Esteury Ruiz joins Rickey Henderson in Athletics' elite stolen-base club

Speedy rookie Ruiz joins Henderson with elite stolen-base feat originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

When you think of an Athletics player stealing bases, one name immediately comes to mind: Rickey Henderson.

Twenty years later, there’s now a new player in an A’s uniform quickly sliding his way from base to base and into elite company alongside Henderson.

Esteury Ruiz, in his first season with Oakland, stole his 20th base and powered the walk-off hit in Tuesday’s 9-8 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks at the Coliseum. The 24-year-old rookie outfielder now joins a rare list of A’s players who have recorded at least 20 stolen bases through the first 44 games played.

Rare as in the only other player on that list is Henderson.

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For 25 seasons, Henderson’s rare mixture of speed and quick base-path judgment allowed him to become MLB’s all-time leader in stolen bases.

Henderson was the 1990 MVP, a two-time world champion, a 10-time all-star, a Gold Glover and a three-time Silver Slugger during his 25-year career that ended with a Hall of Fame induction in 2009. Surely not bad company to be in for Ruiz.

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Times are different now with the 2023 MLB rules changes in effect, which encourage more steals with bigger bases, a pitch clock and a limit on pickoff attempts. The distance from each base is now 4 1/2 inches shorter, and the runner automatically advances one base if a third pickoff attempt by a pitcher is unsuccessful.

With his speed, a .333 OBP so far this year and 118 games left to play, Ruiz has the chance to swipe many other historic feats.