As many of you know, the Detroit Tigers were among the worst in Major League Baseball at base running in 2012. The Tigers only successfully stole 59 bases, which was the second lowest total in the majors – the only team with a lower number was the Baltimore Orioles. There are not many players in the Tigers lineup that have the speed to steal a base, but in general, the team does not run the bases well. The lineup is not set up to burn around the bases, but to power the ball into the gaps and over the fence. However, there are a few guys in the lineup that could swipe a couple more bags in the 2013 season.
Players such as Austin Jackson and Andy Dirks have the potential to steal a few bases if they can be taught the techniques of stealing. What most people don’t know is that it takes more than just speed to steal a base – it takes skills to read the pitchers and get a good jump. The perfect example of this is Jackson, who might be one of the fastest players in the league but hasn’t had success stealing bases because he hasn’t been trained to steal bags at a high rate.
The Tigers hope to steal a few more bases with the help of Jeff Cox, who has been asked to work with the players in spring training and a few games throughout the year. Cox had a short stint in the majors, playing for only two years, but was a third base coach for five years. He coached with the Chicago White Sox and the Pittsburgh Pirates along with the Florida Marlins (now the Miami Marlins), with whom he won a World Series with in 2003.
Jackson and Dirks should improve greatly from his help along with Quintin Berry, who was the team’s leading base-stealer in 2012. On top of the impact in stolen bases, they hope that the hiring of Cox will improve base running in general. An extra step or two in the secondary lead or rounding a base on a base hit could be the difference in scoring a few more runs, and maybe winning a few more games.