When it comes to the game of baseball, the speed of a player isn’t necessarily a top skill. But it sure is useful and that’s why some of the greatest MLB players are the fastest MLB players.
Speed kills, as the saying goes, and that’s particularly true on the base paths. Some guys have made their careers out of being fast if nothing else. And they deserve some recognition for it.
Who are the fastest MLB players ever?
There have been some greats that have flown around the base paths. But who are some of the all-time fastest MLB players?
Let’s take a look at a few MLB speed demons.
You can’t talk speed and not start with the “Man of Steal”. Rickey Henderson is the all-time MLB leader in stolen bases and it isn’t particularly close. Henderson finished his career with 1,406 swiped bags. He’s the only MLB player to reach 1,000 career stolen bases.
Henderson’s 130 stolen bases in 1982 is the highest single season total in MLB history. He’s the only player in the AL to swipe over 100 bags in a season, a feat he accomplished three times in his career. He led the AL in stolen bases 12 seasons and the majors in five seasons in his 25-year career. In addition, Henderson is the all-time leader in runs scored with 2,295.
Just to poke a little fun, he wasn’t a perfect base stealer. The speedy outfielder also has been caught stealing the most in MLB history, getting thrown out 335 times.
The man whose record Henderson broke, Lou Brock was a speedy sensation during the 1960s and ’70s. Brock has 932 stolen bases, good for the second-most all time.
The outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals led the majors six times in stolen bases and led the NL eight. He was able to finally steal more than 100 bases in his age-35 season in 1974, where he swiped 118. Brock could also swing the bat, as he’s a career .293 hitter.
1900’s Billy Hamilton
Not to be confused with modern-day Billy Hamilton (we’ll get to him shortly), the Billy Hamilton of the late 1800’s played two seasons in the American Association before switching over to the National League. The outfielder then played six season each with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Beaneaters.
Hamilton sits third all-time with 914 stolen bases. Four times, he was able to steal over 100 bases in a season and led the majors in that category five times.
2000’s Billy Hamilton
There must be some rule that if you’re named Billy Hamilton and play baseball, you have to be fast.
Hamilton, currently on the Chicago White Sox, broke onto the scene in 2013, stealing 13 bases in 13 games with the Cincinnati Reds. He has eight stolen bases in 2021. In total, the outfielder has 313 stolen bases in 897 games played.
Given that he’s a .240 career hitter, Hamilton has been able to make a career with his speed on the base paths, as well as in the outfield.
One of the greatest baseball players of all time, Ty Cobb was a weapon with a bat and with his feet. He’s mostly remembered for having the best career batting average of all time (.366), but his speed was something to behold as well.
Cobb has the fourth-most stolen bases of all time with 897. He led the whole league five times and in the AL six. Between his speed and his offensive ability, he also led the majors in runs scored three times and the AL five.