With two more stolen bases in the series opener against the Rockies at Coors Field on Memorial Day, the Diamondbacks are now a perfect 14-0 in stolen bases for the month. There are four games left, and they have a real shot at completing the first perfect month for stolen base attempts Arizona has ever enjoyed. The last D-back to be thrown out was Eduardo Escobar on April 19th, so the team has already gone a franchise record 34 games between having men caught stealing, and are 16-0 over that time. The previous best there was 30 games. That was set in August and September last season, so I suspect this is something for which we need to give thinks to the almighty Dave McKay.
The team has come close on a couple of occasions, having had two months with only one CS. August 2018 was one of those, though they were considerably more conservative, making only ten attempts. The sole man to be caught was, of all people, Paul Goldschmidt though at least he gave things up early, doing so on August 4. To find the previous example, you need to go all the way back to June 2007, when Arizona was 13-1 in stolen-base efforts. The only blot there was Eric Byrnes, but again, this happened relatively early, on June 6. At 92.9%, that month represents the highest success-rate for a calendar month. Arizona can even afford to get caught once in the remaining four games, and would still be better.
A couple of other months stand out. In August that same 2007 season, the D-backs were 25-2, with both CS’s belonging to center fielder Chris Young. There is also the insanity of August 2016 where, for some reason, the team suddenly decided to run wild, setting franchise records for stolen-base attempts (46) and stolen-bases (42). The latter is a clear ten more than any other calendar month, even the times when Byrnes or Tony Womack were in full flight. It is also three times the number they had the previous month. 10 players stole bases, including Braden Shipley. Jean Segura reached double-digits and the 91.3% rate ranks in the top five, so they weren’t just running, they were running effectively.
A perfect month on the bags may never have happened before for Arizona, but it isn’t particularly rare around the majors. However, caught stealing only became an official statistic for the 1951 season. That’s a bit weird, considering we have stolen-base numbers going back to at least 1886, though the rules in the early days were a bit different, For instance, going first to third on a single would get you a stolen-base. While not necessarily a BAD thing, in terms of measuring base-running ability, it helps explain why the MLB single-season record, set by Hugh Nicol of the American Association in 1887 with 138, is probably not going to be challenged anytime soon.
Since that 1951 introduction, there have been 44 perfect months completed. The last was by the Royals in June 2017, though only made seven attempts. The last in the NL were the Mets in 2015, who opened the season going 10-0 through the end of April - a month which also saw Oakland perfect (13-0). But if we treat number of stolen bases as a tie-breaker across all 100% successful months, the D-backs currently have the best month on record in the majors since the Red Sox ended the season in 2013. They went 19-0 for September and the World Series champions were successful in their final thirty-nine regular season stolen-base attempts that year, plus five more in the post-season before finally being thrown out.
Interestingly, the D-backs aren’t the only team having a good month. The Dodgers have also yet to be caught in May, and were tied with Arizona at 12-0 before our two stolen-bases this afternoon. As noted, the Mets and A’s were perfect in April 2015, but that’s the only case of two teams doing this feat in the same month over the past fifty years, save for strike-shortened cases (four were perfect in August 1994, when play stopped after the 11th, and three in April 1995, when the season didn’t start until the last week). There has never been two such teams out of one division, since the advent of divisional play. We will see what the final four days of the season may bring...