The second installation of the top 10 Yankees baserunners features a few surprises (or maybe not). Players 10-6 are already sorted; which Pinstriped robbers head the peak of the list?
5. Roy White- With a blend of power and speed, White was one of the cornerstone members of the 1970’s. A leftfielder by trade, White was never the most prolific basestealer (he only stole more than 24 bases once), but his consistency led him to 233 pilfers. Additionally, he won two World Series titles in 1977 and 1978 with Reggie Jackson and company. He would retire after 15 seasons and nearly 1000 runs scored, White retired as one of the most underrated Yankees in history.
4. Ben Chapman- A name that most Yankees fans haven’t heard of in a long time. A speedy outfielder in the 1930’s, Chapman also hit for power. In his first three seasons, he eclipsed 25 doubles, 10 triples, 10 homers, 10 steals, and a .299 batting average. His greatest season was 1931, where he hit .315 with 120 runs, 17 home runs, 122 RBI, and 61 stolen bases! Chapman would go on to lead the league in steals 4 times (including 1931), and three times with the Yankees. The four time All-star would play only 7 years with the Yankees before he was sent to the Washington Senators. When his speed eventually waned, he became a pitcher at age 35. Chapman finished his career with 287 swipes.
3. Willie Randolph- Randolph started his career (after 30 games with the Pirates) in 1976 as a second baseman with Roy White. Maybe White would have been higher on this list if Randolph didn’t steal his chances. Randolph provided a spark on offense with his bat and speed, stealing 37 bases in his first season, and earning All-Star selections in his first two seasons. He would steal 30 bases 4 times in his first five years, highlighted by a stellar 1980. Not only did he swipe 30 bags, he led the American League with 119 walks, and earn a Silver Slugger award. After 13 years of the Big Apple (251 SB), Randolph signed as a free agent with the Dodgers in 1988. He would only steal 20 more bases in five seasons, but has definitely made his impact in baseball history with 2210 hits, and a multitude of dirt-stained uniforms.
2. Derek Jeter- Even though Derek Jeter holds the most swipes in Yankees annals, the Man of Steal maintains the number 1 title for his dominance in his brief New York stay. Nevertheless, Jeter is a fantastic basestealer, with 348 steals and counting. He chooses his moments wisely; he was only nabbed 95 times. He only had one season where he had single digit steals, and that was when he was 38 years old. I would say more wonderful stuff about Jeter, but there isn’t any need to. He is one of the best baseball players to ever play, and even though number 2 is number two here, his accomplishments and commitment to the game of baseball are more significant than words can say.
1. Rickey Henderson- He only played 4 and a half seasons in New York, yet he stole with such panache, fervor, and skill that he still racked up 326 pilfers. After crossing the United States from Oakland in 1985, Rickey added another dimension to his already strong game: power. He smacked 24 homers in his first season, and 28 in 1986. But of course, Rickey continued his dominance on the basepaths, with SB totals of 80, 87, 41, 93, and eventually 77 in his NYY-OAK 1989 season. All but one year did he pace the league. He would finish his career with 12 single season stolen base awards, over 9 teams, 25 seasons, and a lot of frustrated infields. His career total of 1406 swipes is nearly 500 more than Lou Brock, and no active player is within 700 (Juan Pierre with 614). The name Rickey Henderson is synonymous with speed and greatness; many of his records will never fall, and is rightfully the “Greatest (Basestealer) of All Time.”