The Pittsburgh Pirates signed backstop Roberto Pérez, who’s coming off of a few shoulder injuries. But based on recent trends, any persistent arm issues shouldn’t be a problem.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Jacob Stallings to the Miami Marlins, they almost immediately signed former Gold Glove winner Roberto Pérez to a one-year deal. Though Pérez has seen his fair share of injuries over the past two seasons, mostly stemming from his shoulder.
However, some have questioned his long-term ability to keep runners still because of his injury. But if the current trend of stolen bases continues, this shouldn’t be a worry at all. Nobody is stealing bases anymore, and the proof is in recent stolen base trends.
Last year, the Kansas City Royals stole 124 total bases, the most in the league and six fewer than Rickey Henderson alone did in 1982. More teams stole less than 70 bases than stole 100+. Former Pittsburgh Pirate Starling Marte and Kansas City Royals utility man Whit Merrifield were the only two players with more than 35 stolen bases. The era of the stolen base is long gone, and it’s no longer that big of a threat.
Take, for example, the 2021 National League stolen base leader, Trea Turner. He swiped a total of 32 bases in 148 games. There was a 25% chance that Turner would attempt a stolen base in a game in 2021. However, that could go even further down next year. Now that Turner will be atop a line-up alongside Max Muncy, A.J. Pollock, Justin Turner, Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor, Will Smith, Cody Bellinger, what reason would he have to steal on anything else except for passed balls, wild pitches, or when the pitcher nor fielders care if he takes off for another base (ie blowout games, or when his run doesn’t matter)?
Last year, the fastest runner in the National League Central was Tyler O’Neill, with a 29.7 feet/second sprint speed. Harrison Bader had a 29.5 feet/second sprint speed, attempting only 14 stolen bases. And why would either Bader or O’Neill risk an out when they hit ahead of Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt.
Put it like this: the Cardinals were the only team in the National League Central to have one player with 15+ stolen bases. Tommy Edman was the only player on a National League Central team who attempted to steal a base 20 or more times. Only 13 players in total swiped 15+ bases in the entire National League, with a total of 32 swiping 15+ bags across the MLB. Only 75 players had reached double digits. Going back to 2011, 70 players swiped 15+ base and 110 reached 10+. When so many runs score on home runs, what is the point of potentially running into an out?
The point is that even if Pérez has any arm issues, nobody is running enough for it to matter that much. It’s 100% possible that next year’s stolen base leader has less than 30 stolen bases, even if all 162 games are played. Players, even fast ones, aren’t running anymore. The average number of stolen base attempts per 162 games in 2021 was 6.6. So long as Pérez hasn’t completley lost the ability to throw accurately and won’t sail the ball into the outfield on the occasions when base runners do attempt to steal, Pérez’s shoulder issues shouldn’t be a massive problem for him or the Pittsburgh Pirates.