When Daniel Nava was thrown out trying for second on a hit-and-run in the eighth inning Tuesday against the Rays, it marked the first time in the team’s last 46 attempts that a Red Sox player was caught stealing.
Of course, technically, that’s mixing regular-season and postseason games. No matter what happens the rest of this month, the Red Sox will have finished the regular season with a streak of 39 straight steals, and depending on how you want to look at it, they’ll also carry that into next season. It’s not some sort of sacred record, so MLB probably doesn’t care much either way.
But the Red Sox’s streak of 45 streak steals is somewhere around as unlikely as a 45-game hitting streak would be. Besides the Red Sox, AL teams were successful on 72.5 percent of their steals this year. That 72.5 percent is also roughly about how often a .300 hitter gets one hit per game. The major league leader (Adam Jones) had 121 one-hit games this year or 75.6 percent of his games played. Miguel Cabrera was up at 79.8 percent, while Andrew McCutchen was at 70.7.
Maybe that’s not the best comparison. But a team that stole at a .725 clip, like the rest of the AL, would have a 1 in 1.9 million chance of making it to 45 straight without being caught. Bump that up to an 80 percent success rate, it’s still 1 in 23,000. And then there’s Chase Utley; he’s the best percentage basestealer (min. 100 steals) since they started tracking caught stealing at 88.356 percent. Even at that success rate, getting to 45 in a row is a 1 in 262 shot.