The Dodgers have not had a history of stealing bases in recent memory. Despite having a prolific base stealer as their manager in Dave Roberts, it’s just never been a part of their style of play. That sort of represents the broad change happening around Major League Baseball.
The Dodgers stole just 45 bases back in 2016, the first year of Dave Roberts’ management tenure. Howie Kendrick led the team that year with 10 bags swiped. Yes, the 32-year-old aging second baseman, Howie Kendrick.
But when the Dodgers got Mookie Betts, their game seemed to evolve. They became more aggressive on the basepaths, taking extra bases on balls on the gap and stealing bags in ideal situations. He might be part of the reason Dave Roberts expects running to be part of the team’s game moving forward.
I think that if you look at Mookie, Gavin, CT, Belli we have some opportunities. I still think that being smart on the bases and not giving away outs I still think is at the front of mind. But yeah, we have a very athletic ballclub…I don’t know if that’s something for the long-term or long part of the season, but it’s a part of our offense certainly.
The Dodgers stole 29 bases during the regular season in 2020, good for 12th in MLB. They stole 10 more in just 18 postseason games with Mookie accounting for 6 of them. His aggressive base-running style seemed to carry over to the rest of the team, pushing the envelope in high-pressure situations throughout the postseason.
The Dodgers also have the tools to have some real threats on the basepaths in 2021. Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger account for some of the best speed in all of baseball. Bellinger demonstrated that in 2019 stealing 15 bags, while CT stole 17 of his own in 2017.
The Dodgers may not attempt many stolen bases, but you can be sure they’re going to have a high success rate when they do.