Texas Rangers: Bubba Thompson off to a fast start (literally!)
Bubba Thompson is fast–really fast! Just two games into his big-league career, the 2017 first round selection of the Texas Rangers is making an impact with his legs. This should come as no surprise, because in 80 games for AAA Round Rock this season, he swiped 49 bags while only being caught three times.
In his major league debut, on Thursday at home against the Chicago White Sox, the 24-year-old picked up his first major league hit on a bunt back to the pitcher in the bottom half of the 7th inning. The bunt wasn’t a great one, but he was able to fly down the line in 3.62 seconds beating the (late in covering) second baseman Josh Harrison to the bag.
The scamper down the line ranked as the fifth fastest by any major leaguer all season. Making the sprint even more notable is the fact that Thompson bats and throws right-handed, and thus, was coming out of the right side of the batter’s box having to travel slightly further to first than his left-handed counterparts.
Everyone knows that Texas Rangers outfielder Bubba Thompson is going to run, but he gets steals anyway
In Friday’s home game, also against the White Sox, Thompson got to flash his speed even more. In the bottom half of the 2nd, the left fielder was able to get a base hit up the middle off AL Cy Young contender Dylan Cease. With the kind of wheels that Thompson has, all eyes were on the baserunner. Bubba drew two pickoff moves by Cease and a throw behind him from Sox catcher Seby Zavala. Despite the extra attention, when the stolen base was ultimately attempted, he got there easily. After reaching second base, Cease faked a move to second to try and keep Thompson close to the bag.
Later in the 6th inning, while patrolling left field, Thompson got a great jump on a ball in front of him and made a sliding catch. Globe Life Field has some serious ground to cover in the outfield, but with the likes of Bubba in left and Leody Taveras in center, it seems to play a bit smaller.
Facing reliever Joe Kelly in the 7th inning, Thompson hit a ground ball to second baseman Harrison. The ball had some decent pace on it, but it was evident that Harrison was charging hard toward the ball in an attempt to throw out the quick footed Thompson. The result was a booted ball, E4, and Bubba was again standing on first base. Two more pickoff moves by Kelly, and on 3-1 to Brad Miller, Thompson was off to the races.
Yet again, he made it to second base in plenty of time to get the steal. Unfortunately, he was stranded there, but Rangers fans can’t help but be excited of the prospects of Thompson being able to get himself into scoring position all on his own.
Two games into an MLB career are probably too soon to start talking about franchise records, but in Thompson’s case, it is worth mentioning. The franchise record for stolen bases in a season is 52, held by Bump Wills in 1978. Elvis Andrus holds the franchise record for most stolen bases in a career with 305. Bubba has two in his first two games.
Thompson can hit and play defense too, but so far it is clear that his sheer speed is going to constantly put pressure on opposing teams. If he can remain on track, there is little doubt that the clubs stolen base records will someday be his.