Lacking thieves

It’s no secret that the use of the stolen base as an offensive weapon has seen a significant decline over the last several years. The Toronto Blue Jays have certainly done a nice job of rendering it almost obsolete. Consider this: The Jays haven’t had a player steal 20 bases in a season since 2001, when Jose Cruz Jr. (32) and Raul Mondesi (30) managed the feat.
Last year, Vernon Wells led Toronto with just 17 stolen bases, while Alex Rios came in at No. 2 with 15. As a team, the Blue Jays swiped a total of just 65 bases (while being caught 33 times). That’s just five more than outfielder Dave Collins managed himself during the 1984 season, the year in which the Jays also set a team record with 193 stolen bases overall.
CollinsCollins swiped four of his club-record 60 bases in one game that year — an August 5 contest in Baltimore. That helped the Jays set a single-game team record of seven stolen bases that evening. Willie Upshaw (2) and Lloyd Moseby accounted for the others. Collins’ biggest streak on the basepaths occurred from July 23 – August 10, during which time he stole 16 bases, including at least one in 10 out of 13 games during that stretch.
Despite playing just two seasons in a Toronto uniform, Collins sits at No. 8 on the team’s all-time stolen base list with 91. He’s also one of only two players (Otis Nixon) in team history to record more stolen bases than RBIs among those players that have suited up as a Blue Jay in at least 200 games.
How about 2007? Well, the Blue Jays enter action Tuesday night with a total of 20 stolen bases this season, good for last in the American League. Collins may not be stealing bases anymore, but he is giving his players the green light. As the manager of the Class-A Inland Empire 66ers, Collins has seen his team swipe 76 bases so far this year, which ranks third overall in the California League.

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