HomeTrending MLB NewsWhich MLB players have the most career stolen bases?

Which MLB players have the most career stolen bases?

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The name of the game in baseball is to outscore the other team (obviously) and the easiest way to do that is to put runs on the board in a hurry. That’s why so much attention is consistently given to the players with extra-base power, those that can flip a game with one massive swing. In recent years, players that excel in different elements of the game — small ball, if you will — have often been overlooked. That all changed with the rule changes the sport made last offseason though. The stolen base in particular is emphatically back, as limiting the amount of times pitchers can throw over and increasing the size of the bases has made it a much higher percentage play. With that in mind, let’s dive into the players who have swiped the most career bags. 

 

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Rickey Henderson (1,406)

Photo by Michael Macor / Oakland Tribune and Digital First Media Group/Oakland Tribune via Getty Images

I feel like most baseball fans could probably have told you that Rickey Henderson is the all-time stolen base king, but it’s amazing just how far clear of the rest of the field he really is. Henderson stole 468 more bases than second-place Lou Brock, and it’s safe to say his record will almost certainly never be broken. The outfielder played for nine different teams during his 25 seasons in the major leagues, and he incredibly led the league in thefts twelve times. In addition to being the all-time stolen base leader, he’s also been thrown out attempting to steal more than anyone. Obviously he was successful more often that not, and consistently putting himself in scoring position is the leading factor for why he also holds the record for most runs scored. 

 

Lou Brock (938)

Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images

Prior to Henderson bursting onto the scene and stealing his thunder, longtime Cardinals outfielder Lou Brock was considered the standard for speed and base-stealing ability. The El Dorado, AR native played in more than 2,600 major league games and registered 938 stolen bases. He stole more than 40 bags in a campaign 13 times, and led the league in the category in eight out of nine seasons from ’66-’74. 

 

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Billy Hamilton (914)

Billy Hamilton (914)

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When you first read the name Billy Hamilton you probably first thought of the speedy outfielder who not long ago was one of the more feared stolen-base artists in the game. But your next thought was likely something along the lines of, ‘Was he really around long enough to steal over 900 bases?’ The answer to that is no. There was an outfielder with the same name who debuted all the way back in 1888, whose stolen-base prowess was simply second to none. This Hamilton stole a ridiculous 914 bags in only 14 seasons, leading the league in thefts five times and stealing more than 100 bases in four different campaigns. 

 

Ty Cobb (897)

Photo by Charles M. Conlon/Sporting News via Getty Images Archive via Getty Images

Tigers legend Ty Cobb remains arguably the best pure hitter in baseball history, and the problem for opposing pitchers was if he singled against you, he was often on second base in a matter of moments. Cobb understandably gets a ton of attention even now for his remarkably high .366 career batting average and the 12 batting titles he won, but let’s talk about what a menace he was after reaching base. He swiped more than 50 bases in a season nine times and led the league in the category on six different occasions. His consistent bat and blazing speed helped contribute to him leading the league in runs scored five separate times. 

 

Tim Raines (808)

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Switch-hitter Tim Raines played for a handful of big league teams, but he did his best work with the Montreal Expos, with whom he starred for 13 seasons. In Montreal, Raines was a perennial all-star and MVP candidate, and it’s where he became one of the premier stolen-base threats in the National League. The Sanford, FL native led the league in steals for four consecutive seasons from ’81-’84, and he actually stole 70 or more bases in six straight years. Raines was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017 and he remains one of only five players to steal more than 800 bases at the sport’s highest level. 

 

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Vince Coleman (752)

Vince Coleman (752)

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Playing in the same era as the aforementioned Tim Raines, fellow switch-hitter Vince Coleman was probably the only stolen-base artist more feared by opposing National League clubs. Playing for St. Louis, Coleman led the league in steals in each of his first six major league seasons, and he incredibly swiped 107 or more bags in each of his first three campaigns. The Jacksonville, FL native was not nearly the all-around hitter or player that some of his peers were, and he didn’t have quite the same staying power as he only played for 13 years. But at his peak there was not a better base-stealer in baseball. 

