View Poll Results: Who is the best base-runner of all time?

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Thread: best base-runners of all time

  1. #41
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    ...............
    Last edited by Go Cardinals; 01-11-2008 at 10:02 PM.

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
    Why does it matter that Schmidt knocked himself in 37 times? That's a point for Schmidt not Coleman. Those 37 times still count as Schmidt being a baserunner.


    Hitting a HR certainly counts as being a "baserunner" as well. You can't redefine "baserunner" simply because the proper definition refutes your point. And you forgot to mention that Schmidt has 13 fewer PAs.


    Sorry, it doesn't prove your point at all. Coleman did steal a large amount of bases. I was a 17 years old when he debuted so I saw a lot of him. He was fun to watch. But he stole a lot because that's all he could do. And stealing lots of bases is a poor substitute for getting on base. I can see an argument of Coleman being the best base stealer, though.

    Here's a thought experiment to ponder. Let's say you give Vince Coleman and Martinez an equal number of PAs. Given them the same exact lineup and bat Coleman lead off and Edgar in the #3 slot. Who will score more runs?
    Again, none of this is relevant to the conversation. Your comment about "forgetting to mention" Schmidt's 13 fewer PA's just shows that you're not quite following: the question is about baserunning. If a guy scores tons of runs despite not being able to ever get on base and hitting for no power, he's almost certainly an unbelievable baserunner. Scoring a run on a homer says absolutely nothing about your baserunning; a guy who can barely walk (Kirk Gibson, say) can score a run on a homer, but that has no bearing on whether they're even a passable baserunner.

    Like you said, "he stole a lot because that's all he could do." You're right; baserunning was all he could do, and he was better at it than anyone else in the history of the game. He wasn't much of a player in any other respect, but that has nothing to do with this thread.
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  3. #43
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    To sum up the various opinions, the best baserunner of all time should have the following profile:

    - excellent speed. Pete Rose was a terrific baserunner, who routinely took extra bases on lazy outfielders, but he just wasn't fast...
    - a high number of stolen bases. Vince Coleman seems to be our current leader in number of bases stolen per opportunity.
    - a high percentage of stolen bases. Tim Raines is the "raining" champ here.
    - accomplish daring baserunning feats. The two most famous recent players who ran for disruptive purposes are Alfredo Griffin and Ozzie Guillen. Ty Cobb and Jackie Robinson also had this reputation. They're the guys who go first-to-third on a hit-and-run grounder to the left side, steal home, and run through coaches' stop signs successfully.
    - don't make a lot of baserunning errors. They don't get picked off. They won't get thrown out at second when they realize too late that Manny Ramirez only has a short throw to make off the Fenway wall. They won't lead off an inning with a double to the rightfield corner ending up in a 9-4-5 out at third.

    Putting it all together, Cobb was probably the all-round best. And in my memory, the worst overall baserunner - for a guy who had good speed - was Tony Fernandez.

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElHalo View Post
    Again, none of this is relevant to the conversation. Your comment about "forgetting to mention" Schmidt's 13 fewer PA's just shows that you're not quite following: the question is about baserunning. If a guy scores tons of runs despite not being able to ever get on base and hitting for no power, he's almost certainly an unbelievable baserunner. Scoring a run on a homer says absolutely nothing about your baserunning; a guy who can barely walk (Kirk Gibson, say) can score a run on a homer, but that has no bearing on whether they're even a passable baserunner.

    Like you said, "he stole a lot because that's all he could do." You're right; baserunning was all he could do, and he was better at it than anyone else in the history of the game. He wasn't much of a player in any other respect, but that has nothing to do with this thread.
    But, EH. was he a great base runner, or just a great base stealer?

    Certainly, stealing the amount of bases (at a good percentage) that Coleman did (in relatively few opportunities) is good enough to at least get a mention, and be part of the discussion. But base stealing is not the only element of baserunning.

    You can certainly make a good argument that what Coleman did on the bases was way more valuable than the smartest baserunner with average-ish speed.

    However, what about guys who could steal 60+ bases who were also very smart and savvy baserunners? What about a guy like, (oh, I hate to say it to you, EH) Joe Morgan? Could he have been a better overall base runner than Coleman?

    What about the fact that he was on base way more often, which means that he was able to utilize his overall baserunning skills more often than Coleman (though Coleman still utilized the steal more). Now, putting yourself in a position to utilize your skill more often doesn't make you better at that individual skill - so that would be a tangential discussion. But, you could posit that Morgan's teams benefited from his base running skills more than Coleman's team benefited from his. Like I said, it's a different, but related discussion.

