Stolen bases, baseball’s lost artwork, playing pivotal role in 2021 MLB postseason


The stolen base is playing an enormous role this postseason, and I’m right here for it. 

The Eighties had been my formative baseball-watching years, an exciting period with Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, Vince Coleman and dozens of different speedsters swiping bases seemingly at will. For these sprinters in baseball uniforms, a stroll or a single was primarily a double, after which one other single was principally a assured RBI. 

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From 1973 to 1993, the MLB stolen base chief had at the very least 70 swipes yearly, with seven seasons of 100 or extra stolen bases (Henderson, Coleman and Lou Brock owned all seven). In 1980, Omar Moreno had 96 and completed third in the bigs. In 1986, Eric Davis had 80 and was third general. You get the purpose. 

But now? We haven’t seen anybody attain that 70-stole base plateau since Jacoby Ellsbury pilfered 70 in 2009, greater than a decade in the past. There had been 2,213 bases stolen by the 30 groups in the massive leagues this yr, the bottom full-season (excluding strike/pandemic years) complete since 1973, when baseball’s 24 groups mixed to swipe 2,034. 

The drop has been relatively precipitous not too long ago, too. There had been roughly 1,000 fewer stolen bases in 2021 than only a decade in the past: 3,229 in 2012 and three,279 in 2011. That’s an enormous lower. The aim right this moment isn’t to dig into the explanations, as a result of you already know them — extra groups are targeted on energy and avoiding potential outs on the bottom paths, and so on. We’re simply right here to have fun the anecdotal proof that stolen bases and aggressive base-running continues to be very related, even when underappreciated.  

During the 2021 playoffs, we’ve seen a rise in gamers taking the additional base, and that’s an excellent flip of occasions. Through 23 postseason video games, there have been 27 stolen bases, multiple per sport. And they’re essential stolen bases, too. Game-changing stolen bases. Series-deciding stolen bases.

The Braves gained Game 1 of the NLCS 3-2, and two of these runs had been the direct results of a stolen base. In the primary inning, Eddie Rosario led off with a single and stole second as Freddie Freeman struck out. He transfer to 3rd on a groundout and scored on a wild-pitch. That doesn’t occur with out the stolen base.  

The extra dramatic run got here in the ninth inning, with the sport tied 2-2. Ozzie Albies singled with one out and stole second base on Dodgers reliever Blake Treinen’s first pitch — after two pick-off makes an attempt. Austin Riley smacked Treinen’s second pitch into left subject, a base hit that simply chased house Albies for the profitable run. 

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The Dodgers had been on the quick finish of these NLCS SBs, however they had been solely in that spherical due to a key stolen base. In Game 5 of their NLDS in opposition to the Giants, Mookie Betts singled off Logan Webb — Untouchable Logan Webb — in the sixth inning and stole second on Webb’s first pitch to Corey Seager. Betts simply trotted in to attain when Seager slapped a 2-0 pitch the alternative manner in to shallow left subject and the Dodgers lastly had their first run in opposition to Webb in his 14th inning of labor in opposition to L.A. 

As we talked about, there have been 27 stolen bases thus far this postseason in 23 video games; the Dodgers cleared the path with 11. How does that examine with current October operating totals? Here’s a glance again to 2010. 

2021: 27 SB in 23 video games
2020: 38 in 53
2019: 34 in 37
2018: 35 in 33
2017: 21 in 38
2016: 41 in 35
2015: 46 in 36
2014: 30 in 32
2013: 26 in 38
2012: 35 in 37
2011: 33 in 38
2010: 41 in 32

In 2015, in fact, the Royals and their “that’s what speed do” motto set the tone for the postseason with 14 stolen bases as a group, although the Mets (10) and Blue Jays (9) ran lots, too. In the 2010 postseason, the Rangers led the way in which with 17 stolen bases, essentially the most for any group from 2010 to now. The supervisor for these Rangers was, in fact, Ron Washington

And that brings us to our secondary level right this moment. It’s not nearly stolen bases, however the philosophy behind the stolen bases: operating aggressively to realize a bonus. Washington is now the third-base coach for the Braves, and his method to sending guys house — let the speedy runners push the motion — is why Atlanta has a 2-0 benefit in the NLCS. 

In the underside of the eighth inning of Game 2, with the Dodgers main 4-2, Rosario singled because the leadoff batter. Freeman adopted with a fly-out to left subject and Rosario tagged up and slid in to second simply forward of the throw. With the Dodgers’ outfield playing shallow, Albies looped a single towards proper fielder Steven Souza Jr. Washington by no means hesitated, waving Rosario house. Souza’s throw was good, not nice, and Rosario’s slide was among the finest you’ll ever see, eluding the tag from catcher Will Smith. 

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Riley adopted Albies’ single with a double of his personal, off the wall in heart subject. Betts made an excellent play on the ball and received it again in rapidly, as Albies got here flying across the bases. A extra conservative third-base coach may need held up his runner, however Washington is just not the sort to waste a chance. Albies arrived simply earlier than the ball and scored the tying run.

“We love the aggressiveness (from Washington) because that’s how you’re going to go for scoring runs,” Albies mentioned. “If you’re playing scared you’re never going to push the guys to score the important runs for the team.”

It was one other superb show of aggressive base-running, straight out of the playbook of a bygone period. All I can say is that this: More, please. 

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