Rule changes in Major League Baseball helped rejuvenate a lost art in the sport: the stolen base.
Advocating for more teams to attempt steals, the MLB changed rules to encourage runners to take a chance.
One of the players who dominates in this aspect of the game is Phillies’ shortstop Trea Turner.
Turner was a perfect 30 for 30 in stolen bases in the 2023 season. With ten more seasons on this contract, will he be able to catch Billy Hamilton for the franchise lead?
Expanding the bases and setting limits on how many times a pitcher could step off the mound were two differences in the running aspect of professional baseball. The goal was to get more players moving and Major League Baseball was successful in that venture.
In 2022, 2,486 bases were stolen across the league. While that may seem like a lot, if you separate per team, that comes out to roughly 83 per team. Each team plays 162 games and 9 players at any given time could swipe a base. It amounts to half a stolen base per game, which league officials felt could improve.
With the changes in 2023, Major League Baseball got their wish. There were 3,503 stolen bases this season, which is 1,017 more than in 2022. That brought a team average to 117, which is up 34 bags from the previous year.
League executives were pleased with the increase and I think as a sport, we will see even more in 2024.
The Speed of Trea Turner
Since debuting in 2015, Trea Turner has the most stolen bases of any player in Major League Baseball.
Turner has stolen 260 bags in his career, including the 30 last season for the Phillies. That career total is a little more than half of Billy Hamilton’s 508 (Hamilton played with the Phillies from 1890-1895). Jimmy Rollins sits in second place with 453.
Trea Turner would need to snag another 478 bases in his Phillies tenure to tie that a mark that is over 120 years old. That is an average of 48 stolen bases per season, which might seem fairly high.
During the 2023 season, Trea Turner once went 19 games without stealing a bag. He would later have a 21-game stretch in which he also did not attempt a steal. That is roughly a quarter of the season that he was not attempting to steal.
If he maintained the same pace of taking an extra base that he did in the other three-quarters of the season, he could have finished 2023 with 40 SB, not 30.
2024 and Beyond
Regardless, 2023 is in the past. I would like for Trea to be around the 40-strong base mark in 2024 and for the seasons to follow. As he ages, that number will likely decrease, making it harder for him to catch Hamilton’s record.
I do not think that Trea Turner will be the one to break this legendary Phillies record. Bryson Stott would be the only other player on the current roster would could potentially chase it down (Stott has 43 across his two seasons.)
At the very least, it could be a lot of fun watching Trea chase history. I hope to see him swipe more bases in 2024 and the years to come.
Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)