Monday, December 23, 2013

Alex Presley and the stolen base

Alex Presley hit .283 for the Twins in September, but
he was an ineffective base stealer.
As a team, the 2013 Twins ran the bases well. They stole bases terribly.

Those assertions are supported by the baserunning stats in the 2014 Bill James Handbook.

Baseball Info Systems credits the Twins with a gain of 44 bases on baserunning. The formula, which excludes steals, encompasses extra bases on hits and fly balls and subtracts for baserunning outs. The Twins' 44 bases was third highest in the majors (behind only Tampa Bay and Oakland).

But basestealing? That was another matter. BIS has the Twins a -14 on steals. Only Arizona fared worse than Minnesota at stealing.

A fair chunk of Twins deficit is likely charged to Alex Presley, who came to the Twins from Pittsburgh in the Justin Morneau trade. Presley played center and led off pretty much every day in September, and he was 1-for-4 in steal attempts. He was 0-for-1 with the Pirates, and BIS has him as a -7 as a basestealer.

As a long-ago sportswriter quipped about a Brooklyn Dodger who similarly couldn't steal bases: There was larceny in his heart, but his feet were honest.

Were I running the Twins, I would be planning on a Presley-Darin Mastroianni platoon in center to open 2014. But I would be very wary of trying to steal bases, at least with Presley.

Presley seems to have the Greg Gagne basestealing glitch. Gagne, the Twins shortstop for their two World Series teams, was a fast man and a good baserunner, but he was simply unable to read pitchers to get the jump to steal. We frequently hear coaches assert that so-and-so will be a good basestealer when he learns to read pitchers, but it really appears to be something that can't be taught.

No comments:

Post a Comment