    Coleman was never a very "heady" player, so I'm skeptical that he was the best base runner of all time - even if he was among the very best at stealing bases.

    Just some thoughts...
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  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElHalo View Post
    Like you said, "he stole a lot because that's all he could do." You're right; baserunning was all he could do, and he was better at it than anyone else in the history of the game. He wasn't much of a player in any other respect, but that has nothing to do with this thread.
    Your whole argument seems to be based on some "efficiency" principle that Coleman was a great baserunner because he stole lots of bases and scored some runs while having a low OBP. I find this idea flawed. Your arguments for Coleman can be equally applied to Omar Moreno as well. Moreno's 1980 season is pretty much a match for Coleman's 1986 season.
    Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 01-11-2008 at 05:14 PM.
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  6. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by ElHalo View Post
    Tim Raines reached base 3977 times in his career, and stole 808 bases. That's 0.203 SB/ToB.

    Vince Coleman reached base 1917 times in his career, and stole 752 bases. That's 0.392 SB/ToB.

    So, essentially, Vince Coleman was stealing twice as many bases as Tim Raines, who himself was one of the best basestealers ever. Raines was an infinitely better player than Coleman. But if you're just talking baserunning, nobody even comes close to Coleman.
    I don't always see eye-to-eye with ElHalo, but this seems like a good case for Coleman, at least among base stealers. His lousy OBP should be held against his case as a player/hitter, but his efficiency as a base stealer based on his limited times on base is very effective.

    For the purpose of this thread, I'm not sure what the definition of "best base-runner" is. For those items beyond base stealing (going first to third, breaking up double plays, tagging up on flyballs too short for others to dare try, etc.), I am not sure what methodology people are using to measure this. We have anecdotal stories about Cobb's prowess, but unless you have seen all the great base runners in history, I don't know how to rank them.

  7. #47
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    I just found this over on the Willie Mays thread and thought I would post it here. You really had to see Willie play to believe that a player could be so exciting.


    Originally Posted by sandy1
    Retrosheet recently put up 1956 play by plays. 13/13 steals of 3rd base is impressive, but hardly the whole base running story for Mays.
    On May 8th against the Reds, Mays went from 1st to home on singles TWICE in the game.
    Then he did it again on May 11th against my Dodgers...so he went 1st to home on singles(to right) 3 times in a week.
    He does it again on September 4th against the Phillies on a single to center.

    Below is a quote about baserunning and Mays from one of the best base runners of all-time.

    Wills said. "I take great pride in saying that it was not just my base stealing, but my base running. Base running involves everybody on the team. Whether you're fast or slow, you can be an outstanding base runner."

    Glory days

    Wills hesitates to pick the top players he competed with and against, but his short list includes Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Frank Robinson and the superstar his mentor favored.

    "Bragan told me - and I'm going to stick with this - if you ever have a baseball quiz, you name Willie Mays for every answer, and you'll get a passing grade,"Wills said with a laugh.

  8. #48
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    And how about this story originally posted by Westfield?


    Ed Bressoud played for the Giants from 1956 thru 1961 and with the Red Sox from 1962 thru 1965. He finished his career with the Cards in 1967. Bressoud is another contemporary who recalls Mays’ baserunning skill :

    “Willie Mays was the greatest player I ever saw. There are five areas in which you measure a player ; Hit, run, throw, field, hit with power. And Willie did them all. And he was the most fantastic baserunner I’ve ever seen. He could goad a player into doing something with the ball he would never do, and he would take advantage. I recall in Pittsburg we played a ballgame and Willie was on third, and there was a pop fly into short center field. Very short. I don’t think more than 15 feet back on the grass. And Mazeroski went back and got it, caught the ball and Willie was off third. And Willie made a little bit of a fake, and Maz’s arm came forward. And when his arm came forward, Willie recognized he couldn’t throw it and he took off. And, of course, Maz had to return his arm to the throwing position, and by that time Willie had scored. It was fantastic. But he did that sort of thing all the time. He’s run into a base backwards, to find out where the ball was coming from. He was just the best player I ever saw.”

  9. #49
    Cobb basically perfected intelligent baserunning.

