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Is The Stolen Base Returning as an Offensive Weapon? 

Before last season started, MLB implemented some changes that directly were related to creating more offense. One was larger bases, thus shortening the distance between the bags. Second, was the pitch clock. Third was removing the team’s ability to put the extreme shift on. Only two players were allowed on each side of second base, and the infielders’ feet had to be on the dirt and not on the grass. You might remember Miguel Rojas being tagged with violating that last season. And finally, only two disengagements by the pitcher on a pickoff play. If unsuccessful on the third try, a balk is called and the runner moves to the next base.

In 2023 there were 2486 stolen bases in the major leagues. In 2023 that number jumped to 3503. More than 900 more than the previous season. To compare this to previous seasons, the last time prior to last year that there were more than 3000 stolen bases in a season, you have to go all the way back to 2012 when 3229 bases were stolen.

Leading team that year was the Brewers with 158, and the Padres had 155. Last year the Reds stole 190 to lead the majors. Twenty-two of the thirty teams stole 100 or more. The eight who did not, White Sox, Rockies, Tigers, Angels, Twins, Giants, Rangers and the Blue Jays. No National League team with less than 100 qualified for the playoffs, Minnesota, Toronto and Texas in the AL did. With Texas winning the World Series.

The Braves had more than half of their 132 bags stolen by one player, Acuña , 73. He was the only Brave with more than 20. The most on the Reds on the other hand, were De La Cruz’s 35. A more diversified running attack. Corbin Carroll had almost 1/3rd of the D-Backs 166 with 54 bags.

The Dodgers stole 105. Their team leader was Freddie Freeman with 23. The last Dodger to lead the league in steals was Dee Gordon in 2014 with 64, Gordon would lead again in 15 while a member of the Marlins with 58. He would also win the title in 2017 with 60. Trea Turner won in 21 with 32 steals while playing for the Phillies and the Dodgers.

The stolen base was a huge part of baseball at the turn of the century in the 1900’s. It had a resurgence of sorts with the arrival of Maury Wills on the Dodgers in the early 60’s. Wills broke Cobb’s season record of 96 with 104 in 1962.

Other great stealers passed him in the 70’s. Lou Brock’s 118 in 1974. Ricky Henderson became the first AL player with 100 in 1980. He then set the MLB record with 130 in 1982. Vince Coleman went over 100 three straight seasons, 85-88. Only he and Henderson have had 100 or more for three seasons.

No player in the NL has had more than the 81 Coleman had in 88. No AL player has come close to the 93 Henderson put up in 88. The closest in either league is 78 by Marquis Grissom in the NL in 92, and 75 put up in the AL by Kenny Lofton in 1996.

So, will there be an increase in stolen bases in 24? Right now, 31 games into the season, De La Cruz of the Reds leads all of baseball with 18 bags. If he keeps on this pace, he would have 72 stolen bases by game # 122. Possibly getting to 100.

Billy Hamilton, who stole 100 or more twice in the minors, including 155 in 2012, never came close to that number in the majors.

In 33 games, the Dodgers have stolen 22 bases. With this team’s power, one can expect some increase, but not a lot. That being said, they have run more in recent days, and it serves to put runners in scoring position for the big guns in the lineup. Mookie leads the team with 8 and Shohei has 5. Freddie, who is concentrating on getting his swing back to where he wants it, has only one. Third on the team with 3 bags……..surprise, Teoscar Hernandez.

So in looking on the surface, I think the new rules, and the revisions to those rules have helped the stolen base return to prominence. Hopefully someone learns that the bunt, if used correctly, is one hell of an offensive weapon also.

 

MiLB GAME SUMMARY REPORTS

 

Salt Lake City Bees (LAA) 4 – OKC Baseball Club 0

26 year old RHP Davis Daniel went 8.1 scoreless IP on 4 four hits.  José Marte got the two batters he faced to complete the shutout.

The Bees scored 4 runs off Eduardo Salazar in 5.1 IP.  Tanner Dodson and Braydon Fisher completed the final 3.2 IP without allowing a run on one hit and two BB.

Drew Avans went 2-4 with 2 singles.  Andre Lipcius and Jonathan Araúz supplied the other singles.

