Saturday, September 7, 2013

Alex Presley and the stolen base

Alex Presley has been a fixture in center field since
joining the Twins in the Justin Morneau trade.
Alex Presley went 1-for-5 Friday night, which lowered his batting average with the Twins to .348. OK, it's just 23 official at-bats, and if he were really that good he would have forced his way into the Pirates lineup years ago, but his minor league numbers suggest that he might be a reasonable major league leadoff hitter.

This is the optimistic case for Presley: He gets on base, or at least he has in the high minors. (His on-base percentages in A ball are markedly lower than in Double A or Triple A). He doesn't have the power one wants from a corner outfielder, and he's been stuck behind Andrew McCutcheon for the Pirates center field job, and (again, the optimistic case) that's why he is 28 and hasn't cracked a regular lineup.

Optimism aside, Presley is viewed more as a reserve outfielder than as a possible quality regular. We saw an example Friday of why he's not destined to be a quality leadoff hitter.

Presley was on first base with one out in the ninth inning with Ryan Doumit pinch-hitting and the Twins down a run. When the count went to 3-2, Ron Gardenhire had Presley go. Doumit struck out, and Presley was thrown out easily.

Thrown out, it should be noted, by J.P. Arencibia, who came into the game, according to Baseball Reference, having thrown out just 24 percent of base stealers. Of the 17 qualifying catchers, Arencibia ranked 14th in throwing out base stealers.

Presley is 0-for-3 as a base stealer since joining the Twins. He was 0-for-1 with Pittsburgh. His minor league track record as a base stealer is unimpressive.

Some players are fast but simply can't get the jumps needed to steal bases effectively. Presley appears to be one such.

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