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The Dodgers Are Stealing Bases and Wins With Their Small Ball Approach

Dodgers
Aug 1, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger (35) steals second base as Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Jonathan Schoop (5) is unable to make a catch during the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

It’s strange to think that a team led by Dave Roberts would not be keen to swipe a bag every now and again. And yet, that is where the Dodgers have found themselves the past few years. A manager who once stole 49 bases in a single season leads a team that has ranked near the bottom in bags stolen. But over the course of the past couple of months, there has been a change in approach.

The Dodgers were ranked almost dead last in stolen bases entering the month of August. Since then, they have swiped 24 bases and moved all the way up to 17th in the majors on the year. Still far from where they are capable of being, but a huge move nonetheless. Especially when you consider how much of a power hitting team they are.

Los Angeles leads the National League in homeruns with 174 on the year. The only other team they trail is the Yankees, who have crushed 202 collectively as of Monday morning. The Dodgers are also number one in the NL in extra base hits as well. So when you consider all that, it’s much easier to see why they have not had to play small ball.

Yet, they are finding the perfect time to do just that. They are walking more than any other team in the NL and taking advantage of free base runners, and are doing it efficiently too. They have successfully swiped 92% of all bases, being caught only twice in 26 attempts.

So who is getting it done?

It might come as no surprise, but Cody Bellinger has been one of the best base stealers on the roster in 2018. He has stolen ten bases on the year, including five in the month of August. Yes, that is correct. He has stolen five in just 17 games played in August. Of course, part of that can be attributed to his hot month of August, where he is slashing 431/507/621.

Yasiel Puig is the stolen base leader for the team, even if his aggressive base running gets the team in a bit of trouble on occasion. Puig has swiped four bases this month and eleven on the year.

Chris Taylor has always been a threat on the base paths, despite being thrown out more times this year than ever before. He has stolen six bags in 2018 and five have come in the month of August.

Analysis

The Dodgers lead the National League in fewest at-bats per home run at just 24.5. They’ve been a monster of a homerun team all year long. And lately, they’re showing teams that they are more than that. If they can match small ball and situational hitting with power, that is a VERY dangerous team. I sure would not want to face them come October.

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Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

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