Quest To Lead Pac-12 In Steals For 4th Year

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

SEATTLE, Wash. — Braiden Ward of the University of Washington could be the first player in Pac-12 Conference history to lead the league in stolen bases four straight years.

In three years with the Huskies, the talented leadoff hitter has swiped 55 bases (19 in 2018, 26 in 2019 and 10 in only 15 games during the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season).

This season, Ward has stolen 11 bases in 13 attempts over 14 games.

Two summers ago when he was playing in the Cape Cod League, he stunned scouts as he ran a 6.18 60-yard dash in the annual Cape League Day scout showcase at Fenway Park.

It was one of the fastest times ever at that event.

While Ward has incredible speed, this incredible athlete, who plays centerfield and shortstop, has made base stealing an art form through studying great stealers.

“Growing up, I was always fast,” said Ward.

“To be a good base runner and stealer, it helps to have speed. But it also is important to be smart and be quick. I had that going for me to start with.

“Over the years, I have met former coaches or ex-Major Leaguers who had great knowledge about the subject of stealing bases.

“I have a passion for learning everything I can about this subject. It is interesting to throw ideas back and forth with people like this so you gain a better understanding of the little things it takes to be an accomplished base stealer.

“Ultimately, I looked at interviews that Ricky Henderson gave.”

Henderson, who played 25 years in the Major Leagues for nine different teams, holds the single-season record for stolen bases (130 in 1982) and is the only player in American League history to steal 100 bases in a season three times.

His 1,406 career steals is 468 higher than the previous record of 938 held by Lou Brock of the Cardinals.

“When I learned about Ricky Henderson’s philosophy of stealing bases, that gave me great knowledge of how the best did it. And I have used that since.”

The 5-foot-10, 160-pound Ward explained the little things he has learned in stealing that has made him so successful.

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