Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Their feet are honest

Over the course of a 162-game schedule, every team suffers some galling losses. The Twins have taken their share, and particularly so since the All-Star break.

Monday's loss seemed particularly irritating because it typified so many of the roster's unsolved problems. Starting pitchers who struggle to put away hitters. Sloppy defense at shortstop. Shaky middle relief. Base stealing that verges on incompetence.

It's the latter that intrigues me this morning.  The Twins have stolen 55 bases on the season (two of them on Monday) and been caught stealing 36 times (three times on Monday), a success rate of  60.4 percent. The well-established math says anything under 67 percent is giving away runs.

Meanwhile, the Yankees -- old and slow -- have stolen 42 bases with 19 caught stealing, a 68.8 success rate. One of those steals came Monday night from Alex Rodriguez, the 40-year-old with the surgical hips, and led to a run.

Back in 1917, columnist Bugs Baer famously wrote of Ping Bodie's inability to steal: "Larceny was in his heart, but his feet were honest." That pretty much sums up Paul Molitor's Twins, who entered Monday tied for the third-most caught stealings in the American League.

I commented earlier this year on the irony of this: Molitor as a player was a particularly good percentage basestealer (504 steals for his career, 131 caught stealings for a 79.3% success rate), but, at least in his debut managerial season, his team would be better off not trying the play.

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