Chat with Amy Nelson
In the world of scouting, everything is viewed through a 20-80 prism. The ranking system is universal, and to tag any player with an 80 is the highest honor. For this debate, we're pitting two 80 base stealers against one another in Carl Crawford and Jose Reyes.Crawford, long tabbed as one of the fastest men in baseball, and Reyes, universally dubbed as a sparkplug, both led their respective leagues in stolen bases last season. Those polled around the game said that pure speed is just one of the tools that makes a superior base stealer. For Maury Wills, who stole a major league-high 104 bases in 1962 for the Dodgers and led the NL in swipes six straight seasons, one tool above all is what he preaches: confidence. "The first thing they have to eliminate is any fear of failing," said the 75-year-old Wills, who coaches Dodgers players in base stealing each spring training. "I've always said that in order to be a good base stealer you have to be arrogant." Crawford and Reyes both do fairly well in that category on the field. So the trouble is, how do you pick one over the other? "It's tough to debate two 80 guys," one NL scout said. Perhaps, but we're going to give it a try.
The Case for Crawford
The Case for Reyes
The choiceI'm in favor of the scout's advice: You can't go wrong with 80 guys. Crawford's agent told me the other day that Crawford's workouts are the most intense of his career, and that they are tailored to provide cushion to his legs and knees, so he can keep them fresh for the season. Since I saw much more of the Mets and Reyes in person last year, it's tough to not go with him. But don't bet against Crawford, especially this season with a new look and feel in the Tampa clubhouse. Vote: Which base stealer would your want on your team?
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