 

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Arlie Latham (742)

Arlie Latham (742)

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Arlie Latham is another player on this list who did the bulk of his work in the 1800s, debuting in 1880 and later going on to become a cornerstone player for both the St. Louis Browns and Cincinnati Reds. Latham was not the most feared hitter, slashing a lifetime .269/.334/.341 with only 357 extra-base hits, but he was consistently a terror on the basepaths. In 17 seasons, he swiped 742 bags, and he racked up 238 of them in a two-year span in 1887 and 1888. 

 

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Eddie Collins (741)

Eddie Collins (741)

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Second baseman Eddie Collins is a Hall of Famer we’ve talked about in several galleries, and he’s someone whose resume seems to get more impressive each time you look at it. Collins had a hand in six World Series championships, won an MVP award, and slashed a lifetime .333/.424/.429. Most relevant to this discussion, he also swiped 741 bases, and led the league in the category four times. 

 

Max Carey (738)

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Switch-hitting outfielder Max Carey spent the vast majority of his career in Pittsburgh with the Pirates, debuting in 1910 and wearing the black and yellow for 17 years before finishing his career in Brooklyn. All told, Carey slashed an impressive .285/.361/.386, and while he didn’t hit for a great deal of power, he did enjoy wrecking havoc on the bases. Carey led the league in steals 10 times, and stole more than 50 bases in a season on six different occasions. He was voted into Cooperstown by the Veteran’s Committee in 1961. 

 

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Honus Wagner (723)

Honus Wagner (723)

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From one Hall of Fame Pirates player to another, let’s talk about shortstop Honus Wagner. At his peak, there was not a better all-around baseball player in the game than the Chartiers, PA-born Wagner, who won an outstanding eight batting titles and slashed a lifetime .328/.391/.467. Consistently hitting his way on base gave him ample opportunities to steal bases, something Wagner was also incredibly adept at. He led the league in steals in five different campaigns, and he swiped more than 40 in a season eight times. 

 

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Joe Morgan (689)

Joe Morgan (689)

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Joe Morgan is considered by some pundits to be the best second baseman in history, and it’s easy to see why. In 22 major league seasons, he slashed an excellent .271/.392/.427 with 813 extra-base hits and 1,133 RBI. He won two MVP awards, two World Series rings and five Gold Gloves, and most pertinent to this gallery, was one of the greatest base-stealers of his generation. Morgan never led the league in stolen bases, but consistently swiped 40 or more in a season, surpassing that round number in nine consecutive campaigns from ’69-’77. 

 

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Willie Wilson (668)

Willie Wilson (668)

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Switch-hitter Willie Wilson was a core contributor in Kansas City for a decade and a half before finishing his career in Oakland and Chicago, but wherever he called home, his elite speed was an asset. Never much of a home run threat, Wilson made his living both playing tremendous outfield defense at a premium position and stealing bases. He swiped more than 40 bags in a season seven times and led the majors with 83 steals in 1979. 

 

Tom Brown (658)

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Outfielder Tom Brown was born across the pond in Liverpool, but for 17 seasons he competed at the highest level of Major League Baseball. The small-statured Brown debuted in 1882 and played until 1898, bouncing between nine organizations. In a wild bit of context, his time in the game precedes when they even kept stolen bases as a statistic, so his real total is likely significantly higher than the 658 on record. What we do know is that he swiped more than 40 in a season eight different times, and led the league in stolen bases twice. 

 

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Bert Campaneris (649)

Bert Campaneris (649)

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Shortstop Bert Campaneris was probably the premier stolen-base artist in the American League during the 1960s, as he terrorized opposing pitchers and catchers while with the Athletics early in his career. In total, Campaneris suited up for four different major league clubs and played in more than 2,300 games at the sport’s highest level. He didn’t provide much extra-base power, as evidenced by his lifetime .342 slugging percentage, but he led the league in stolen bases six times, and earned three World Series rings. 

