Boston Red Sox pinch runner Quintin Berry is playing for his third different team in 2013. On Opening Day, the Detroit Tigers sent Berry down to Triple-A. After putting up a .168/.278/.234 line, he was designated for assignment two months later.
The Kansas City Royals snatched him up, and optioned him to Triple-A. He didn’t fare much better in their farm system, managing a .222/.343/.292 line.
Finally, at the end of August, the Red Sox swapped the erratic journeyman relief pitcher Clayton Mortensen for Berry. He appeared in 13 games, mainly as a pinch runner, and has appeared in each postseason series.
Quintin Berry is a one-tool player. He’s never hit more than six home runs in a season at any level, and he has problems making contact. Over eight years, his minor league OPS is just .682. T
he Tigers gave him a chance as a starter in 2012, but after a hot start that was fueled by a .407 BABIP, Berry hit just .211/.281/.308 after July 16, and his playing time was severely curtailed.
Still, his one tool is pretty impressive. In 24 regular season steal attempts, and 4 postseason tries he has never been thrown out. Tim Raines holds the record for most consecutive successful steal attempts to start a career at 27. If you add in Berry’s playoff output, he surpasses Raines.
Sure, Cincinnati Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton got all the attention when he stole thirteen straight bases after getting called up in September. But, the battery of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Juan Centeno nabbed him on his final attempt. Berry’s streak is twice as long and still going.
While Berry doesn’t have the volume of minor league steals that Hamilton does, their success rates are quite similar. Berry has swiped 291 bases, at an 80% success rate. Meanwhile, Hamilton has stolen 395 bags at an 82% clip.
Okay, the most stolen bases Berry had in a minor league season was 55, Hamilton stole 155 last year. Berry had reached base over 70 times in 2012 before getting his first 13 steals. Hamilton stole 13 bases within his first 16 times on the basepaths.
He’s not quite the speed weapon that Billy Hamilton is, but Quintin Berry is the next best thing. Despite receiving just 330 plate appearances in 2012, Berry had more stolen base runs than Rajai Davis, who finished second in the MLB in steals.
However, St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is a tough man to run on. Molina has gunned down 45% of would-be basestealers over the course of his career. Of course, Berry has never been caught. In the late innings of close games, this will be an interesting matchup to watch for.