Who are the 8 KC Royals with 45 stolen bases in a single season?

Plenty of players have done this once or twice, but one player reigns supreme.

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You can thank KC Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. for this refresher. The young star is flirting with history this season, as he is on pace for 45 stolen bases. It got me thinking about which players have done this before.

Several past Royals have eclipsed that mark, but not many this century. The total stolen bases per MLB season was in steady decline starting in 2011 with 3,279. The MLB only saw 2,213 stolen bases in 2021, the fewest since the strike-shortened 1981 season. Base stealing is trending in the right direction once again though, with 2.597 stolen bags already this season.

The game is more fun when players are stealing bases. It also reminds Royals fans of better teams, ones that used speed and base stealing to efficiently score runs. The 2023 Royals are already one of the best base-stealing teams in the MLB, having the second-most stolen bases in the American League this year.

Fans don't need more speculation about what this team can do in a best-case scenario. Let's look at what has happened in the eight Royals who had at least 45 stolen bases in a single season.

Whit Merrifield - 2018

In his first full season with the major-league club, Whit Merrifield left a great first impression. The late-blooming infielder led the MLB with 192 hits and 45 stolen bases. He led the MLB in stolen bases in 2017 as well, but Merrifield clearly improved in baserunning between seasons. He was caught stealing 10 times as well, but that is not the point, right?

Johnny Damon - 2000

Johnny Damon became a well-traveled MLB veteran, but his first stop came in Kansas City. The Fort Riley native swiped 156 bags in his Royals career, but the most came in his final season with the team. He stole 46 bases in the 2000 season, leading all American League players.

Damon's stock was at an all-time high in Kansas City, as he became the first Royals player since 1971 with at least 15 home runs and 45 stolen bases. But alas, the Royals traded Damon to the Oakland Athletics before the 2001 season.