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Top 20 MLB Base Runners in 2012

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Top Base Stealers of 2012

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Base running is what you might call a major part of the game of baseball. It's right there in the name. Baseball involves running bases. That’s right, not just walking bases after a baseball gets hammered four hundred feet away, though that is big too. Also it matters when someone is able to get on base with speed and know how to run. Sure the long ball is cool to watch but if you don’t think an awesome base stealer is just as cool you must be a fan of a team with a bunch of slow guys on it.

It’s almost more of a big deal when a man is able to get on base and do his thing with speed. Honest to goodness he can take over the inning and sometimes the game if he does it right. Speed coupled with smart base running and the knowledge of how and when to run combine to take a simple quick batter to a level where even the scariest pitcher can be taken completely out of his game plan. That is when it gets fun.

So who were the best of these type of base runners for the 2012 MLB season? Here is a list of the top twenty. Some of this has to do with the number of bases stolen and then number of times caught but not all of it. Also factored in is the ability to get around the bases and steal a run where there might not have been a run before. These twenty guys can do it to the best of pitchers any time they get on base. Check out our top twenty.

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20-Tony Campana - Chicago Cubs

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Cubs might have something really nice on their hands in the way of this small center fielder. Tony Campana has speed for sure. This was his first partial year in the majors and in limited action he still swiped 30 bags and scored 26 runs. The future is somewhat uncertain but if he stays healthy and works on his base running techniques, Campana should shine in center for years to come as well as shine on the base paths.

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19-Ryan Braun - Milwaukee Brewers

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Braun has it all. The Milwaukee Brewers Left Fielder finished second in NL MVP voting and that should tell you something. In fact the reason he is so far down this list is the fact that he has so many tools. Really base stealing is kind of just something else this guy does really well. He is too busy batting well over .300 and scoring over a hundred runs to focus too much on stealing bases. Still he is a great runner of the bases and definitely has fast feet.

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18-Emilio Bonifacio - Toronto Blue Jays

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Emilio Bonifacio, now of the Toronto Blue Jays, is fast. I really could stop right there. He managed 30 steals and only was caught three times. He only scored thirty runs but that stat looks pretty good when you consider he only played in 64 games. What he could have done at that pace begins to look like Ricky Henderson type numbers. The only reason he isn’t higher on this list based on potential alone is because he never was on that kind of pace before. Who knows what the future could hold for this speedster if he stays healthy.

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17-Norichika Aoki - Milwaukee Brewers

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Aoki Norichika finds himself solidly in the top twenty for speedsters but might have once been better. He has some age on him and he isn’t the smallest guy in the field. Still he runs with the ones who are just below the best of them. Left Fielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, Aoki might not be the fastest in the top twenty but he proves that it matters to know how to steal bases as well as being simply fast. Surely there are guys that are faster than Aoki that cannot steal bases or run the bases as well as he can.

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16-Dee Gordon - Los Angeles Dodgers

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The shortstop of the Los Angeles Dodgers probably deserves a higher spot on this list if it were based on pure ability. Dee Gordon is one heck of a base runner and his numbers more than prove it considering his abbreviated games played. To bring in 32 steals and 38 runs scored in only 80 plus games is a huge up sign for Gordon’s future. The Dodgers should have no problem keeping opposing pitchers looking over their shoulders with this guy on base.

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15-B.J. Upton - Atlanta Braves

Jeff Griffith-USA TODAY Sports

Last year with the Tampa Bay Rays, B.J. Upton didn’t have an all around career year. Still his skill set is impressive and most certainly includes the speed and base running ability to place him in this list. For the Atlanta Braves to get another speedy center fielder is a pretty important thing. Upton’s 31 swipes will do the job in the ATL for sure. If he ups his average and on base percentage by taking some more pitches it will be even better in the steals and base running category.

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14-Jason Kipnis - Cleveland Indians

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Kipnis is fairly big for a second baseman but his feet are fast enough for the job. He swiped 31 bags only having been tagged 7 times. His average could have been better and he could have taken more balls here and there. Both things will improve his on base percentage and keep him on base more often. If that happens, there is no shame for a big two-bagger to swipe over 40 bases. Kipnis could easily be a 30/30 guy for the Cleveland Indians eventually if the stars line up.

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13-Desmond Jennings - Tampa Bay Rays

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

While not the best base runner in the speed loaded outfield position of MLB, Tampa Bay Rays Left Fielder Desmond Jennings isn’t too shabby either. He finished 2012 with 31 swipes and was only thrown out twice. More time on base and maybe more time focused on steals might result in a higher number. For a big guy weighing in at over 200 lbs, Jennings is pretty fleet of foot. As long as he doesn’t bulk up too much in the future he should keep a good balance of speed and base running for his power.

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12-Jose Altuve - Houston Astros

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve did a lot to impress during his first full year. His speed and smart base running led to 33 steals while only getting him caught 11 times. His average and on base percentage were great as well. The Astros more appreciate him for the 80 runs his quick feet led to. Certainly it could be said that Altuve is carving a solid spot for himself at the top of MLB second basemen. As far as top speedy MLB second basemen, he’s already there.

