- Ellsbury also led off the bottom of the first inning with a ground-rule double and then stole third to break Tommy Harper's franchise record of 54, set in 1973. Ellsbury, who stole 50 bases last year, has 114 stolen bases in 296 major league games -- not counting the base he stole in the 2007 World Series that earned everyone in the United States a free taco.
"It's pretty exciting to think about, with all the great Red Sox players that have played before me," said Ellsbury, who asked for the base but got the sense something might be planned. "The big thing with this club is, if you steal you have to succeed at a high rate. As long as they trust you to run, you'd better steal at a high rate."
Golly, having to succeed at a high rate: what a concept!
Indeed, since 2005 the Red Sox have ranked second, ninth, first, second, and sixth in the league in stolen-base percentage (and it's worth noting that there's usually little difference between second and sixth). Anyway, I got to wondering if any other team's stolen-base record is threatened, or might be threatened by any players currently active. So, with (as usual) the help of Baseball-Reference.com, I made a list of every franchise's record-holder so see what I could see.
A few highlights:
• Surprisingly (to me, anyway), the Expos/Nationals' record is not held by Tim Raines. He did steal 90 bases in 1983, but Ron LeFlore stole 97 in 1980.
• Before Ellsbury broke Tommy Harper's record, he was one of only two players to hold two franchise records: the Red Sox' and the Pilots/Brewers' (with 73 steals for the Pilots in '69, their only year of existence).
• The other, of course, is Rickey Henderson, who's not just a two-franchise record-holder; he owns the top three marks for both the Athletics and the Yankees.
• Maury Wills leads the Dodgers with 104 steals (in 1962), and his son Bump leads the Rangers with exactly half as many (in 1978).
• Carl Crawford's got the top six steal-seasons in Rays "history" and is probably going to break his old record (59) next month.
• Would you believe that Lou Brock isn't the Cardinals' record-holder? It's true: In 1887, Arlie Latham -- "the Freshest Man on Earth" -- was credited with 129 steals, 11 more than Brock's best. But the rules were funny in 1887, which is why I've mostly ignored anything before 1901.
• With that in mind, the longest-standing record is that of Frank Chance, who stole 67 bases for the Cubs in 1903.
Which brings me to the point of this little study.
The easiest targets are those of the Rangers (Bump Wills), the Orioles (57, Luis Aparicio in 1964), the Mariners (Harold Reynolds, 60 in 1987), the Blue Jays (60, Dave Collins in 1984), the Giants (62, George Burns in 1914), the Marlins (65, Juan Pierre in 2003) and the Astros (65, Gerald Young in 1988). If you don't think the New York Giants should count, then the Giants' record is just 58, set by Billy North in 1979.
Are any of the current records in danger? Carl Crawford aside, no. Hanley Ramirez could probably challenge Juan Pierre, but he's got more important things on his mind. The only candidate I see is Houston's Michael Bourn, who might approach 60 steals this season and might someday challenge the record if he keeps getting on base more than 35 percent of the time.