It is. I don’t remember who it was, but it was in the 1910s or 20s (or sometime around then). The guy was trying to coax a throw out of the catcher so his teammate on third could score, didn’t when stole second, then stole first, and then second again.
It used to be done in the very early 1900’s. With a man on third and a man on second, the man on second would steal first to illicit a throw so the man on third could steal home. This was done by Ty Cobb many a time.
I don’t want to say that it was never done except by Schaefer — and I’m sure Cobb did it at least once, because he was Cobb — but I doubt it was done “many a time” by anybody.
Jones’ narrative describing Schaefer’s “steal” (referenced above) describes everybody on the field — including him — as being utterly baffled by the move. If it was that common, I think the players and officials would have known what to do about it.
Rickey has said somewhere that he thinks the threshhold for success drops the more often you attempt a steal. He thinks that by attempting a steal basically every time you’re on base, you mess with the other team enough that it helps you win, even if you don’t break 75% all the time.
Regardless of whether that’s true, Rickey certainly seems to think it is.
Rickey is almost certainly right about the first part, though I haven’t seen any definite evidence pro/con on the second. If you try to run every time, that means you have to run against tougher pitcher-catcher combinations. I mean, last year you could have been Sloth and stolen a base off of the Varitek-Penny combo. Any fast runner could do that at a high 90’s success rate. As you steal more bases, you end up stealing in counts that aren’t as good for it and against pitcher/catcher pairs that are harder. So your success rate should be going steadily down as you make more attempts, unless you are a rock-dumb runner who doesn’t know who is a good bet to steal on.
The thing about Rajai Davis is that up until the 2nd half of last season, he was used strictly as a defensive replacement/PH type, rarely getting a start. In the 2nd half he was used everyday and put up a .372 OBP, which of course was inflated thanks to his astronomical . 380 BABIP over that time period.
He also entered his prime, so maybe Davis both figured it out after being allowed to play everyday and just took his chance and ran (bad pun) with it. When players arent given meaningful playing time from the onset of their career, the numbers they put up during those sporadic times are often extremely skewed. Very few players are going to put up the same numbers pinch hitting as they are starting, so taking in Davis’s previous work is nearly bunk. We need to see him, just like any player, get 500 PA’s in a year before we can start making projections and writing them off.
That being said: Davis was one of the biggest entertainment machines in the second half of 09, but even then he only swiped 30 bags in 71 games, so 80 looks like a bit of an overstatement. Davis however took a ridiculous amount of bags off sacrifices and singles so even if he doesnt get to 80 he should continue maximizing his value on the basepaths anyway. But how often will he get on? Time will tell.
Curious why it’s “highly unlikely” for Davis to maintain a 78% success rate.
I’m also curious why it’s assumed Davis is “not starting most days” when outfield playing time hasn’t been determined. You mentioned the A’s outfield depth, but the three guys you bring up defense-first guys with single-digit home run power. Davis is the closest thing they have to a leadoff hitter, and he’s got at least April to show whether or not last year’s .360 OBP was a breakout or a fluke.
Pretty sure R.J. means “highly unlikely to attempt 103 steals”, and is not referring to the 78% success rate.
Comment by Joey Matthews — March 8, 2010 @ 5:33 pm
Rickey Henderson made similar bold claims regarding Jose Reyes when he was a spring training instructor for the Mets. I believe he predicted Reyes would steal 100, which obviously never happened.
Henderson was hired by the Mets full-time in mid-July, 2007. A couple of weeks, Reyes started averaging almost a stolen base attempt per game, after averaging about 3 attempts per five games the whole year. This led to 26 stolen bases in 31 games, the best stretch of its kind in Reyes’ career. However, it also led to a September in which Reyes was a terribly unproductive hitter, barely keeping his average above .200, and also stopped being an effective base stealer. Of course, we can debate whether this was cause and effect or coincidence, but I think it’s probably best to take Rickey’s predictions with a grain of salt, and in the best interest of the players involved to play within themselves and not try to emulate (at least the volume of) the most prolific base stealer in history.
“Oakland has a stacked outfield depth chart and he happens to be right-handed, meanwhile they have a switch-hitter (Coco Crisp) and two lefties (Ryan Sweeney & Gabe Gross) also on the depth chart. He’s not starting most days.”
Ummm, Rajai is actually slated to start in LF and Gross *might* be the backup (not absolutely determined yet)… time to rethink your analysis?