Uncommon Thievery: AL speed notebook

Updated: May 10, 2007, 2:17 PM ET
By Brian McKitish | Special to ESPN.com
As the stats continue to accrue in this young season, it's becoming obvious that the art of the stolen base could experience a renaissance. The league is certainly fast enough for the stolen base to make a comeback. It's now just a matter of whether or not the managers will let their speedsters do what they do best: steal bases. Not only is the league as a whole stealing bags at a 71 percent success rate, but the elite speedsters are becoming increasingly successful at their craft. As of Monday, we had 34 players with five or more swipes on the season. The average success rate of those players? How does 81.5 percent sound? That's, well, ridiculously good. Consider this, the Man of Steal himself, Rickey Henderson, stole his 1,406 career bases at an 80.8 percent success rate. It's been pretty easy to steal bases this year, and that's why I can't have a negative outlook on anyone who's getting the green light from his manager.

American League Speed Notes

Sticking with the "it's easy to steal bases" theme, Ichiro Suzuki has a nice little streak going with 41 swipes in his last 41 attempts. Gerald Laird was the last catcher to gun him down way back in April of 2006. Now, for whatever reason, Ichiro has just two thefts this season as Mike Hargrove has been reluctant to send his leadoff hitter. It doesn't really make sense either, given Ichiro's brilliant success rate and Hargrove's pro-steal history. Remember, Hargrove managed Kenny Lofton to 70-plus swipes twice in the early '90s. I have to think that he'll start to put Ichiro in motion more and more as the season moves along.

Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com and is a two-time Fantasy Basketball Writer of the Year, as named by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

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