Uncommon Thievery: Power/Speed Threats
As one ages, lots of things start to happen to the body. In particular, those once vibrant legs start getting heavier and heavier. The older the body gets, the more susceptible to injury it becomes. Nagging injuries to the legs and back can play a large part in thwarting stolen base attempts. How, then, do we explain a player like Rickey Henderson taking 66 bases at the ripe old age of 39, or Ozzie Smith nabbing 30-plus bases three times after his 34th birthday? There has to be something else at work here. Why can true speedsters like the aforementioned Henderson and Smith sustain their speed well into their 30s while the power/speed players cannot?
It could be that the smaller, speedier players realize that they need their speed to survive in the league. Since most of their value is tied to their ability to wreak havoc on the bases, they must steal bases and play solid defense, or they won't stick in the bigs for long. Larger power hitters realize that speed is just one asset of their game. If they don't steal bases, so what? They'll just hit 30-40 home runs a year and keep earning a paycheck that way. It's a survival thing. Why should the big power hitters risk injury by stealing bases when they don't have to?
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