Weighing the running game

The Tigers want to be a team that can run a little more. Austin Jackson has set a goal of 40 stolen bases. Yet there’s still the matter of having guys on base for Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.

“If you’re on first base and [Cabrera] is up, you’re in scoring position,” said Will Rhymes, who pointed out the percentages often suggest not running.

So how much more can the Tigers really run? Can they be more aggressive stealing bases, or is it more about taking the extra base on a hit?

It’ll be an interesting facet to see develop as spring training unfolds. If you’ve followed for a while, you know the Tigers have talked about being a better baserunning team seemingly every year since Jim Leyland arrived. But at the end of the day, they’re a certain style of team. So you have to take some of this with a grain of salt.

That said, they haven’t had a player with Austin Jackson’s combination of speed and on-base ability in a very long time, and Leyland wants to utilize that talent. Jackson has the green light, but Leyland has the ability to put on the stop sign. But Leyland liked the aggressiveness he saw Jackson develop a bit as last season went along.

“The thing with Austin Jackson you’ve got to remember is he’s going to get better,” Leyland said. “At the same time, they’re going to be more aware of Austin Jackson than they are somebody else.”

It takes time, Leyland said, for baserunners to learn pitchers and read their moves, even though scouting reports on those things have come a long way.

Ultimately, Leyland said, he’s more focused on getting guys who don’t run very often to take their opportunities.

3 Comments

pssshhh – I want to read an article that mentions people BESIDES AJ being involved in the run game. At least Pudge, Damon and Gary S. could run the bases….not that i want them back but

My first thought is…we couldn’t possibly run any less so that should be an easy goal. Jimmy points out though that any of our other runners from before are gone too. Little Will, AJ, Raburn…AJ is our obvious choice and who knows how much Little Will will be playing this year. I am not sold on Raburn being quick but if we want to up our running game we have to try and I think he can steal a few bags this year. He makes some big mistakes on the bases but being given a straight steal sign is not something you have to think too much about.

Hey Jason, just found out we have a mutual acquaintance, a guy who used to work for the Mud Hens and now works with me says he knew you back when. He said he was going to shoot you a note one of these days. Small world. We were talking Tigers and Cabrera the other day and I mentioned this blog and asked if he ever followed it and oddly enough he said he knew you.

Another day closer to the start of the season…

The running game does not just include stealing bases but also the hit and run. This is used more with guys of average speed and a good contact hitter at the plate. I could see putting it on with Avila, Raburn, Willie, Sizemore, maybe Maggs at the plate. But that depends on who is on 1st base. I personally love the hit run. Escpecially with a runner on 1st and 3rd and 1 out. Stays out of the double play and a run still scores on a ground ball.

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