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MLB MLB Playoffs

MLB Playoffs 2013: Ranking the Top 15 Baserunners

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MLB Playoffs 2013: Ranking the Top 15 Baserunners

Base Runners
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Look no further than the 2004 MLB Postseason to see the value of having great baserunners. If not for Dave Roberts on their roster, the Boston Red Sox probably would not have been able to beat the New York Yankees in the ALCS and eventually win the World Series.

Poor baserunning like Jeremy Giambi showed in the 2001 playoffs can also cost a team a chance at the World Series. He didn't possess for much speed and gave Derek Jeter the chance to throw him out at home plate. If you add in the fact that he didn't slide, it was all-around disaster for the Oakland Athletics.

Good baserunning isn't all just stolen bases and speed. While speed does help poor base runners make up for a lack of instinct and slow jumps, good base runners know how to read a ball and go first to third on a single or advance on a passed ball. 

Baserunning for a while was something that was overlooked in MLB. During the late 90s and early 2000s, most teams wanted the big guys that could hit 450-foot home runs like Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa that they forgot about the guys like Juan Pierre and Dave Roberts. 

With steroid testing in place and the home run numbers dropping rapidly, teams have made sure to focus more on getting some speed guys that can steal a few runs and put pressure on the defense and pitcher. These 15 guys are the most dangerous baserunners in the postseason.

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15. Brandon Phillips

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Brandon Phillips used to be a guy that would steal between 15-25 bases a year. Batting cleanup now, he has stopped trying to steal as much, but still has the speed to go from first to third on a single and pick his spots for a steal.

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14. B.J. Upton

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From 2008-2012, B.J. Upton stole 195 bases, which is an average of 39 per year. However, he only stole 12 bases in 2013 due to .184 BA. Although he has struggled getting on base all year, he has the ability to steal a run for a team when he does.

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13. Alex Rios

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With the power numbers he puts up, some people forget what a great base runner Alex Rios is. At age 32, he stole a career-high 42 bases in 49 attempts during the 2013 season.

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12. Elliot Johnson

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Elliot Johnson has the opportunity to effect the game without even starting. Even though Dan Uggla is struggling, he will probably open the playoffs as the starting second baseman. If the game is close and Uggla gets on, the Atlanta Braves could pinch run Johnson, who stole 22 bases and was only caught once.

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11. Desmond Jennings

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In his second full season in MLB, Desmond Jennings made his impact as a leadoff man. He stole 20 bases and scored 81 runs for the Tampa Bay Rays.

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10. Elvis Andrus

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From 2010-2012, Elvis Andrus was always a stolen base threat. However, he was caught plenty of times. He was caught stealing a combined 37 times in those three seasons, which is an average of over 12 times per year. This season, he stole a career-high 41 bases and was caught only eight times.

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9. Dustin Pedroia

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Dustin Pedroia makes an impact more with his baseball IQ on the base paths than he does stealing bases. In his last five full seasons, he has averaged over 20 steals per year, which is a solid number for any player. However, his ability to read the ball off of the bat and get the extra base is what makes him a top-tier base runner.

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8. Starling Marte

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Starling Marte finished his first full season with 41 steals and 10 triples, which is good enough for third and second in the National League respectively. However, he was caught 15 times, which led the National League in 2013.

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7. Coco Crisp

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Coco Crisp has seen his stolen base numbers decline with age. He was 21 for 26 this season for the Oakland Athletics, but hit a career high 22 home runs. He walks as many times as he strikes out and has a very good OBP. He still has elite speed, which shows in the field and on the bases.

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6. Shane Victorino

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The new-look Boston Red Sox have rebuilt on players like Shane Victorino. He is a guy who has a winning pedigree and does damage on the bases. The trio of Victorino, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury give the Red Sox guys that can make life miserable on the opposing defense when they get on.

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5. Jason Kipnis

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Jason Kipnis is one of the best second baseman in all of baseball. He hit .282 with 17 home runs and 84 RBIs in 2013. Kipnis also stole 29 bases and had 84 runs scored batting at the top of the lineup for the Cleveland Indians.

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4. Jacoby Ellsbury

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If not for a recent foot injury, Jacoby Ellsbury would be no. 1 on this list. Even though he missed 29 games, he still won his third AL stolen base title and finished third in triples.

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3. Andrew McCutchen

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The favorite to win the 2013 NL MVP, Andrew McCutchen does it all for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He finished this season with 27 stolen bases, five triples and 97 runs scored.

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2. Michael Bourn

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Michael Bourn is a three-time NL stolen base champion. His numbers were down due to an early-season injury, but he will be on the move throughout the entire postseason now at full strength.

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1. Billy Hamilton

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Billy Hamilton only made the postseason roster to be a pinch runner. He had only 19 at-bats and seven hits, but he managed to steal 13 bases in 14 chances. In any close game, he will be used as a pinch runner and can steal a game and maybe even a series for the Cincinnati Reds.