Esteury Ruiz is on track to win the MLB stolen-base crown
The Oakland A’s need some good news and it comes in the form of Esteury Ruiz’s steal rate, which sees him on track to win the MLB stolen-base crown.
In the midst of a season that could go down as the worst for any team in modern Major League Baseball history and multiple reports pointing to an imminent move from Oakland to Las Vegas, there is one lone positive for the embattled A’s in the form of Esteury Ruiz.
With 31 losses in only 30 games, the A’s are on track to reach 134 losses, which would see them tie the worst-ever MLB record, matching the 1899 Cleveland Spiders. Even if they manage to win a few games, they are still likely to top, or is that bottom, the 2003 Detroit Tigers who had a stinker of a season, finishing 43-119. As it stands, there are few bright spots on the bleak Oakland Athletics’ dark horizon.
Dominican center fielder Esteury Ruiz is one of them though. He currently leads the majors with 17 stolen bases.
Oakland hasn’t had a player finish at the top of the base-stealing column since legendary speedster Rickey Henderson, who stole 66 bases in 1998. Henderson accomplished that at the age of 39, when his career was already in decline and far from his best mark of 130 stolen bases, which he achieved in 1982 at the age of 23.
Although Commissioner Rob Manfred’s office and the Players Union introduced new rules designed to make the game more of a fan-pleasing spectacle, including increasing the size of bases, a pitch timer, and limiting pickoff attempts by the pitcher, all of which make stealing bases easier, the stolen base ceiling is as far away for Ruiz as it is for any baseball player in 2023.
However, Esteury’s physical condition and, above all, his speed could lead him to exceed 66 stolen bases, a bright spot for the Athletics, even if it is in an individual stat box.
The center fielder is currently on track to reach 77 stolen bases, which would match the highest total by any AL player since Henderson in 1989.
Although Esteury is a newly-emerging name in the Show, those in the know have been aware of him for some time, especially since taking the MiLB stolen base crown last season with 85 in only 114 games.
To steal, you have to first reach base, and Ruiz is hitting .276 with a .329 on-base percentage.
Ruiz posted a 10-game hitting streak that ended on May 10, which is the longest hitting streak by an A’s player since Tony Kemp’s 11 games in 2022.
CHANCES TO BE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Staking out the everyday leadoff spot in the A’s lineup, Ruiz maintains his candidacy for what could be a loaded field of AL Rookie of the Year contenders. As long as he continues stealing bases, he will be hard to ignore come season’s end. Especially if he manages to break that AL rookie stolen base record set by Kenny Lofton in 1992.