When you think of current baseball players who have permanent green lights on the basepath, the list is pretty much Jose Reyes, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford… and that’s probably it (Bobby Abreu’s 11 steals are a frightening anomaly and will be summarily ignored).
And while Ellsbury’s steal of home plate was the most memorable single steal since Dave Roberts in 2004, Crawford just ran his way back into the news by thieving six bases in one game, which ties the modern base record. Just like it says in the headline that you already read that gave this all away.
What’s more, this is the sixth straight game in which Crawford has stolen a base, taking him halfway to the record held by… surprisingly, it’s not Rickey Henderson (though Rickey has a streak of 11). The lone record holder, with 12, is the Athletics’ Bert Campaneris. So there’s that.
The remarkable thing about Crawford’s performance is that of the six stolen bases, five were of second base, and only one of third. Considering that Crawford reached base each of the five times he went to the plate (4-4, 1 BB), it’s possible that he had a chance to steal ten bases on the noodle-armed Jason Varitek, who last threw out a runner attempting to steal in 1994.* But yes, he got only six instead.
According to ESPN, only three other players have accomplished this feat since 1900: Otis Nixon, Eric Young, and the immortal Eddie Collins, who looked more like a creepy grandfather than a speed demon. ESPN called the list an “elite group,” but of the three, only Collins is in the Hall of Fame, so let’s not go overboard.
But back to Crawford. He now leads the majors with 17 steals and is on pace to nab 106. Of course, that mathematical model supposes that Crawford will steal 6 bases in a game about five more times yet this season, which would be most remarkable. And by that we mean impossible. Not that, if Crawford feels like trying to do so, we’d feel like stopping him, because that’d be kind of awesome.
*this may not be true.