 

Box Score

 

 

Springfield Cardinals 9 – Tulsa Drillers 4

Orlando Ortiz-Mayr got spanked in his 2.0 IP.  He gave up 6 runs on 5 hits, including 2 HRs, and 4 walks.

Ronan Kopp retired the side in order in his first two innings, but the third was not so kind.  Single, BB, single, and single.  1 run in, and leaves with the bases loaded for Ryan Sublette.  Ryan gave up a single and sac fly, and two of the inherited runners scored.

The Drillers were shut out on one hit in the first 5 innings.  In the 6th, José Ramos led off with a single.  With one out, Yeiner Fernandez was HBP, and Austin Beck singled home Ramos for the Drillers 1st run.  In the 7th, Brandon Lewis and Austin Gauthier led off with singles, and Dalton Rushing slugged a 3-run HR.  José Ramos followed the HR with a double.  He moved to 3rd on a WP with 1 out, but was left there, and the game was over.

  • José Ramos – 2-4, 1 run, double (4)
  • Austin Beck – 2-3, 1 RBI, double (4)
  • Austin Gauthier – 1-1, 3 BB, 1 run
  • Dalton Rushing – 1-4, 3 RBI, HR (3)

 

Box Score

 

Springfield Cardinals 7 – Tulsa Drillers 4

Kendall Williams continued his slide as he allowed 6 runs (3 earned) on 7 hits and 1 BB in 3.0 innings.  Springfield got 3 in the 1st and had a 4-0 lead.  Tulsa got 3 of them back in the bottom half of the first.  Gauthier and Ramos both singled and scored ahead of Brandon Davis’s 3-run HR.

In the 2nd, Austin Gauthier homered to tie the score.

Williams gave up 2 more in the third.  Two singles and a ground out moved them to 2nd and 3rd.  A single plated both runners, and gave the Cardinals a 6-4 lead.

In the 7th, Jack Little gave up a lead off single. The runner stole second, and scored on the second single in the inning.  Ben Harris relieved Little with a runner on 1st.  He got the next two batters out to get out of the inning.

The Drillers went out meekly in the bottom of the 7th,

Springfield beat the Drillers in both games of the doubleheader.

  • Austin Gauthier – 2-4, 2 runs, 1 Rbi, HR (4)
  • Yeiner Fernandez – 2-3, 2 doubles (6)
  • Brendon Davis – 1-2, 3 RBI, HR (2)

 

Box Score

 

Great Lakes Loons 7 – Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 3

Maddux Bruns started and pitched his best game in a long time.  In 3.0 scoreless innings, he threw 47 pitches.  He allowed 1 hit (double), 1 BB, and a HBP.  Yes, just 1 BB.  He also struck out 6 Ks.  Excellent start for Bruns.

The Loons got 2 in the 1st on an Alex Freeland BB, and a Kyle Nevin HR.

The next ten Loons went down in order.  Thayron Liranzo opened the 5th with a BB, and back to back singles loaded the bases.  Jake Vogel brought home 1 runner with a sac fly. Another BB loaded the bases and a force out ground ball scored the 2nd runner in the inning.

In the 6th with 2 outs, Liranzo drew another BB.  Sam Mongelli doubled with Liranzo scoring.  Mongelli stole 3B  and Nelson Quiroz.  Vogel was HBP to load the bases.  Alex Freeland singled to score Mongelli, and Great Lakes had a 6-0 lead.

Michael Martinez (1.0), and Christian Romero (3.0) shutout the Rattlers over the next 4.0 innings.

In the 8th, Romero gave up a pair of singles, with the first runner getting to 3rd.  He scored on a DP.  Romero got the final out in the inning.

In the 9th, Jonathan walked all three batters he faced.  He threw 3 strikes in 15 pitches and was pulled for Kelvin Ramirez.  Ramirez allowed the 1st run on a sac fly, and a single brought home the second and final run in the 9th.

  • Kyle Nevin – 2-5, 1 run, 2 RBI, double (6), HR (2)
  • Sam Mongelli – 2-5, 2 runs, 1 RBI, double (3)
  • Nelson Quiroz, 2-3, 1 BB
  • Alex Freeland – 1-3, 2 BB, 1 run, 1 RBI

 

Box Score

 

 

Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 11 – Modesto Nuts (Seattle) 3

The Quakes jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the 1st without hitting a ball out of the infield.  Kendall George led off the inning with a bunt single and promptly stole 2nd.  Jeral Perez walked, and George and Perez pulled off a double steal.  Jake Gelof walked to load the bases.  Two wild pitches bring home 2 runs.

