The Pittsburgh Pirates stole three bases in their much needed 7-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night. The Pirates swiped three bases on the night, a fact easily lost in Andrew McCutchen‘s 3-for-4 day, Chris Stewart‘s clutch RBI double, and A.J. Burnett‘s performance. Yet, that one facet of last night’s game could serve as a catalyst for a further breakout for the club.
Here is a look at how the Pirates have done in stolen bases in recent years.
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Prior to yesterday’s game, I had frequently wondered aloud why the Pirates were not attempting to steal more bases. Perhaps the fact that the Pirates refuse to take walks has hurt Clint Hurdle‘s proclivity towards the running game, yet with names like Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte, and McCutchen, the club has some very potent potential to create more runs, so why aren’t they? As a team, the Pittsburgh Pirates have created 21.8 runs using the stolen base version of the runs created formula. 21.8 runs does not sound like much, but over the course of a long season, keeping that pace may swing those highly important one-run and extra innings games towards the Pirates’ favor.
So how can they get there? The first answer is to have more than just the obvious runners attempt to take a base. Polanco (9) and Marte (5) account for 73.7% of the Bucs’ swiped bags. McCutchen’s reticence to attempt a steal could be attributed to his knee issues. The rest of the stolen base threats also come with their own warts. Josh Harrison would first need to get on-base reliably to help manufacture runs in this manner. Looking at the rest of the Pirates returning from 2014, none are consistent base-stealing threats.
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The wild card is Sean Rodriguez. While moonlighting as Pedro Alvarez‘s personal late-inning caddie with the occasional start, if Hurdle decides to start using Rodriguez as a pinch runner in spots, it may result in more runs. Rodriguez could be a dark horse candidate for 20 stolen bases, having taken a total of 24 between 2010-2011 in limited time.
As last night’s offensive breakout illustrates, the Pittsburgh Pirates should take every chance they have to create runs until the offense fully comes around.