Question of the Day 6/19

Brilliant Reader Dan with the question: “Do you know if a World’s Series winning team has ever led their league in stolen bases?”That seems kind of an odd question on the surface, but in fact it It has been 10 years since a team that led its league in stolen bases went on to win the World Series. That team? The 2003 Florida Marlins. That Marlins’ team -- led by Juan Pierre’s 65 stolen bases and 21 each from Luis Castillo and Derrek Lee (yes, Derrek Lee) stole 150 bases, 50 more than any other team in the league.However, it should be added that being that aggressive on the bases almost certainly hurt the Marlins more than it helped them. They were caught 74 times, which was almost DOUBLE anyone else in the league and the most for any National League team since 2000. The Marlins finished eighth in the league in runs scored.Before the Marlins, the last stolen base leader to win a World Series was the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays. Robbie Alomar had 55 stolen bases, Devon White added 34, Hall of Famers Rickey Henderson and Paul Molitor each had 22. The, unlike the Marlins team, was an excellent offensive team -- they also led the league in slugging and finished second in runs scored.Before that you have to go back to the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals, a team I have called one of the most misunderstood great teams in baseball history. The reputation of that team is of a bunch of slap-hitting speedsters who scored a bunch of runs by intimidating pitchers and sacrificing their way to glory. They were fast, true. They did not hit with home run power, true. They did finish second in sacrifice bunts.But, one, that team did not score many runs -- they finished fifth in the league with 685 runs. And, two, they led the league in on-base percentage, which I would argue was a lot more important than those stolen bases. There’s no question that their aggressiveness set a tone. However, the Cardinals that year were caught a ridiculous 91 times, and at that shaky success rate the math suggests they might have scored as many runs if they had not tried to steal a base all year.

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