Jefferson Valladares and Carlos Rojas opened the 2nd innings with singles.  Wilman Diaz reached on a fielders choice force out.  He stole 2nd with one out.  Valladares scored on a balk with Diaz moving to 3rd.  Diaz scored when he beat the ground ball throw to the plate.

Edgardo Henriquez pitched a scoreless 1st two innings, striking out the side in the 2nd.  But he tried to stretch it into the third inning.  He gave up a lead off single and two wild pitches later, the runner is on 3rd.  He struck out the next batter, but allowed a run scoring double.  Edgardo was lifted for Jose Rodriguez.  A WP and double plated the 2nd run.

Henriquez struck out 6 in his 2.1 IP.

The Quakes added three more in the 5th.  Sean McLain opened with a triple.  With one out, Valladares drew a BB.  Carlos Rojas doubled home both runners.  Wilman Diaz drew a walk and Kendall George singled to load the bases.  Jake Gelof singled home Rojas for the 3rd run of the inning.

In the 7th, Carlos Rojas drew a leadoff BB.   Diaz reached on a fielder’s choice with Rojas going to 2nd.  George drew a BB to load the bases.  Rojas scores on a balk.  Perez drew a BB to reload the bases. Gelof hits a sac fly to score Diaz with George moving up to 3rd.  Josue De Paula doubled to score George and Perez moved to 3rd.  Sean McLain walked to reload the bases again.  Samuel Muñoz walked to forcé in a run.

Jose Rodriguez seemed to run out of gas entering his 4th inning of work.  A single, double, and one out single and Rodriguez was relieved by David Tiburcio inheriting a runner at 1st.  Back to back balks and the runner moved to 3rd with one out.  The inherited runner scores on a ground out.  Tiburcio walks the next batter.  He scored on a three base throwing error.  The runner on 3rd scored on another single.  Tiburcio got the final out of the 7th inning.

Tiburcio continued to get hit in the 8th. Three singles and an error scores two.  Joseilyn Gonzalez relieved Tiburcio with runners on 1st and 2nd.  He got a K but then walked a hitter to load the bases, and walked a 2nd hitter to force in a run.  The next batter reached on catcher’s interference to force in the tying run.  RC was up 11-2 going into the bottom of the 7th, and Modesto scored 9 runs in the 7th and 8th to tie the score.

In the bottom of the 9th, Gonzalez got the first two batters, but then walked the winning run on four pitches.  He then induced an inning ending ground out.

The Quakes could not advance the free runner in the 10th,  In the bottom of the 10th,  Jorge Gonzalez came in to relieve.  The first batter he faced hit the walk off single, and the Nuts came all the way back after being down 11-2 going into the bottom of the 7th.

This was the 2nd game in the series that Modesto came back from a large deficit to win the game in the late innings.

  • Kendall George – 3-5, 1 BB, 2 runs, 1 RBI
  • Jefferson Valladares – 2-4, 1 BB, 2 runs
  • Carlos Rojas – 2-4, 1 BB, 2 runs, 2 RBI, double (2)
  • Sean McLain triple (1) and Josue De Paula double (7)

 

Box Score

 

 

 

 

 

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Oldbear48

Exciting game last night. Pages looks like he is here to stay. Not as dynamic as Puig was, but a lot more coachable and the kid does not get rattled. Great start by Stone. Only mistake was the homer by Riley. Hudson has given up runs in five straight games. He is also tied with Glasnow for the team lead in homers allowed with four. Padres made a trade with the Marlins getting Luis Arraez. They traded three minor leaguers and reliever Woo-Suk Go for the infielder. Arraez has won two batting titles and is hitting .299 for the Marlins. He will move around the infield, but also will get some reps as the Padres DH. Not a power threat, but a very good bat to ball type hitter.

Duke Not Snider

Surprising trade, but it may work for the Pads. Is there anyone on the Marlins that might intrigue the Dodgers? Perhaps lefty RP Tanner Scott could be had for a few prospects. He’d be an upgrade over Vesia.
Great to see both Stone and Pages deliver big games. Last season, it was Outman and Bobby Miller who broke through..

