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September marketing idea #3: Race for the 20th Stolen Base

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The final part of this series. I promise.

San Francisco Giants v Miami Marlins Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

Without looking it up, could you name the last Giant to steal 20 bags in a season?

Hmmm, well, no. He’s not really stealing the plastic bag in this picture — he’s posing as a wizard. Also, this isn’t about stealing plastic bags... I’m talking about bases. Stolen bases.

If you thought Ángel Pagán, you are wrong! It was Hunter Pence with 22 back in 2013 — quelle surprise! For a team that prides itself on defense, pitching, high contact offense with savvy baserunning, the Giants aren’t really all that great at stealing bases. In the AT&T Park Era, here’s the list of players with 20+ stolen bases in a season:

Hunter Pence (2013) - 22
Angel Pagan (2012) - 29
Gregor Blanco (2012) - 26
Andres Torres (2010) - 26
Randy Winn (2008) - 25
Fred Lewis (2008) - 21
Dave Roberts (2007) - 31
Omar Vizquel (2006) - 24
Omar Vizquel (2005) - 24
Marvin Benard (2000) - 22

As a team, the Giants have been a well below average stolen base team. Then again, they’ve won three world championships and hosted two historic home run chases: one crowned a new single-season home run king, another the all-time home run record.

So, you know, stolen bases probably aren’t all that important. Home runs are no longer the coin of the realm, of course, but as I proposed in September marketing idea #1, the Giants could always try to make a meager home run goal the focus of the season’s final month. Or, they could try yesterday’s plan to focus on a pitcher getting to 10 wins. Chris Stratton’s dominant performance against the Diamondbacks put him at nine, so, maybe the 10-win chase is less exciting.

Therefore, in my final proposal to the Giants’ Marketing department for how they can boost fan interest in September, let’s focus on the one last race that’s both exciting and possible, given the limitations of the Giants’ roster: The Race for the 20th Stolen Base.

Presently, Andrew McCutchen leads the team with a meager 13 stolen bases. Alen Hanson is second with six. That’s it! Just six! The Giants’ 58 stolen bases this season make them 18th in MLB. For fun, let’s take a quick look at the team’s stolen base totals (with league ranking) since the beginning of the AT&T Park Era (2000):

2018 - 58 (18th)
2017 - 76 (20th)
2016 - 79 (14th)
2015 - 93 (10th)
2014 - 56 (29th)
2013 - 67 (23rd)
2012 - 118 (10th)
2011 - 85 (24th)
2010 - 55 (30th)
2009 - 78 (21st)
2008 - 108 (tied for 10th)
2007 - 119 (8th)
2006 - 58 (26th)
2005 - 71 (19th)
2004 - 43 (30th)
2003 - 53 (28th)
2002 - 74 (22nd)
2001 - 57 (29th)
2000 - 79 (24th)

The Giants do not like to steal bases. In fact, since 2000, they account for just 2.7% of all stolen bases in Major League Baseball (52,421 and counting). They average about 75 a year, which is basically below league average over that span.

All the more reason for the Giants to make a meal out of the stolen base.

They don’t get on base very often, they’re not very fast, and they’re one of the worst bunting teams we’ve ever seen. Why not put that 20 stolen base mark on a pedestal and simply go for it?

My 20-home run prize suggestion involved money ($20,000) going to a cause of a player’s choosing, and my 10-game winner chase would’ve given perks and prizes to the individual pitcher, so I think I’ll mix a version of those two for this suggestion.

If Andrew McCutchen or Alen Hanson can reach 20 stolen bases by the end of the season, he should be rewarded with the fastest car on the planet, the Hennessey Venom F5 (claims to go 301 mph). But! Much like what they briefly did with the Home Run Derby, he should be competing on behalf of a lucky fan who entered a drawing. The fan would also receive their own Hennessey Venom or the cash equivalent.

Now, you might read this and say out loud on your BART train

Bryan, you idiot — that car costs $1.6 million dollars and they’re only making a limited number! This will never happen, please die and please bring back Grant before you do!

But I think given how no Giant is particularly close to this goal and even fewer Giants are major league average at getting on base (it’s important to remember in all of these marketing proposals that the Giants aren’t very good and don’t do many things even to their own industry’s average), this is a longshot that’s worth dreaming on and really worth — from the team’s perspective — going big on.

Sure, the Giants might run into a lot of outs, but they what else are they gonna do in September? Plus, with $1.6 million or the fastest car in the world on the line, that’s TV ratings. That’s attendance. Concessions. Extended interest.