A need for speed

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - America loves speed. They must, because that's the only explanation I can think of as to why five "Fast and the Furious" movies were made (although, the fifth one was actually pretty good. I need to buy that on Blu-ray sometime).

But this article isn't about Vin Diesel or why the third movie in the series took place in Tokyo, which makes no sense (and why was Bow Wow in it?). Today, we're talking about major league baseball's top speed demons.

Drafts are coming up and you're going to need stolen bases. Here are the guys you should be looking at:

Elvis Andrus, Shortstop, Texas Rangers - As if it wasn't cool enough that the guy's name is Elvis. The Texas shortstop notched a career-best 37 stolen bases a year ago. This could be the year Andrus makes it to 40 steals.

Michael Bourn, Outfielder, Atlanta Braves - No, not Jason Bourne (killing it with the movie references right now), but just as good. Bourn has been a stolen base fiend since entering the league. He has swiped 50-plus bases three years in a row. He is a lock for another 50 in 2012. Somewhere, Rickey Henderson is smiling ... and referring to himself in the third person.

Coco Crisp, Outfielder, Oakland A's - You're looking at the AL leader in stolen bases (49) last season. If Crisp is healthy for the full year, he'll be harder to catch than the Gingerbread Man.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Outfielder, Boston Red Sox - You know the guy pulled over on the side of the highway with flashing lights behind him? That was Ellsbury last season. Only Juan Pierre was caught stealing more often than Ellsbury. Even with all of the speeding tickets, the Red Sox center fielder was still sneaky enough to collect 39 stolen bases in 2011. Mark him down for another 30-homer, 30-stolen base campaign.

Brett Gardner, Outfielder, New York Yankees - Gardner is like a cheetah in baseball pants. He'll be a threat to hit the half-century mark in steals this season as long as he stays away from Joba Chamberlain's trampoline (too soon?).

Dee Gordon, Shortstop, Los Angeles Dodgers - He's a human Ferrari. Gordon, who is slated to start at shortstop for Los Angeles this season, snagged 24 stolen bases in just 56 games in 2011. Multiply that out to a full 162-game season and Gordon would have stolen 69 bases last year. Is that even legal?

Matt Kemp, Outfielder, Los Angeles Dodgers - He breaks up with Rihanna and look what happens? Kemp hits 39 homers, steals 40 bases and bats .324. As Kenny Bania would say, "That's gold, Jerry!" Man, maybe I should think about breaking up with Rihanna.

Jose Reyes, Shortstop, Miami Marlins - Last season produced 12 players with 35 or more stolen bases - the first time that has happened since 2008. So if last year was a stolen base renaissance, then Reyes was Michelangelo. His 39 thefts were good for sixth in the NL. Oh yeah, and Reyes won the batting title (.337). He's a first-rounder.

Ichiro Suzuki, Outfielder, Seattle Mariners - Ichiro did his best Harry Houdini impression on the base paths last season: he stole 40 bags and was caught only seven times. Sure he's 60 years old - or so it seems - but he'll still be good for 30-35 thefts in 2012.

B.J. Upton, Outfielder, Tampa Bay Rays - The other Upton brother is like a Prius: he is fast and good for the environment. The Rays are hoping Upton (36 stolen bases in 2011) will drive Tampa Bay to its third straight playoff appearance.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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