With the regular season hitting the final stretch, the Los Angeles Dodgers have improved several aspects of their game — most notably on the bases.
Throughout the season, the Dodgers have remained at or near the top in several offensive statistics, including home runs and on-base percentage. Part of the club’s effort to improve their baserunning involved the hiring of former Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke as the Dodgers’ third-base coach.
Additionally, according to ESPN’s Mark Saxon, the Dodgers were presented with the numbers of their struggles on the bases:
Two things happened when the Dodgers got to Oakland for a quick two-game series Aug. 18 and 19. First, Ron Roenicke was brought in to replace Lorenzo Bundy as the third-base coach. Second, the coaches convened the players for a team meeting and showed them the metrics the front office compiled.”
Carl Crawford, one of the Dodgers’ speed threats, was surprised to learn how poor the club had been:
I didn’t realize the baserunning was that bad,” Crawford said. “That was a surprise to me, but it was a problem. I just didn’t know we were in last place with, like, every stat.”
Since the meeting Los Angeles has been much improved, which Crawford believes he and Jimmy Rollins have spearheaded:
We’re leading the way, stealing more bases. That probably made Jimmy [Rollins] want to steal more bases because he hadn’t been doing it before,” Crawford said. “I’d like to say we helped it. That’s what we’re trying to do, make guys more aggressive and run the bases better.”
Dating back to Aug. 29, the Dodgers lead the Majors with 20 stolen bases. It’s a total eight different players have contributed to, and Crawford has been in the thick of things with six stolen bases over that stretch.
Along with Crawford and Rollins, infusing the roster with Jose Peraza’s speed and Corey Seager’s youthful legs have played a role in the improvement. Moreover, while Chase Utley isn’t a player associated with speed, he’s run the bases well and led by example.
Prior to the recent uptick, the Dodgers had been successful on 31 of 59 stolen base attempts, 52.5 percent, through their first 127 games.