A straight steal of home seems like one of the most difficult plays for an individual in all of baseball, equivalent to a perfect game or a four-HR game.
On Tuesday night in a 4-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, recent Houston Astros call-up Jonathan Villar completed a straight steal of home in the third inning. Pitcher Wei-Yin Chin, a lefty, was focused on the runner on first and Villar successfully slid into home before the ball could reach the catcher.
It’s an exciting play, without a doubt, especially for a young player on a young team that is struggling through another season, but how often does such a steal actually happen?
The stat is not exactly a unique one itself, as it goes in the books as a steal and a run, so tracking a straight steal of home is difficult. The most recent pure steals of home were accomplished by Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford. Ty Cobb is the all-time leader with 54 successful steals of home.
But again, the stat itself is ambiguous and basically impossible to track.
That being said, it is something to be celebrated. Since Ellsbury stole home in 2010, Villar is the first to do it. To put that in context, there have been a whopping 26 no-hitters since 2006, with six of those being perfect games. Four-HR games take the cake, as Josh Hamilton has been the only one to accomplish that feat since 2002.
Based on that small sampling of the past 10 years and strictly statistically speaking, the steal of home is the second-most difficult and/or most rare feat in all of baseball. And given that it was only Villar’s seventh game as a professional ball player, perhaps it is a sign for great things to come.