  10. #50
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    Mays was the best/most productive baserunner I’ve ever seen……and many of his teammates, players on other teams, managers, announcers , sportswriters, and fans share the same view. Ty Cobb was a fan of Mays’ baserunning as well. Besides going from first to home on singles (some to left field), he often went first to third on infield grounders, and could go from second to home on infield grounders. ( At least six times from 1956-1960)
    He was a highly disruptive baserunner who drove pitchers crazy because of his long leads and he ways always feinting – he drew a lot of throws and caused a lot of errors. Mays dancing off second base made pitcher Robin Roberts so crazy one game that Roberts stomped off the mound towards Mays and challenged him to a fight. On the next pitch, Mays stole third. He also was well known for making baserunning a “contact sport” – he put several catchers in the hospital after collisions at the plate.
    One of the best “big guy” baserunners ever was Dick Allen. He was pretty quick and could take an extra base.
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  11. #51
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    This is one of those times where what we watched on the popular opinion. I'm old enough and fortunate enough to have watched Willie Mays play baseball on television. He was excitement personified whatever he was doing. Hitting, fielding, and especially on the bases. Willie was fast, sure, but he had great instincts, intelligence, and aggressivness. He literally scared opposing teams into making mistakes.

    Maybe Ty Cobb was the greatest base runner of all time, but if he was better than Willie, he must have been otherworldly.

    Yankees Fan Since 1957

  12. #52
    Vince Coleman was certainly special. He would beat out a grounder then, on base, everyone was sure he was going to steal. He would lean back toward 1B to help avoid being thrown out by the pitcher then take off to 2B. After stealing 2B, he was off to 3B. He scored so many runs in innings the Cards had no hits, just a couple of groundouts or fly outs and scored from 1B on routine singles because he was off with the pitch. Others I remember were Willie Wilson and Kirk Gibson.

    Pete Rose was smart. He would take a base on any situation and then distract the fielders in order for his teammates to take that extra base or score. How many TV shotss do you see Pete Rose on base waiving to his teamamtes to take that extra base? All of them! Rose was exceptional.

    Jackie Robinson was fast and daring. He was a running back in college and big for a baseball player. He intimidated defenders because he wasn't afraid to crash violently into unsuspecting or suspecting baseman waiting to tag him.

    Ty Cobb is a legend and has to be considered the greatest base runner. He is documented for making outs on the base when it might not be as important just to set up the fielder into making an error on the next time Cobb was on base. Every run mattered in Cobb's time and he wanted his team to be the one who scored it, one way or another. He was possesed. All players round a bag wide whentaking multiple bases. Not Cobb. I read that he had a tecnique where he would push off the bag with his inner foot, pivoting straight toward the next bag in order to avoid rounding the bag. What most people don't know is that most of the famous photos are intended show this detail.

    My opinion is that Billy Hamilton is the greatest base runner. The objective is to score runs and Hamilton is one of three players (Harry Stovey, George Gore) to score more runs than games played. His SB total is aided by the rules of the time but, he's sure to be among all time leaders regardless. Billy Hamilton established the prototype for a leadoff hitter forever with his ability to get on base, disrupt the defense, and score runs.
    Last edited by HDH; 01-13-2008 at 04:05 PM.
    In the 1920's, Harry Heilmann led the AL with a .364 average. In addition, he averaged 220 hits, 45 doubles, 12 triples, 16 homers, 110 runs, and 130 RBI.

  13. #53
    Vince Coleman was certainly special. He would beat out a grounder then, on base, everyone was sure he was goingto steal. He would lean back toward 1B then take off to 2B. After stealing 2B, he was off to 3B. He scored so many runs in innings the Cards had no hits, just a couple of groundouts or fly outs.

    Pete Rose was smart. He would take a base on any situation and then distract the fielders in order for him teammates to take that extra base or score.

    Ty Cobb is a legend and has to be considered the greatest base runner. He is documented as Rose is for making an out on the base when it might not matter just to set up the fielder into aking an error on the next time Cobb was on base.

    My opinion is that Billy Hamilton is the greatest base runner. The objective is to score runs and Hamilton is one of three players (Harry Stovey, George Gore) to score more runs than games played. His SB total is aided by the rules of the time but, he's sure to be among all time leaders regardless. Billy Hamilton established the prototype for a leadoff hitter forever.
    In the 1920's, Harry Heilmann led the AL with a .364 average. In addition, he averaged 220 hits, 45 doubles, 12 triples, 16 homers, 110 runs, and 130 RBI.

  14. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by ElHalo View Post
    Vince Coleman was stealing twice as many bases as Tim Raines, who himself was one of the best basestealers ever. Raines was an infinitely better player than Coleman. But if you're just talking baserunning, nobody even comes close to Coleman.
    On Coleman....he attempted to steal 47% of the time, and made it 81% of the time! I can't speak to his baserunning, overall, but Coleman definitely challenges everyone- even The Rickey- in terms of ability to steal bases, and his aggressiveness in doing so..

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