Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr. led the MLB with a franchise-record 73 stolen bases last season in the first year of baseball’s new rules designed to increase stolen bases and make them easier to achieve.
Former base-bagger Michael Bourn thinks he could top that in today’s game.

With the addition of the pitch clock, Bourn told that he could steal 100 bases if he played with the current era’s rules.

“I would definitely do it,” Bourn said. “With five seconds on the pitch clock, I’ve never seen pitchers throw over.” 

Michael Bourn Stole 361 Bases In MLB Career 

Bourn’s career saw him play for six teams in 11 seasons, where he stole a total of 361 bases. The most he stole in a season though, 61 bases — a mark that he reached in 2009 and 2011 with the Astros and Braves.

Pitch Clock Makes Stealing Bases Easier

In light of new rules, prior to last season one player donned the 2023 campaign “Year of the Stolen Base,” according to CBS Sports’ Matt Snyder.

The addition of the pitch clock is part of it, allowing runners to know when the pitcher will likely throw over — if at all — giving them an advantage in terms of timing.

To the pitcher’s advantage, they are allowed to reset the clock by attempting a pick-off, but they are only allowed two per plate appearances unless a runner advances.

Base Size Increased From 15 to 18 Inches

Outside of the pitch clock, another rule implemented in 2023 was the change of the size of bases. Bases went from 15 inches squared to 18 inches squared — giving runners a shorter distance to travel.

Stolen Base % At All-Time High: Most Steals Since 1987 

With that, the stolen base success-rate reached an all-time best in 2023 with 80.2%, a mark well above 2022’s 75.4%. That netted the MLB a total of 3,503 total stolen bases, the most in a season since 1987.

Bourn Could Steal 100 Bases Today 

The centerfielder out of Houston led the league in stolen bases from 2009-11, with 61, 52 and 61, respectively. In those seasons, Bourn peaked with an 83.5% stolen base success rate, a mark just below Acuña’s 83.9%.

With Acuña’s season coming in the first year of the new rules, it’s expected that his numbers will only increase.

Still, the 100-base mark hasn’t been reached since the aforementioned 1987 season, with MLBbro Vince Coleman stealing 109 bags. If under the current production, the closest players have gotten is Acuña’s 73, there’s no guarantee base-stealing specialists like Bourn can do the same.


Who else could hit the century mark?

In Bourne’s era of baseball, there’s only one player who has surpassed 73 stolen bases: long-time Met José Reyes.

Reyes stole 78-of-91 bases in the 2009 season — an 85.7% success rate. In the current MLB, Reyes would likely further his heavy workload and attempt to take over 120 bases. At his 2009 pace, he would have stolen at least 102 bases.

Outside of Reyes, famous speedsters such as Carl Crawford and Dee Strange-Gordon could have easily achieved 100 steals. St. Louis Cardinals speedster Victor Scott is just getting started and could swipe 100 someday. If Billy “The Slid” Hamilton gets another crack at the league, he could do it with his eyes closed.

In 2023, between Double A and A ball, Scott swiped 94 bases in 132 games. Then swiped another 18 in 23 fall league games.

Any player in today’s game capable of stealing 60 or more bases without the new rules could swipe 100 bases with enough opportunities under these current rules. The century mark will likely be hit by the best of the best bag swipers, which Bourn was. He would be licking his chops if he still played today.

For now, Bourn will continue giving his honest analysis in his job as an announcer.


Share This