Monday, April 27, 2015

The Twins and stolen base attempts

Robinson Cano applies the tag as Eduardo Nunez is
caught trying to steal second base Sunday.
Paul Molitor, as a player, was an efficient and prolific base stealer -- 504 career steals, 131 caught stealings, a success rate of 79.3 percent.

Eighteen games into his managerial career, Molitor hasn't translated his expertise in that aspect to his team. When Eduardo Nunez was gunned down in the third inning Sunday, it was the sixth caught stealing of the season for the Twins with only five successful steals. Since the sabermetric consensus is that you need a success rate above 66 percent to get any gain from basestealing, the Twins would theoretically be better off if they didn't steal at all.

I shy from such tactical absolutes, but it should be obvious that the steal has not been an effective weapon for the Twins. Eleven attempts is rather low -- Ron Gardenhire's teams had a season low of 85 in 13 years, and the 2015 Twins at their April pace won't come close to that many -- and the success rate is abysmal.

So what's wrong? Well, the scarcity of attempts starts with the lack of opportunities. All managers recognize that they have players who should try to steal and players who shouldn't, and the question that divides them is which goes in which group. I think it safe to say on the 2015 Twins that Danny Santana, Jordan Schafer and Brian Dozier are in the "send-em" group and Kennys Vargas, Kurt Suzuki and Trevor Plouffe are in the "hold 'em" group. Even if the latter were reaching base, they wouldn't be stealing anyway.

Well, Santana has an on-base percentage of .222, Schafer .154, Dozier .300. They simply aren't on base enough to do much running

Those three as also a combined 3-for-6 on steals, so even when they have reached, they haven't done well.

It should be mentioned that a third of the games have come against Kansas City and Salvador Perez, and Perez is viewed as the best throwing catcher in the American League. That's probably depressed the attempts too.

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