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Tampa Bay Rays Tales: Carl Crawford, man of steal

Rays Rumblings

Vulcan-changeup throwing Joe Nelson may get beamed up, or at least hooked up, with new Star Trek movie star Zach Quinto, left, when the Rays hit Anaheim in August. And he's scheduled for a Trek-related segment this week on ESPN's First Take. … In one of those human resources/team-building drills, Rays employees had a scavenger hunt Friday at the Trop, but no one found B.J. Upton's power. … Joe Maddon is ranked the ninth-best manager by's Jon Heyman, who has Tony La Russa first. … Since April 4, the Rays have spent eight nights in Boston and 13 at home. … One reason Carlos Peña was saddened at the Manny Ramirez news? He'd be Ramirez when playing baseball games on his Sega Genesis. … Buster Olney's ESPN the Magazine piece includes some interesting tidbits on Evan Longoria, such as that he used to play water polo and slept on college teammate Troy Tulowitzki's futon. … Seeing the new Yankee Stadium was a big moment for Rays senior VP Michael Kalt, who spent years on the project for the New York Mayor's Office.

Got a minute? Michel Hernandez

Best meal you can make? Rice and beans with chicken, or pork.

Must-see TV? I like the soap operas on Telemundo.

Band you'd like to be on stage with? I like reggaeton, so Daddy Yankee.

Skill you have people don't know about? I'm pretty good at video games, action games.

With your wife's permission, dream date? The woman with Brad Pitt — Angelina Jolie.

Carl Crawford has been on the run. He tied the modern-day record with six steals in last Sunday's game, has been successful on his first 21 stolen base attempts this season (and 23 straight going back to last year) and swiped a bag in nine straight games before being shut out Thursday (with the trade-off of hitting a ninth-inning homer off Mariano Rivera). Crawford has stolen a lot before, averaging 53.6 a season from 2003-07 and leading the AL four times. But after his "down" year last season — 25 steals, only two after July 7 as he missed seven weeks with a hand injury — he has been getting a lot of attention.

From reporters, some of whom act, much to his amusement, like he just started running, and opposing teams, some of which are trying to find ways to stop him. Though Crawford laughed off the idea of becoming the first player to swipe 100 bags since Vince Coleman in 1987, he has his usual target of 50 and his own goal: to get through the season without getting thrown out, or at least as few times as possible.

"Pretty soon they're going to figure something out I'm pretty sure," Crawford said. "But I just try to pick my spots when I think I'm not going to get caught." Meanwhile, he's almost halfway to Coleman's 1989 season-starting mark of 44 straight. Crawford's career success rate of 83.46 percent ranks first among active players, third all-time.

The do run-run

Crawford's quick start has been attributed primarily to the renewed health of his legs, combined with modified offseason training. He has worked hard at getting better jumps (despite what the MLB Network's Harold Reynolds says), has expanded his lead by about a foot (at the suggestion of coach Dave Martinez) and improved at reading pitchers and choosing the right count to run. Then there's also his pure speed, as he still is among the fastest runners in the game. "That has a lot to do with it," Crawford said, suggesting MLB add a speed competition to the All-Star workout day to find out who's the fleetest.

Making it count

It doesn't always work out, but Crawford wants to make his steals matter. "That's my whole reason for stealing a base," he said. "The older you get, you don't want to waste your legs if you don't have to. So if I don't have to run, I'm definitely not going to. But when I can get into scoring position, that's what makes me excited about stealing a base."


Crawford almost always slides feet first, on his left side, and pops up when he gets to the base. He wonders if the pop-up sometimes gets him called out since he actually moves toward the tag, but he doesn't plan on changing. "The only time you'll see sliding head-first is if I think I got a really bad jump," he said.

Season steals leaders in MLB (since 1900)

130Rickey Henderson 1982 A's

118 Lou Brock 1974 Cards

110Vince Coleman 1985 Cards

109 Vince Coleman 1987 Cards


Highest season SB success rate

.969Brady Anderson (31-32) 1994 O's

.969Carlos Beltran (31-32) 2001 Royals

.962Max Carey (51-53) 1922 Pirates

.957Ichiro Suzuki (45-47) 2006 Mariners

.944Doug Glanville (34-36) 1999 Phillies

Minimum 30 attempts. Source: Stats, Inc.

Rays leaders in stolen bases

59Carl Crawford 2004

58 Carl Crawford 2006

55Carl Crawford 2003

50Carl Crawford 2007

46Carl Crawford 2005

44B.J. Upton 2008

39Julio Lugo 2005

31Jason Tyner 2001

28Miguel Cairo 2000

27Rocco Baldelli 2003

27Randy Winn 2002

Source: Rays

The rundown

The most consecutive successful stolen base attempts over a career is 50, by St. Louis' Vince Coleman, from Sept. 18, 1988, through July 26, 1989, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The AL mark is 45 by Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki, from April 2006 to May 2007.

The record for most steals over a full season without getting caught is 21, by Kevin McReynolds of the 1988 Mets.

Tampa Bay Rays Tales: Carl Crawford, man of steal 05/09/09 [Last modified: Saturday, May 9, 2009 11:33pm]
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