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New York Mets History

Mets Stolen Base Leaders: The most interesting, unexpected thieves to lead the team in a season

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - MARCH 23: A New York Mets player stands at first base during a spring training game against the Atlanta Braves at Champion stadium on March 23, 2019 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - MARCH 23: A New York Mets player stands at first base during a spring training game against the Atlanta Braves at Champion stadium on March 23, 2019 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
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Stolen bases aren’t a big part of today’s baseball world. The New York Mets haven’t had a guy steal 30 bases since 2014 when Eric Young Jr. successfully swiped as many.

This hasn’t always been the case. Jose Reyes, Howard Johnson, Mookie Wilson, and others struck fear into the hearts and minds of battery mates. When they got on base, you knew they could run.

For many years, those elite-level stolen base leaders have been replaced by some guys we might not expect to lead the team in this category. And that’s what this is all about—those leading thieves no one saw coming.

Mets had stolen base surprises just about every year in the 1960s

I won’t dive too deep into the 1960s Mets teams and who led those squads in SBs. Frankly, I’m not sure too many people under the age of 60 are even familiar with some of the names we find. Rod Kanehl, Dick Smith, etc. are lesser-known players who just happened to waltz from one base to another more than anyone else.

The 1965 season is somewhat noteworthy considering how few bases the club’s leaders had. Joe Christopher and Johnny Lewis tied for the team lead with 4. More than 50 years later, it remains a franchise low for the team lead.

1973 Mets saw Wayne Garrett lead the roster

Wayne Garrett wasn’t known for his stolen base prowess. Every season with the Mets, he did seem to find a way to at least pick up a few stolen bases.

The 1973 season was a weird one for the team given how many injuries they suffered through. Garrett, with a lousy 6 stolen bases, led the whole roster. Certainly no speed demon, he was just the player most interested in trying to take an extra bag and able to do so successfully.

All-or-nothing Dave Kingman leads the 1975 squad in SBs

In his first year in New York, Dave Kingman swatted 36 home runs for a new franchise record. However, the real story might have been his team-leading 7 stolen bases. You read it right. All-or-nothing Kingman was the best base stealer on a Mets team.

Kingman wasn’t some lumbering slugger like I think we have come to think of him as. He actually stole 85 bases in his career. Definitely not his greatest strength, he has one season of leading the club on his resume.

World Series-bound 2000 team didn’t run

Derek Bell and Lenny Harris were a part of the 2000 team that made it to the World Series. Did you ever realize they were the biggest stolen base threats on the roster? Each stole 8 bases for the club. Both veterans not known for their legs, it’s one of the more unusual stalemates to lead the team in any given year.

Bell was actually a somewhat underrated base-stealer. His 8 stolen bases in 2000 were actually his lowest in any full campaign. A similar statement could be said about Harris. However, the real surprise is that he played in only 76 games for the Mets in 2000. Combined with what he did with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the 35-year-old was successful 13 out of 14 attempts.

A tribute to the 1986 Mets bench. Next

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There are definitely a few honorable mentions along the way. Have some fun and check out Mets Ultimate Database for some other awesome and unexpected team leaders throughout the team’s history.

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