I’m like you. After an 8-10 start, I am sitting here looking for answers. What can the Dodgers do better, aside from the obvious? Is there anything that could provide a spark besides a lineup shuffle, or a trade? There is one area that I believe the Dodgers could improve immediately – and it’s by running the bases more aggressively. The Dodgers as a team don’t steal bases, and I believe in times like this – being aggressive and pressuring the opposition takes a greater importance. As of April 20th, the Dodgers have stolen four bases, and attempted seven total. This is the second lowest amount of stolen base attempts in baseball, behind the Miami Marlins and Chicago Cubs.
I have always been a firm believer that a mistake is only half a mistake on a baseball field if you’re playing aggressive baseball. The Dodgers lack of stolen base attempts seems to be something of an organizational philosophy. The stolen base as a whole in baseball has become a lost art in recent years. The Dodgers are at the far-end of one spectrum. They seem entirely content to try to parlay base-runners into more hitting opportunities. There is an unwillingness to risk an out by attempting to steal a base.
The team who defeated the Dodgers on Friday night – the Washington Nationals – lead baseball with 23 stolen bases and have been thrown out five times. I sat there as the Dodgers trailed by two runs, and then by three. By the time their deficit swelled to four I was willing to see Dave Roberts try something new. Cody Bellinger drew a walk from Max Scherzer. We have heard of Bellinger’s speed and athleticism. He’s believed to be a guy who can steal 10 to 15 bases in a season. I waited for a pleasant surprise, or something that would breathe some semblance of momentum into a stagnant team. Bellinger didn’t attempt to steal a base, and Scherzer got out of the inning clean.
I think the Dodgers have the personnel to attempt more stolen bases. It doesn’t feel like they have a lot to lose by experimenting with aggressive baseball. Am I in the wrong?
Who Could Run More Often?
In 2017, the Dodgers didn’t set the base paths on fire by any means. Still, they had three players in double digit steals: Chris Taylor (17), Yasiel Puig (15), and Bellinger (10). Justin Turner had seven steals in eight attempts. Chase Utley is a smart baserunner whose instincts replace his loss of speed, and he added six. The team stole 77 bases in total, and they were caught-stealing 28 times.
Other than the guys mentioned above proving they have the ability to run, Kike Hernandez, Corey Seager, Austin Barnes, and Joc Pederson appear to be athletic enough to attempt a few.
If Andrew Toles is added to the roster, he could be a candidate who could approach double-digits in the statistic.
How Stolen Bases Could Impact the Current Team Positively
For the opposition to just to have the seed planted in their minds that the Dodger on first base might run, hitters will see more fastballs. If the Dodgers can be successful at a clip similar to last season, you’re going to see more people in scoring position. It should obviously result in more offensive production. Aggressive baseball breeds confidence. Confidence breeds winning.
I would gain an immense amount of respect for Dave Roberts at this juncture to see him go out the day after a loss and send give guys on the move. If all five guys get thrown out, so be it. You went down firing the best bullet – and losing aggressively. Win or lose, there is a potential for positive gains simply by trying to put pressure on the other team.
Don’t Expect To See It, Even If You Want To
This is probably wishful thinking. This is frustration, and wanting to get to Dave Roberts’ ear; and saying ‘please try something’. Organizations aren’t going to fundamentally change their philosophy or approach to playing the game due to a slow start. This is not something that will happen overnight, regardless of how bad some of us would like to see it.
But perhaps the answer for a little better play is right under the Dodgers’ nose. Or standing over at first base, waiting for the two-run homer or ball in the gap. For now, we are going to likely settle for what the current version of the Dodgers are. We will wait for them to string together more hits, or better pitching, or a combination of both.
The Dodgers are on a current pace for 63 stolen base attempts. I would just like to see a bit more aggressiveness – especially when the team is struggling to get momentum going against their opponents.
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