Fast and Furious Boston Red Sox style
By Rick McNair
The Boston Red Sox have never been a team centered on speed but they have had their share of talented base stealers. Here is a look at a few.
The Boston Red Sox fast and furious has nothing to do with a computer game, a discreet government operation or a movie designed to show young males what not to do with a motorized vehicle. The fast and furious is about speed in baseball with the emphasis being on the stolen base.
The Red Sox have never led the American League in steals but have finished last several times. This season has seen a sudden spike in steals as discussed in a recent BSI article by Sean Penney. Even in the pre-Fenway Park era of the dead ball some numbers were surprising. In 1906, the Sox stole 99 bases to finish last. The next lowest total was 168. In the championship season of 1912, they finished next to last and last in 1915 and 1916 title years.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the American League was notorious for their power concentration. The 1946 Red Sox stole only 35 bases with league leader Chicago swiping 78. In 1950, Boston stole 32 to league leader Philadelphia with 42. In 1952 was an almost as Boston had 59 steals to Chicago’s leading 60. In 1956, Boston finished last with 28. Think that was bad? The Senators pilfered only 13 bases in 1957.
For the Red Sox, much of the design of the team was centered on the long ball. Or the three-run homer concept espoused by Earl Weaver. The first issue was always the bat and often a collection of lumbering hitters and occasionally those with speed who had that attribute diminished as the Sox played for runs and not running into potential outs. One year does stand out and that is 2013 when the Red Sox stole 123 bases and were nabbed only 19 times – a percentage record.
So just who were the best? This is somewhat of a selective process since records were either not recorded correctly or not considered significant – especially in the dead ball era. Caught stealing numbers are often not available and often the game was one where players ran into outs since the style was “inside baseball.” Fast and furious for sure “Back in the day.” Being somewhat of an older fan I can drift back to the 1950s for some primary source observation. Here is my list of the fast and the furious – Boston version.