Antonio Briones Luna
- Bats Right, Throws Right
Antonio Briones is the all-time Mexican League stolen base leader (through 2008).
Briones debuted in 1971, hitting .220 in the Mexican Center League and .224/.250/.224 in 25 games for the Mexican League's Monterrey Industriales; the teenager stole one base for Monterrey. In 1972, he batted .338/.400/.338 in 39 games for Monterrey and was 3-for-3 in steals.
Briones joined the Indios de Ciudad Juarez in 1973 and would spend 12 years with them. He hit .271/.327/.358 with 9 triples and 11 steals (in 20 attempts). In '74, the 21-year-old batted .244/.277/.298 and swiped 15 bases in 21 tries. In 1975, Antonio improved his batting line to .279/.344/.416 and led the Mexican League in steals (42 in 60 tries) for the first time.
Briones hit .318/.369/.396 with 68 steals in 96 attempts and 93 runs in 1976. He led the Liga in steals, times caught stealing and sacrifice hits (21) and was named the All-Star second baseman. In '77, Antonio hit .268/.331/.323 with 24 stolen bases in 41 attempts.
During 1978, Briones was limited to 18 games, going 13 for 55 with six walks and one steal. Back in regular action for '79, the Juarez speedster batted .303/.345/.335 with only 9 steals in 15 attempts. Antonio batted .297/.348/.344 in the 1980 season, split into two halves by a strike; he stole 40 bases while only being thrown out 8 times. His 18 swipes in the post-strike half led the circuit.
Briones produced at a .274/.323/.313 rate in 1981 and pilfered 34 bags while being gunned down 13 times. He hit .276/.353/.303 in '82 with 60 steals in 69 tries, his 4th time leading the circuit in swipes. In 1983, the veteran infielder slumped to .227/.306/.286 and only stole 22 bases in 31 attempts.
He rebounded in 1984, his last year with the Indios, when he hit .284/.377/.319; he stole 23 bases but was thrown out running on 14 occasions. In '85, the Salaberna native moved to the Torreon Cotton Dealers and hit .239/.337/.271; he stole 50 bases to lead the league for the 5th and final time. He was also thrown out running 20 times.
In 1986, Briones batted .294/.391/.341 with 43 steals in 61 tries. He led the circuit's second baseman with a .972 fielding percentage. The next campaign, Antonio played for Tabasco and hit .272/.353/.303 with 38 steals - in 59 tries. He wound up his career in 1988 with the Leon Braves and batted .286/.344/.313 with 6 steals in 7 tries.
Overall, Briones hit .276/.341/.322. He drew 637 walks while only striking out 538 times in 6,729 AB and 1,900 games. His only major skill was his footspeed - 490 steals (in 689 tries) and 1,005 runs.
Through 2000, Antonio was tied for 19th in Mexican League history in runs (even with Juan Navarette, his contemporary and fellow second baseman), 1st in steals (77 ahead of Daniel Fernández, who would finish only 12 shy of Briones's record) and 1st in times caught stealing. The only other category he was among the all-time leaders in was sacrifice hits, where his 177 were 7th all-time.