Juan Pierre is too old and bad at getting on base to steal this many bases. But he's doing it anyway.
On a Miami team that’s going to stand out on leaderboards for all the wrong reasons, Juan Pierre finished the weekend with 11 stolen bases, one ahead of Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte for the NL lead. The story of a 35-year-old with a .280 on-base percentage who might lead the league in steals isn’t bringing fans to the ballpark, but it is one of the most interesting stories on a Marlins team without many of them.
It’s been 12 years and six address changes since Pierre won his first stolen base crown. He was then a member of the Rockies, a team on which you wouldn’t expect to find a top basestealer, given the ease of hitting home runs in pre-humidor Coors.
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The 2013 Tigers will be heavy, slow, and probably bad at baserunning. How much will it hurt them?
We’re not great at holding a lot of small details in our brain for a long period of time, so we summarize and categorize, often remembering only the nut graph of a story rather than the specifics. I think we do this for baseball teams, too, and I’m sure I do it for baseball teams. I know a little bit about every Tiger, but when I think about the Tigers I mainly think along the lines of these bigger, summarizing narratives:
Is it worth paying certain pitchers more for what they do when they're not on the mound?
I was talking to a friend the other day who pointed out that, had Johnny Cueto not been knocked out in the first game, and had not Mike Leake been the Reds' uninspiring only option to replace him, the Giants probably wouldn’t have won the NLDS or, consequently, the World Series. That seems reasonable:
The National League East could come down to baserunning. The Nationals have the edge in the standings, but the Braves' baserunners have kept it close.
On Wednesday night, the Braves shut down the Padres behind another strong start by deadline trade target Paul Maholm. Thanks to a 27-13 run since the start of July, Atlanta’s record stands a season-high 18 games over .500. However, while the Braves have nipped at the first-place Nationals’ heels—at times this month, only two games have separated the NL East’s top teams—they haven’t been able to close the gap completely. The Nats, who won their own game Wednesday on the strength of six precious innings from Stephen Strasburg’s dwindling supply, have matched them win for win.
However, while the Nationals own the NL’s best record, they haven’t yet locked up a division title. Washington won’t have Strasburg on its side for much longer, and the Braves will be right behind them, waiting to capitalize on any sign of weakness. Both teams boast playoff odds north of 90 percent, so neither is likely to miss the postseason (though after the way things went for the Braves last September, they probably aren’t taking a trip to October for granted). But the real prize—a first-place finish, and a guaranteed ticket to the first round of the playoffs—remains at stake. The Nats have the better pitching staff and defense, and both teams are evenly matched on offense. But the Braves do have a sizeable advantage over the Nats in one often-overlooked area: baserunning.
Max crunches the numbers and comes up with the top 10 catchers of the 2012 season based on overall value both at and behind the plate.
The season has reached its midpoint, so this seems like a good time to take a look at some rankings. I debuted here at Baseball Prospectus with a series on evaluating catchers defense, so catchers are the subject of the top-10 list that follows.
The catchers will be listed with four numbers beside their names. The first three cover batting, baserunning, and defense. The fourth is the sum of the numbers pertaining to each of those areas.
Out West, the Angels' inability to take advantage of situations on the basepaths could cost them a division title.
Last season, there were two divisions (the NL West, from which the reigning world champion Giants arose, and the AL East) that were decided by a margin of three games or fewer. In 2009, there were two more division races (the AL Central, which the Twins captured by a single game, and again the NL West) that came down to a swing of three or fewer games. 2008? Three races. 2007? Four races. Over the last four years, every division in baseball has been able to boast at least one pennant race resolved within the final three days of the season—well, every division except the AL West.
Throughout the better part of the early- to mid-aughts, the AL West stood proud and tall as one of the more hotly-contested divisions in the game; four of the five division titles between 2002-06 were secured by a margin of no more than four games. But over the last four seasons, the average margin of victory in the AL West has been a far less suspenseful 11.5 games. That’s great for the conquering team but not so great for those fans of AL West teams who enjoy an ample dose of divisional parity, and definitely not so great for the distant second-place team whose late-season gate receipts are inhibited by their non-contender status.
Talking KC's fleet feet with Ned Yost, plus Hosmermalia with AGM Dean Taylor and the man himself.
NEW YORK—The Kansas City Royals have an identity. It's an emerging one, of course, and it is sure to change as talent from its rich farm system begins to trickle into their big league clubhouse. But the Royals have established that they at least have the makings of a calling card, something for which they are known, something other than losing.
Really, when was the last time they could say that?
Is Ron Roenicke running the Brewers out of ballgames?
At times, you're going to say, 'Why are you running so much? Why are you getting thrown out trying to take extra bases?' It's going to happen, but that's the style I like to play. I've seen it win a lot of ballgames over the years. We're going to be aggressive from third base scoring, we're going to be aggressive from first to third and, at times, we're going to get thrown out. But over the course of the season, I guarantee we will score a lot more runs being aggressive."—Brewers manager Ron Roenicke in his introductory press conference, November 4, 2010
Ron Roenicke’s baserunning philosophy has been a matter of public record since day one of his managerial regime, when he essentially introduced himself to the city of Milwaukee with the above quote. In the lead-up to the season, it was practically impossible to find an article about Roenicke and the Brewers that did not mention Roenicke's aggressive style of play. As a storyline in Brewers circles, it has been a go-to choice for months now. However, as a policy, it hasn't proven popular.
The Rangers' work on the basepaths, led by leadoff hitter Elvis Andrus, has been a big reason for their post-season success.
If you've been watching this year's post-season games, you're no doubt aware of the role that the Rangers' aggressive baserunning played in their reaching the World Series. They've stolen 15 bases in 17 attempts thus far in the playoffs, and their so-called "antler plays"—in which their runners take an extra base on a hit, an out, or a ball skipping away from the catcher—were a key reason why they got past both the Rays and the Yankees. Particularly so in the final game of the Division Series, where their first three runs against the Rays owed to such baserunning, as Elvis Andrus scored from second on a ground out, Nelson Cruz scored on a throwing error after stealing third (admittedly, after initially dogging it to second base on a hit he thought was a homer), and Vlad Guerrero scored from second on a force out.