KC Royals: Mondesi making mountains out of molehills

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Despite only reaching base 27.8% of the time, the KC Royals shortstop is taking advantage of those seldom opportunities to lead majors in stolen bases.

Although yet to have posted a solid on-base-percentage in his brief career, Adalberto Mondesi has dipped to a three-year low of .278 with just two games remaining in the season.  However, he is making the most of the situation not only leading the KC Royals in steals but the entire major leagues.

Mallex Smith managed to lead the majors in steals during 2019 with just a .300 OBP but prior to that leaders in that category often are well north of that mark.  The next time you have a player committing league-leading larceny while struggling to make it to first you have to go back over 30 years.

Despite safely getting on base at only a .301 clip, Vince Coleman swiped 107 bags in 1986.  He reached base 201 times that season which calculates to stealing a base 53% of the time he occupied a bag. In comparison, Mondesi has reach base 61 times in 2020 and has stolen 24 bases for a 39% rate.

The last time someone led the majors in steals while their OBP dropped south of .300 was a former Kansas City player.  Kansas City Athletics to be more specific.  Bert Campaneris swiped 55 bags while only reaching base at a .297 clip during the 1967 season.  KC lost their major league team after that season.

This is not a fluke for Mondesi either.  When he stole 43 bases last year he did so with only a .291 OBP.  By only reaching base 129 times he essentially swiped a bag 33% of the time.  The man can terrorize a defense on the base paths.

The KC Royals will have the MLB leader in steals for the second time in three years after Whit Merrifield accomplished the same feat in 2018.  If Nick Heath can stick with the team next year – 60 steals in minors during 2019 – that trio could prove a daunting distraction for the opposition.

Only being 24 years old and if Mondesi can develop more patience at the plate and raise his batting average to .280 he should have many more seasons of league-leading steals in those legs.  One hundred swipes would not be out of the equation and that number has not been seen in the majors since the aforementioned Coleman accomplished it in 1987.

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During Friday’s game, Mondesi went 3-for-3 and stole two more bags giving him 24 on the year.  Let’s hope this momentum carries into 2021.