And while Pages may be here to stay, perhaps Mookie is too, at SS.

Jeff Dominique

I was thinking the same thing about Puig. I then went back and looked at his 2013 numbers. He was still hitting north of .400 through his 34th game (145 PA), 8 HR. And he had an OPS north of 1.000 through his game #65, 280 PA, 11 HR. But Puig’s BAbip was .490 at Game 34 and still .455 at Game 65. Pages’ BAbip is .370. But you are spot on with Pages being more coachable.

Duke Not Snider

Pages’ first few weeks is not far off Outman’s first few weeks.
And then Outman went into a slump. I assume that Pages will face some struggles too–but I think the perception of Pages’ “upside” has always been higher. Outman’s success defied modest expectations.
As for the stolen base, the new rules certainly have made it easier. Even the slightly bigger base has an impact if you think about how often difference between “safe” and “out” is an inch.
The Dodgers are a much faster team with Shohei replacing JD Martinez and Teoscar replacing Peralta. But of course it’s Mookie who surprisingly is on a pace to steal 40.
Maybe he just realizes how much easier it is since the pitchers can’t hold him on as easily. And maybe it’s part of his MVP campaign, since steals maybe gave Acuna the edge in ’23. Whatever the reason–maybe good baseball strategy!–it’s fun to see.

Dionysus

Dodgers are idiots if they send Pages down.

porpoiseboy

I know Hudson has given up some runs, but I think that homer last night was all Acuna. He just went up and got that ball. It’s not like it was a true mistake and he threw it middle middle.

Jeff

Great game to watch. Stone is arriving. Pages has definitely arrived. Good to see the kid have the ability to play at this level.

The stolen base was a missing factor for quite a long time on this team until Trae Turner got here. He seemed to inspire both Mookie and Fredddie, and now with Shohei joining the fray, it’s really getting to be fun with those guys on the bases.

Bumsrap

I lean toward a player who changes the game to get more consideration for HOF votes. Wills brought back the stolen base and changed the game or at least took the stolen base out of the “Dead Steal” era.

The Padres seem to be building a team that mixes contact hitters with sluggers. I like the concept. Too many big swingers and too few hitters with low wrisp averages might not be built for late inning close games or the playoffs.

Outman and Lux finally get back into the lineup and they get pinched hit for after two at bats. I don’t participate in Roberts bashing but he does drive me crazy when he does that. Maybe it bothers me more because I want Outman and Lux to be regulars and not platooned and I don’t want them pinch hit for before the 8th inning at the earliest regardless of situation.

I am okay with Davis, James, and Russell leaving the Lakers.

Last edited 13 days ago by Bumsrap
Sam Oyed

Both Lux and Outman have struggled and neither are hitting well against LHP. That said, the Dodgers had a lead and Outman is a better centerfielder than Pages. While Rojas might be better at second then Lux, Lux is holding is own. So i was equally annoyed by the switches at that time. What made it worse is neither pinch hitter got on base.

it’s probably selective memory but it seems most of time Roberts makes such a switch the pinch hitter makes an out.

Phil Jones

Very fun game to watch with a bit of a playoff flavor in the house. It’s nice to win an extra innings contest.
*Charlie Morton has been a big league pitcher for 17 years. So I practically fell out of my chair when he threw that fastball to Teo, which he hit out. Flashback to Dennis Eckersley throwing the only pitch that could speed up Kirk Gibson’s bat in a critical moment. (Yeah, I know the story of Gibby knowing Eck always threw 3-2 sliders) 
But why would you throw a fastball to Teo on 2&2 when he’s looked miserable on breaking balls away? He’d swung at the rosin bag on breaking balls. It’s a mysterious game.
*Orel reported that Stone has made major strides to his tool kit by adding a couple of pitches and being the athlete he is, he pick them up quickly.  
Isn’t that exactly what the Dodgers pride themselves on; player development? With the effective use of all the cool toys like Edgetronics, Rapsodo, Statcast and others, pitching has changed tremendously. Pitch shaping and analysis of effective pitches brings Darwinism to baseball. The strong pitches survive and the weak and ineffective pitches go to the scrap heap.
*Despite the proliferation of guys that throw 97+, the 4-seam fastball may be going away.  
While the stolen base is becoming more popular for all the reasons Bear mentioned in his well researched piece, there are fewer fastballs, thrown harder. Four-seamers and sinkers are being thrown just 46.7% of the time, another new all-time low, and down from a pitch-tracking-era peak of 58.4% in 2009.
So I’ve had to rethink how I view pitching in MLB. In my day and coaching for years, I was a proponent of establishing the 4-seam fastball away and everything worked off that. You had to be able to throw that pitch in your sleep. I still see value to that in high school age pitchers but It appears those days I’m MLB are gone. What seemed to work before has been turned upside down by the technology developed in the last few years. It’s a different game as we all know.