 

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Kenny Lofton (622)

Kenny Lofton (622)

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Speedy outfielder Kenny Lofton actually suited up for eleven teams during his 17-year career, though the vast majority of his action came with the Indians. In Cleveland during the early 1990s Lofton was a star, leading the league in steals in his first five seasons, swiping well over 50 bags in each campaign. Later in his career his speed diminished just a little, but he was always an astute baserunner who understood when he could sneak a base. 

 

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Otis Nixon (620)

Otis Nixon (620)

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Switch-hitting center fielder Otis Nixon bounced around the big leagues for 17 years, though he was a much better player than you’d expect from a typical journeyman. In 1,709 career major league contests, Nixon slashed .270/.343/.314, and while he had very little power, he made his mark with his legs. The Evergreen, NC native swiped more than 35 bases in 12 different seasons, consistently making him an important contributor for his club. 

 

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George Davis (619)

George Davis (619)

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Hall of Fame switch hitter George Davis was an integral ingredient for the Cleveland Spiders, New York Giants and Chicago White Sox during his two decades in the major leagues, and for the majority of his career was one of the more complete players in the sport. In 2,372 games, Davis slashed .295/.362/.405 with 689 extra-base hits and 1,440 RBI. He won a World Series ring with the White Sox in 1906, and while he never led the league in stolen bases, his consistency in the category helped him compile 619 thefts before his playing days were over. 

 

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Juan Pierre (614)

Juan Pierre (614)

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Scrappy outfielder Juan Pierre was the epitome of a player who was able to make a huge impact on games without virtually any power. He had excellent bat-to-ball skills and could consistently get on base, and once he reached first base you could almost pencil him into scoring position. Pierre stole more than 30 bases in eleven different seasons, and led the league in steals three different times. His ability to be a constant pest for the opposition contributed heavily towards the Marlins’ run to a World Series title in 2003. 

 

Billy Hoy (596)

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Outfielder Billy Hoy made his major league debut all the way back in 1888, and went on to appear in 1,797 games across 14 seasons. Hoy did not possess much power, and only has 40 home runs on his professional ledger, but he did have difference-making speed. As a rookie he stole a league-high 82 bases, and he would go on to swipe 50 or more in an additional four campaigns. 

 

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Maury Wills (586)

Maury Wills (586)

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Shortstop Maury Wills did not have the longevity to catapult his name higher on this list, but he was without question one of the greatest base stealers we’ve ever seen. Playing predominantly for the Dodgers, Wills was a nightmare for opposing pitchers and catchers to deal with. He stole 40 or more bases in seven different seasons, and led the league in thefts for six consecutive years from ’60-’65. 

 

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George Van Haltren (583)

George Van Haltren (583)

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Left-handed swinging George Van Haltren played for five major league teams in his 17-year career, most notably the New York Giants, whom he starred for for most of the 1890s. Van Haltren was not considered much of a power hitter but was able to consistently impact games with his legs. The St. Louis, MO native swiped more than 40 bases six times, and led the league in stolen bases in 1900. 

 

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Ozzie Smith (580)

Ozzie Smith (580)

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Shortstop Ozzie Smith is most known for being the defensive standard at the most important position on the diamond. His 13 Gold Gloves are the primary reason he was selected to 15 All-Star Games and is now in the Hall of Fame. While Smith wasn’t necessarily a dangerously potent hitter, he did possess a specific skillset that translated from the defensive side of the ball: elite speed. Smith stole 30 or more bases in 11 different campaigns, and compiled an eye-opening 580 steals during his career. 

 

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Hugh Duffy (574)

Hugh Duffy (574)

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Hall of Fame outfielder Hugh Duffy is yet another player on this list who made his debut in the 1800s, as he first reached the big leagues with the Cubs in 1888 and went on to play 17 seasons at the sport’s highest level. In 1,737 career games, Duffy slashed .326/.386/.451 with 550 extra-base hits, 1,302 RBI, and most relevant to this gallery, 574 stolen bases. 

