There’s been a lot of talk around Giants camp lately about the concentration on baserunning. With the team’s biggest power addition still rehabbing a shattered ankle, who can blame them?
Last season, the Giants stole a total of 85 bases, 24th in the Majors (13th in the National League). That was with Andres Torres (who led the team with 19 steals, getting caught 6 times) and Darren Ford (7 steals in 12 attempts) on the roster. Even without both speedy outfielders, the Giants will look to increase their stolen base total in 2012.
The Giants countered the losses of two of their fastest players by adding two better base stealers, at least in terms of efficiency. Last year, Melky Cabrera swiped a career-high 20 bags for the Royals, and was caught ten times. Before 2010, Cabrera was a more efficient base stealer, averaging a 77.3% success rate as opposed to the less impressive 66.7% success rate he posted last year.
The biggest addition from the off-season from a baserunning standpoint is clearly Angel Pagan. Pagan stole 13 more bases than Torres last season, and was responsible for 37 steals in 2010. Pagan was only caught stealing 16 times over the past two seasons, an 81% success rate.
Nate Schierholtz, who stole 7 bases last season, also figures to be a bigger runner this year, as Andrew Baggarly wrote about on Tuesday. If all of Schierholtz’s time pulling parachutes and sleds in the off-season makes him a more efficient base stealer (he’s been caught 12 times in 29 attempts in the last five years), perhaps he can finally solidify a spot as the true everyday right fielder.
Gary Brown has the potential to be this season’s Darren Ford, if not better. The 2010 first-round pick stole 53 bases in San Jose last season, and was successful 73.6% of the time. If the Giants are really committed to making an impact on the basepaths this season, Brown could get an opportunity in San Francisco sooner than some people think.
A new commitment to base stealing could be why the Giants insist they’re going to keep Emmanuel Burriss on the team, and with Brandon Crawford and Ryan Theriot (who used to be a 20-SB threat, at few years ago), the Giants are poised to steal second and third far more often in the upcoming season than they did in their offensively-dormant 2011.
Everyone knows the Giants are going to grind for runs. Producing on the base paths is something we haven’t seen from this club in a while, and it should be fun to watch the Giants play a little more small ball and push the action with their legs. Hopefully, this will relieve some of the pressure on the tremendous pitching staff and put some more runs on the board.