Tony Campana's blazing speed has endeared him to Cubs fans over the past year or so. He didn't get a chance to showcase his best asset in the majors to start the season, but once Marlon Byrd was traded a month into the season, "Campy" got his chance.
And he's taken that opportunity and run with it. Quite literally, in fact.
Campana stole three bases in Tuesday night's win over the Tigers and now has 21, which led MLB entering play Wednesday:
1. Tony Campana, CHC -- 21
2. Emilio Bonifacio, MIA -- 20
3. Dee Gordon, LAD -- 20
4. Michael Bourn, ATL -- 17
5. Starlin Castro, CHC -- 16
6. Jose Reyes, MIA -- 16
If things stay that way, which is unlikely, but possible, Campana would be the first Cubs player to lead the NL in stolen bases since Stan Hack tied the Pirates' Lee Handley with just 17 in 1939 (ht to CSN stat guru Chris Kamka for the info).
No Cub has led the Majors in SBs since Kiki Cuyler swiped 37 bags in 1930.
Entering play Wednesday, Campana is on pace for 56 steals while Castro is on pace for 42.
According to research done by Kamka, only three Cubs duos have each had 40 steals in a season since 1900:
-- 1985: Ryne Sandberg (54) & Davey Lopes (47)
-- 1906: Frank Chance (57) & Johnny Evers (49)
-- 1904: Frank Chance (42) & Joe Tinker (41)
That's all amazing considering Campana didn't even get an at-bat in the big leagues until April 21 and is not an everyday player. In fact, he's only on pace for 308 at-bats.
If he stays in the big leagues, the 26-year-old speedster doesn't have guaranteed playing time the rest of the year, as top prospect Brett Jackson is waiting in the wings. On top of that, slugger Bryan LaHair may move to the outfield if Anthony Rizzo gets the call-up.
Of course, veterans like David DeJesus, Alfonso Soriano and Reed Johnson would all have value to a contender before the trade deadline, which would open up more playing time. However, the same could be said for Campana. What contender wouldn't want a guy with that kind of speed covering ground in the outfield or coming in as a pinch-runnerspot starter during a pennant chase?