 

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Bid McPhee (568)

Bid McPhee (568)

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Messina, NY born Bid McPhee played for the Cincinnati Reds for 18 seasons, and in many of those campaigns was the club’s premier attraction. He slashed .272/.355/.373 in 2,138 career games, while playing an excellent defensive second base. McPhee was not much of a power threat — very few players in his era were — but was consistently able to be an asset for the Reds. On the basepaths he swiped 568 bags, a number that in actuality is much higher, as for the first four years of his career stolen bases were not even a tabulated statistic. 

 

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Brett Butler (558)

Brett Butler (558)

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Speedy center fielder Brett Butler suited up for five different clubs during his 17 seasons in Major League Baseball, and was a productive contributor for all of them. While Butler’s lifetime .290/.377/.376 slash line is more than acceptable, his game-changing speed was his strongest asset. The Arizona State University product stole more than 30 bases in a season 12 times, and even led the league in triples on four separate occasions. 

 

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Davey Lopes (557)

Davey Lopes (557)

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Even now, roughly 35 years since he retired, Davey Lopes is still renowned as one of the greatest baserunners in our sport’s history, and for good reason. The four-time all-star slashed .263/.349/.388 in 16 seasons, and while he did contribute 437 extra-base hits, his legs were undoubtedly his greatest attribute. Lopes stole more than 40 bases in a season six times, and led the league in thefts in both 1975 and 1976. 

 

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Cesar Cedeno (550)

Cesar Cedeno (550)

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Bubbly, energetic Cesar Cedeno did not play nearly as long as some of the other players on this list, but in the 2,006 big league games he did participate in he certainly left his mark. The Dominican Republic native slashed a lifetime .285/.347/.443 with 695 extra-base hits and 976 RBI. He was also easily one of the game’s most talented stolen-base threats for essentially the entirety of his career. Cedeno swiped more than 50 bags in six consecutive seasons from ’72-’77 and finished his playing days with an impressive 550 thefts. 

 

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Bill Dahlen (548)

Bill Dahlen (548)

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Infielder Bill Dahlen first appeared in a major league game in a Chicago Cubs uniform all the way back in 1891, and the Nelliston, NY native would go on to spend the next 21 years of his life competing at baseball’s highest level. Dahlen played for four different organizations and participated in over 2,400 big league contests, slashing .272/.358/.382. While he wasn’t a significant power threat, he wrecked havoc on the bases, swiping 548 bags. He was a model of consistency stealing bases, as he was able to accumulate such a high career total despite registering more than 50 steals only twice. 

 

John Ward (540)

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There were plenty of talented two-way players long before Shohei Ohtani, including John Ward, who played infield and pitched for four different teams from 1878-1894. Ward was a difference maker on the mound, pitching to a 2.10 career ERA in 293 outings. Offensively, he was no slouch either, slashing a lifetime .275/.314/.341, albeit with very little power. His primary offensive value was provided with his legs, which he used to lead the league in stolen bases twice — including his eye-opening 111 thefts in 1887. 

 

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Herman Long (537)

Herman Long (537)

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Left-handed swinging shortstop Herman Long played 16 seasons in Major League Baseball, and like so many of the players on this list, his most prolific attribute was his speed. The Chicago, IL native did produce 530 extra-base hits during his career, but his proficiency on the basepaths gave his opponents more anxiety than his bat. Long swiped 537 career bases, and reached 35 or more in a season on seven different occasions. 

 

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Patsy Donovan (518)

Patsy Donovan (518)

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Irish-born outfielder Patsy Donovan played in 1,824 major league games — the majority coming with the Pittsburgh Pirates — and for parts of 17 seasons he was a productive piece on some pretty good teams. Donovan slashed a lifetime .301/.348/.355, and was one of the more adept bat-to-ball hitters of his era. On the bases he was a menace, swiping more than 30 bags in a season nine times — including his league-high 45 thefts in 1900. 