Badger

It’s good to see running back in the game. Yes, rules do make it easier, and how a team is built makes it more, or less, of an option. Our team is built to slug so it won’t be among team leaders in that stat but there is speed on this team. We score a lot of runs the new fashioned way. We don’t need to steal anything.

I was raised on high and tight low and away and change of pace Phil. Those three worked for me until I stopped pitching after Colt League. And all those toys you mentioned haven’t helped much with injuries. That will be the next puzzle to solve – how to throw your arm off without injuring it.

Last edited 13 days ago by Badger
Jeff Dominique

I understand why SDP made the trade for Luis Arreaz. Machado is probably about to move over to 3B, and there is nobody on the bench who can be a DH. The Padres team is not hitting enough to just get by. Profar is the only batter >.300. Only two batters are north of .800 OPS, Profar (.934) and Cronenworth (.869). And only two more north of .700, Tatis (.788) and Machado (.709). AJ Preller saw a need and went for it. He did not wait until July 31. It cost him (Padres) 3 OF prospects. Dillon Head – 19 year old low A (was Padres #6, is Marlins #5), Jakob Marsee – 22 year old AA (was Padres #9, is Marlins #10). Nathan Martorella – 23 year old AA (was Padres #13, Marlins #11). Plus RHRP Woo-Suk Go.

The Dodgers did not need Arreaz. But could they use a lock down high leverage late inning reliever? Say like Mason Miller? 25 years old. That would make him the youngest person in the bullpen. The Dodgers could use the arm and the youth. He probably is a TJ in waiting, but probably not this year.  

Singing the Blue

Miller has 6 years of control remaining (including this year) so even if he would miss a year because of TJ surgery, you’d still have 5 years with him. That makes him VERY expensive, trade wise.

On the other hand, if I’m the A’s I absolutely see what I can get for him at the deadline this year. They aren’t going to be a playoff team anytime soon so why not use him to get two or three really good prospects who are near MLB ready and are starting pitchers or position players rather than a bullpen guy.

Orioles, Cubs, Brewers, Tigers, Padres all have strong farm systems. Only question is how much they value and/or need an All Star closer this July (or sooner if it’s Preller). O’s are really a prime candidate but may well use their prospects to get a starter or two.

Jeff Dominique

I am of the opinion that the A’s may be looking for players 2 years from MLB. They cannot win this year, and undoubtedly not next year. But if they can accumulate players who will be ready in 2 years and then have 6 years control, I think that makes more sense for the A’s. Very similar strategy as the Marlins with Arreaz.

Duke Not Snider

Every young pitcher these days–and some not so young–is looking at TJ surgery at some point. And most players come back fine. Clearly the prospect of TJ surgery doesn’t make AF nervous.
Is Mason Miller for real? So far he looks the part. Do the Dodgers need him? No. Would it be nice to have a closer like that matching up with guys like Soto and Judge in October? Absolutely. More than most players, Miller would be targeted for those crucial moments.
Could be wrong, but since Miller played last year, I think there are 5 years of control left on his contract.
I doubt the A’s would offer enough $$$ to keep him from arbitration, and at some point they will decide to deal him to get 3 or 4 prospects who would be paid, at best, the major league minimum.
The Dodgers made big deals to acquire marquee players like Mookie, Freddie, Shohei, Glasnow and Yamamoto. I assume they are pondering Mason Miller.

Oldbear48

Trea Turner just landed on the 10-day IL with a strained hamstring. But sources say he will be out at least 4-6 weeks. Patrick Bailey of the Giants placed on the 7-day concussion IL.

Bluto

I don’t watch nearly all the games, but I really like Lux’ (Lux’s?) swings and approach. I’d imagine this is a postive sign.

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