2013 MLB World Series: Ranking the Top 5 Baserunners
Who are the Best Baserunners in the World Series?
Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury is the most talented runner in the majors, and he led the league with 52 steals. The Red Sox were fourth in the major leagues with 123 steals during the regular season, and they lead the league in the postseason with 11. That mark is pretty amazing considering that the two teams with the next-most steals were the Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers, who each have swiped just three bags as a team during the playoffs.
Don't be fooled by the Cardinals being tied for second in steals, as it's purely a product of them having played so many postseason games. St. Louis finished second-to-last in the big leagues with just 45 stolen bases during the regular season. Center fielder Jon Jay led the team with 10 steals and no other player stole more than six bases.
Though the Cardinals shaped their identity in the 1980s as a team that was built on good baserunning, they've long avoided activity on the basepaths. Manager Tony La Russa often dissuaded his players from going for steals, and that philosophy has continued under his successor Mike Matheny. While the team has two players on their bench, Adron Chambers and Kolten Wong, who have the ability to make an impact as pinch-running specialists, neither of the two has attempted a steal during the postseason. In fact, one of them will likely be removed from the World Series roster to make room for Allen Craig, who is returning from a foot injury.
Here are the five most talented baserunners who will take part in the 2013 World Series.
5. Kolten Wong
Wong, listed at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, could be the fastest player in the World Series. The problem is that he has had major struggles with getting on base since joining the team on August 16. The top prospect went 9-for-59 with three walks during the regular season. His three steals came in starts against the Milwaukee Brewers on August 19 and 20.
Purely due to a lack of positional depth, Wong made the postseason roster, and he's been held hitless during his five pinch-hitting opportunities. There's a good chance that the 23-year-old will be taken off the Cardinals' active roster when they activate Allen Craig, but if Wong remains, it will be because of his ability to make an impact on the basepaths as a pinch runner.
4. Jon Jay
Jay's not a fantastic base runner, having been caught in five of his 15 steal attempts. That being said, he has good speed and athleticism, and he's the most aggressive of the Cardinals' runners. After being benched in favor of Shane Robinson for Game 6 of the NLCS, Jay will probably go into the World Series as a member of the Cardinals' bench, but he'll be one of the first men called on if needed. It's likely that you won't see any attempts at impacting the game on the basepaths from the Cardinals, but if you do, it's likely to be from Jay.
3. Dustin Pedroia
Pedroia isn't exceptionally athletic, but he carries his gritty style of play to the basepaths. Pedroia stole 17 bases during the regular season, though he was caught five times. Pedroia's only stolen one base during the playoffs, and with so much on the line against Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, he probably will avoid stealing as much as possible during the Fall Classic. If the Red Sox need a spark though, Pedroia would be one of the guys that they would be more comfortable utilizing for a quick steal attempt.
2. Shane Victorino
Victorino's always been a very talented base runner, and though he's slowed down a bit at 32-years-old, he's still very much a threat to steal a base. He swiped 21 bags while being caught three times this year, and he's contributed another two steals during the postseason.
1. Jacoby Ellsbury
Ellsbury isn't just the best runner in this series -- he's the best in the major leagues. Ellsbury led the big leagues during the regular season with 52 steals and was caught just four times. He's kept up his aggressiveness during the postseason, having stolen six bases while being caught once through the Red Sox' first two series. He may be more controlled on the basepaths going against Molina, but he'll definitely be a force to be reckoned with.