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11-Alcides Escobar - Kansas City Royals

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Having swiped 35 bags and only having been thrown out 5 times, Alcides Escobar is a base running force to be reckoned with. His motion is natural and his quickness appears effortless. Nothing beats a player stealing second just to ask for time and calmly brush the dirt off as if to tell the world that he isn’t surprised. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised to see Escobar get more playing time next year. If he does you can bet he will have another career year in the stolen bases stat box.

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10-Carlos Gomez - Milwaukee Brewers

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With 37 swipes and 72 runs scored, Carlos Gomez sits nice and steady in the number ten slot. His 137 games played are less than many on this list yet he still is this high. That goes to show that the Milwaukee Brewers have something special on their hands if Gomez can continue his 2012 momentum. A higher average and more walks would probably place him higher on this list. Then again a full played schedule might have put him at the top by himself. Brewers fans are excited to see Gomez steady in that center field position.

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9-Juan Pierre - Miami Marlins

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Things have slowed down just the slightest for the Miami Marlins newly signed outfielder Juan Pierre. The Phillies wanted a new younger option but the Marlins were certainly more than pleased with Pierre’s ability. His feet are still as fast as some and faster than most. 2012 brought 37 steals which is down some but still his ability shows by how few times he gets caught. The mark of a great base stealer is that they can read the situation and know when to take off and when not to. Pierre has been in that category since some of the guys on this list were in school. He’ll be there for a handful of years to come.

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8-Shane Victorino - Boston Red Sox

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

2012 wasn’t his best season but Shane Victorino proved the value of quick feet and a constant ability to steal over thirty bases. The winter meetings weren’t as busy as some thought but one thing that didn’t disappoint was the Victorino sweepstakes. The Red Sox came up the winner and probably hope Victorino’s average comes up a little from last year. As far as his stolen bases, 39, and his caught stealing, only 6, they or anyone else would be fine with those right where they are.

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7-Coco Crisp - Oakland Athletics

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Athletics Left Fielder Coco Crisp is not only thirty but a few years over thirty. So are his feet slowing down in his time passed his prime? Well, no. See nobody told Crisp that he was supposed to slow down after the age of thirty. So instead he brought in more steals over the past few years than he did when he was younger. 2012 was no different as he stole 39 bases and was caught only four times. The A’s would probably like to see his average and on base percentage rise a little. If he is able to take those numbers up a notch or two he will continue to steal as many bases as the youngsters if not more.

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6-Ben Revere - Philadelphia Phillies

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Coming in with a 40 to 9 stolen base to caught stealing ratio, Ben Revere put himself at the top of the MLB base running crowd. The Philadelphia Phillies were interested enough to bring Revere in to be their Center Fielder and help irritate pitchers in the NL East and elsewhere in the National League. In the area of improvements, Revere can focus on getting a few more bases on balls to get those magic feet on base more often. If he does that he might be at the top of this list next year.

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5-Jose Reyes - Toronto Blue Jays

jose 5
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

As he approaches the big 3-0 in age, Jose Reyes still is putting up the big 4-0 in steals. It’s great to see a quick base runner keep his speed and ability to swipe bases throughout his career. Reyes seems to be a great candidate to do that. The Toronto Blue Jays sure thought so as they brought him in recently by trade. The Blue Jays surely have many reasons for the moves they have made but one thing is clear to see. Considering they have three players on this list, they seem to be gunning for more speed on the bases. Reyes is a great veteran to solidify the teams speed and a great acquisition.

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4-Everth Cabrera - San Diego Padres

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera is one of those guys that look like he could steal a thousand bases if given the chance. He is small, fast and has a great crossover step. Like many of the great base runners in MLB, he is young and able to only get better from where he is. Whether scampering for second or the daring steal of third, Cabrera has the tools to lead the league in steals for years to come. If he gets his on base percentage up a little and some good power behind him he will be up in the runs stat as well. Cabrera has all that you want in a base stealer.

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3-Michael Bourn - Free Agent

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

With 45 stolen bases and only 13 caught stealing, Michael Bourn made himself a valuable individual with his feet in 2012 with the Atlanta Braves. To get this high on the top twenty you need more than just lots of steals however. Bourn will be missed for his steals and his good base running. More than that the Braves will be looking hard to replace the 96 runs his quick feet helped him score. Having great base runners is important. Just ask the Braves. It’s no mystery why the outfielder they chose to replace Bourn is also on this list.

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2-Rajai Davis - Toronto Blue Jays

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Blue Jays Left Fielder Rajai Davis is at the two spot. His small stature and quick feet provided the Blue Jays with 64 runs scored and their opponents with way too much to worry about when he was on base. His 46 steals are second only to our number one base runner and he was only caught 13 times as well. Whether you guessed correctly at pronouncing his name or not, Davis is another young, smart and fast base runner that will be terrorizing pitchers for years to come.

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1-Mike Trout - Los Angeles Angels

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Coming in at number one is the Center Fielder from the Los Angeles Angels, Mike Trout. After a short stay in 2011 with the Angels, Trout found a spot and made it stick in the 2012 season. His quick first step and smart base running left him at the top of the majors in stolen bases with 49. He was only caught five times all year and in addition to steals was able to score 129 runs. All of this and he still wasn’t with the big club all year. Trout is just getting started and already one of the best base runners and all around players in MLB. It will be fun to see what he can follow up with in the 2013 campaign.

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