Is Cabrera the best base-stealer in the National League?

The Nicaraguan speedster is in the hunt to lead the National League in stolen bases for the 2012 season

After swiping three bases on Sunday afternoon against the San Francisco Giants, Nicaragua’s Everth Cabrera is only two stolen bases behind National League leader Michael Bourn, who has 39 steals for the Atlanta Braves. 

Cabrera, the San Diego Padres’ speedy shortstop from Nandaime, has eight steals in his last 10 games and 37 on the season. He’s also swinging a hot bat, hitting .333 over the past 10 games, including a stellar 4-4 performance last Sunday. That means Cabrera is getting on base more and might have a chance in the final week of the season to become the first Nicaraguan to lead the league in stolen bases.

Cabrera is already arguably the best base-stealer in the National League. In only 106 games this season, he has swiped 37 bases and only been caught three times. In comparison, Bourn has stolen 39 bases in 151 games and been caught stealing 12 times. Meanwhile, José Reyes, the Mets fleet-footed middle infielder, is in second place on the NL leaders’ list, with 36 stolen bases in 151 games. Reyes has been caught stealing 10 times this season.

The statistics, therefore, would seem to favor Cabrera with nine games left to go in the 2012 season, which has been the Nicaraguan’s career best. Already Cabrera as many steals in the 2012 season as he had in the previous three seasons combined.

If the young Padre can stay in the lineup and continue to get on base over the next nine games, he could—quite literally—give the National League’s top base stealers a run for their money.

In any event, it appears that Cabrera took to heart a bit of advice he got from Ricky Henderson, Major League Baseball’s all-time leader in stolen bases.

Cabrera told me he got a chance to meet Henderson in 2009 and asked him if it’s more important to be fast or smart on the bases. “Both,” Henderson told him.

“I asked him, ‘What helped you steal so many bases?’,” Cabrera said. “And he said he always believed that he was going to steal the base safely, and it never mattered to him who was catching.”

Cabrera, too, has started to show some of that self-confidence on the base paths. “I ask God to give me health, and I’ll take care of the rest,” he said.