More on Tigers aggressive baserunning

Remember Jim Leyland’s quotes early in camp about wanting to become a better baserunning team — not through utilizing the speedsters more, but by getting some of his other baserunners to look for opportunities and take advantage when they present themselves? Looks like they’re instilling the mentality.

The Tigers put up a good late-inning comeback Saturday to beat the Blue Jays, but in a one-run game, getting their first run with some aggressive baserunning made a difference — not the difference, but not trivial, either. Miguel Cabrera went from first to third base on a Brennan Boesch single to right, beating out a strong throw from Moises Sierra, and set up Brandon Inge’s sac fly because of it. Boesch looked to get to second base on the sac fly, and though he ended up thrown out easily, Leyland likes the mentality.
“If you’re going to be aggressive, it’s a good time in the spring,” Boesch said Sunday morning.
It’s a message the coaches are getting across to them. To Boesch’s credit, he’s a better runner than he probably gets credit for. But he’s also a slugger, and he was batting Saturday in front of Inge, who isn’t a traditional situational hitter by any stretch.
Those are the situations where the Tigers can be a better baserunning team. It’s difficult to see them stealing a ton of bases in front of Miguel Cabrera if he’s hitting anything like he did last year. And there aren’t a whole lot of instinctive basestealers who could get on in the bottom half of the order, where you might like them to set up opportunities for Inge and Jhonny Peralta.
But they can take the extra base. They did it last year at a better rate than you might expect. Bill James Online, a site run by Baseball Info Solutions, does a pretty decent job of tracking baserunning chances. They had the Tigers last year going first to third 100 times in 356 opportunities, by far the most since they started tracking the data in 2002. For comparison’s sake, they went first to third 52 times in 239 chances in 2008, and 73 times in 240 chances in 2006.
Also for comparison’s sake, the Twins did it 92 times in 329 opportunities. The White Sox did it 85 times in 294 chances.
The Tigers earned a +23 net gain in baserunning, also their best since at least 2002. Add in basestealing, and Detroit’s +23 net gain was their best since 2007, when they somehow earned a huge rating on stolen bases.

5 Comments

the stat that’s missing in this report is how many runners were thrown out at 3rd last year compared to other seasons. if that number is going up too and disproportionately higher than the number of added successes, you have a team/3rd base coach that is overly aggressive on the bases.

I imagine there have always been Spring Training phenoms who didn’t “go north” for the regular season but it does seem a shame there seems to me so many this year for the Tigers. I just hope they don’t give up and will be there when their time comes. Of course, Spring Training is only about half over so they need to continue their progress for the full month. So far, I wish the team had room for Wilk, Furbush, Oliver, Turner, Rhymes, Sizemore, Wells, Dirks, Boesch, etc. I probably missed someone but these are the ones who come to mind quickly.

Well it looks like today it was a tale of two games. Max struggled and the hitters struggled in one game. Runners were stranded on third with one out at least twice that I can remember with only 1 out. Although it was good to see Magglio square one up.
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The other game they hit, they pitched well enough, and came through with runners in scoring position.
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Will be interested as always to here Jason and Riches take on the first game as I think they were at it.
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Gk

Yea, what’s up with Max? Is he working on different pitches or something? His last 2 starts have stunk.

We had five lefties in the lineup today and Houston threw lefties for the first seven innings or so. No surprise that there was little run scoring. Maggs’ homer was a beauty, very high and very deep.
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On our first bases loaded one out chance, it appeared to me that HP ump Vanover suddenly shifted his strike zone on both Martinez and Boesch. Or maybe it had been there all along but no one had hit it. At any rate, they weren’t happy. With Rhymes, I said Will should get something done unless he hits into a doubleplay, so then he hits into a doubleplay.
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The game’s last hitter was 19 year old Dixon Machado from Venezuala, who weighs in at 140 pounds. He looked like a middle schooler up there and Vanover was lustily booed in a good natured fashion whenever he called a strike on him.
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We took the same “secret” route to Lakeland today as yesterday, parked in the same spot as yesterday, got out of the car at the same time as yesterday, and the PA was playing the same song as yesterday when we opened the car doors. I commented that it was like “Groundhog Day.” The song being played on the PA? “I’ve Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher. I’m not making this up.
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–Rich

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