 

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Jack Doyle (518)

Jack Doyle (518)

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Like the previously mentioned Patsy Donovan, Jack Doyle was originally born in Ireland before coming to the United States and playing Major League Baseball. Doyle was a versatile player, playing first base, outfield, and even some catcher, while providing consistent offensive value to all 10 of the teams he played with. Doyle slashed a lifetime .299/.351/.385, and most relevant to this conversation, stole 518 bases in his 1,569 career games. 

 

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Jose Reyes (517)

Jose Reyes (517)

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Early in his career, switch-hitting shortstop Jose Reyes was the premier base stealer in the National League, and someone who traumatized opposing team’s batteries. Reyes led the league in steals in three consecutive campaigns from ’05-’07 and swiped more than 30 bags in a season eight times. He also used his legs to pace the league in triples four separate times. 

 

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Barry Bonds (514)

Barry Bonds (514)

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Stealing bases is not what won Barry Bonds seven National League MVP awards, but people tend to forget that early in his career his speed was a huge part of his all-around game. The left-handed slugger stole more than 28 bases in a season twelve times and is one of only a handful of players to turn in a 40/40 campaign. Obviously in his mid-to-late 30’s Bonds morphed into an unstoppable power machine — albeit with a little bit of help — but in his early days he was an elite physical talent that could do things on a baseball field that almost nobody else could. 

 

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Fred Clarke (509)

Fred Clarke (509)

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Left fielder Fred Clarke played in the big leagues for more than two decades in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and was a critical piece for both the Louisville Colonels and the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2,246 career games, Clarke slashed a lifetime .312/.386/.429 with 67 homers, 1,015 RBI, 361 doubles, 220 triples, and most pertinent to this discussion, 509 stolen bases. He swiped more than 30 bases in a season seven times, and was voted into the Hall of Fame by the Old Timers Committee in 1945. 

 

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Harry Stovey (509)

Harry Stovey (509)

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Right-handed swinging Harry Stovey grew up in Philadelphia, PA, and it had to be a thrill for him to spend seven of his 14 major league seasons with his hometown Philadelphia Athletics. In 1,489 career games at the sport’s highest level, Stovey slashed .288/.361/.462 with 646 extra-base hits and 912 RBI. He also led the league in steals twice on his way to 509 official stolen bases — though his actual number is undoubtedly significantly higher. That’s because (as previously mentioned) they weren’t even counting steals as an official statistic for the first six seasons of his career. 

 

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Ichiro Suzuki (509)

Ichiro Suzuki (509)

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Ichiro Suzuki is another player on this list who stole a lot more bases in his career than the number listed above, but for a much different reason than the aforementioned Harry Stovey. Accurate record keeping was no issue during Suzuki’s career, but he didn’t come over from Japan until his age-27 season, so if you factor in his NPB-league stolen bases he obviously would be much, much higher on this list. As it is, he led the league with 56 steals as a ‘rookie’, and went on to swipe more than 30 in a season 10 times. 

 

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Luis Aparicio (506)

Luis Aparicio (506)

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Shortstop Luis Aparicio spent 18 seasons in the big leagues and compiled quite an impressive resume. He was the 1956 AL Rookie of the Year, won nine Gold Gloves, made 13 all-star teams, and was a member of the World Series-winning 1966 Baltimore Orioles. He was also the premier base-stealer in the American League during the first half of his career. Aparicio led the AL in steals in each of his first nine seasons, and swiped more than 50 bases in a single campaign four times. His speed diminished a bit as he got older, but he’s still one of only 39 players to steal more than 500 bases in the majors. 

 

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Paul Molitor (504)

Paul Molitor (504)

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Hall of Famer Paul Molitor was one of baseball’s most complete players during the 1980s and 1990s, and someone opposing pitchers routinely had nightmares about dealing with. In 21 career seasons, Molitor slashed .306/.369/.448 with 953 extra-base hits and 1,307 RBI. In addition to being a significant threat with a bat in his hands, Molitor was also incredibly dangerous on the basepaths. He swiped more than 30 bases in a season eight times, and relatively sneakily finished his career with 504 thefts. 

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