Top 5 speedsters in baseball

5. Joey Gathright – Tampa Bay Devil Ray (OF, minors)

Joey Gathright has been called the fastest player in the league, he’s even been called the fastest man in the world, but he has yet to receive playing time in the big leagues. Gathright could be that guy, hitting the 100 SB mark. However, he will have to wait with a packed OF roster in Tampa Bay. Joey Gathright is so fast, so athletic that he can jump over a car…for a long time. “But I can’t take it anymore,” Gathright said. “He’s in my contract. I’m not allowed to jump over cars anymore. I can’t jump over fences either.” Gathright could get a call up to the majors sometime in 2004. Steals projection this season: 45, between the Minors and Majors.

4. Rafael Furcal – Atlanta Braves (SS)

If Rafael Furcal had more SB opportunities, he could easily steal more than 50 bases in a single season, but the Braves don’t send him enough. Furcal stole 25 bases last year and was caught stealing just twice. With Furcal’s speed, he should get twice as many steals as he did last season. In 2000, Furcal stole 40 bases, so why don’t they send him now? SB aside, Furcal showed his speed last season when he scored 130 runs as the leadoff hitter for the Braves, good enough to rank third in the majors. With some of the big name sluggers out of Atlanta, the Braves need to find a new way to produce runs, and Furcal will be a key part of that. Projected steals this season: 40

3. Carlos Beltran – Kansas City Royals (OF)

Carlos Beltrán stole 41 bases last season, and was only thrown out 4 times. That’s a ratio of 10 draws to 1 discard, and that’s an amazing ratio. Not only can Beltran run the bases well, but he hit 25 HRs, hit 100 RBIs and hit .307 last season. Carlos Beltrán is a god of fantasy in every way. He should steal more bases this season because he missed 20 games last season due to injuries. Carlos Beltran is a 4-10 overall pick and he won’t let you down with his speed. Projected steals this season: 55

2. Juan Pierre – Florida Marlins (OF)

Pierre led the leagues in SB last season, so why isn’t he the best speedster? Well, he got CS 20 times. Pierre is on a Florida team that loves to run, 5 Florida hitters stole bases in double figures last season and Pierre was their leader. Batting at the top of the order, Pierre would get on base and then proceed to try to steal second. Pierre tried to steal once every 3 or 4 times he got on base. Pierre’s fantasy value skyrocketed last season, and he should get as many steals this season as he did last year. Projected steals this season: 58

1. Carl Crawford – Tampa Bay Devil Rays (OF)

So, you might be wondering, why Crawford over Pierre or Beltran? Carl Crawford stole 55 bases last year, in his first full season, Crawford stole 55 bases and was CS 10 times. That’s 5.5 SB to 1 CS, which is way better than Juan Pierre’s ratio. Crawford should only improve his speed in the coming seasons, in which his entire team will improve around him. In his best season, Crawford was able to steal more than 70 bases and score more than 120 runs. Projected steals this season: 63

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