Last year, the Marlins didn’t steal often. They were 13th in the National League in the stolen base department with only 55 swipes and were 12th in the caught stealing stat. Miami’s best thief—Jon Berti—registered only 17.
But this time, it’s been a different story for Miami, thanks in part to the arrival of speedy Dominican Jonathan Villar and Berti’s consistency. Through Monday, both of them have combined to steal 11 bags and have been caught just once (Villar).
No team in baseball has stolen more bases than the Marlins (20), except for the San Diego Padres (24). Tommy Pham, Fernando Tatís Jr., and Trent Grisham combine for 15 successful attempts.
Regarding Villar and Berti, what they’ve done is impressive, something almost never seen before by the team. In Marlins history, there have only been two other pair of teammates to record at least five steals within the first 15 team games: Quilvio Veras and Gary Sheffield in 1995 and Devon White and Luis Castillo two years later (1997).
If we were playing a usual 162-game regular season, Villar and Berti’s pace would have us with eyes wide open. Why? Well, Villar would be aiming to finish with 65 steals—Juan Pierre’s franchise record set back in 2003—and Berti would be on pace to get 54. No couple in Marlins history has ever registered 50 stolen bases apiece.
But obviously, they won’t reach those numbers as the Fish have already played more than 25% of the season.
However, if he keeps stealing bases the way he’s been doing it so far, Jonathan could set a record for Miami in the 60 first games of any campaign (right now he’s on pace for 24). Until now, those honors belong to Chuck Carr (1993) and Luis Castillo (2000), who both registered 26.