The Baltimore Orioles and Their Stolen Base Problem
As some of you may already know, the Baltimore Orioles were dead last in stolen bases in the 2012 season. They had just 58 stolen bases which dwarfs in comparison to the Milwaukee Brewers who were the leader in stolen bases with 158.
Before I get started, the top eight teams in stolen bases did not even make the playoffs. That includes teams like the Miami Marlins and Minnesota Twins. The “best” playoff team in stolen base terms, was the Oakland A’s and their well known fundamental “Moneyball” approach . They accumulated 122 stolen bases, still 64 more than the O’s.
On August 4th, of last season the Orioles called up outfielder Nate McLouth to give their running game a boost. Believe it or not McLouth is actually ranked 5th among active players when it comes to stolen base percentage. He has 87 bags swiped in his career, with just 15 time he was caught stealing.
Prior to McLouth being inserted into the lineup, the Orioles had approximately 35 stolen bases from April to the end of July. In the last two months and three games in October, the Orioles recorded 26 stolen bases. McLouth had 12 of those bases.
As I look over the current players with the best stolen base percentage, I see a name that rings a bell. Ranked 2nd on the list is Alexi Casilla, whom the Orioles just signed during the off-season, on Nov. 2. Now it may just be a coincidence, but every signing has a purpose. It looks like Orioles manager, Buck Showalter is going to have a lot more speed going round in 2013.
There are current free agents that aren’t necessarily accurate when it comes to stealing bases, but they still rack up quite the number of stolen bases. Michael Bourn, who was just signed by the Cleveland Indians, would have been a great addition to the Orioles or any team who is looking to speed things up drastically.
After Bourn, there are very few free agents that would be a good source of speed for the Orioles. Scott Podsednik was the first name that came to mind. He is one of those players that is known for one thing and one thing only, and that is speed. He is ranked 13th among active players in career stolen bases. Although, after taking a closer look he’s a career .280 with over 1,000 career hits. But don’t expect any power impact from Podsednik, who has just 42 career home runs in 3908 at bats.
Another option that is not as flashy, but definitely affordable would be Ryan Theriot, who played an important role with San Francisco Giants as they won the 2012 World Series. Over his eight-year career he has an average of 22 SB’s per 162 game season. He has also played for four different teams in the last three years all in the National League. Theriot’s contract last season was just $1.2 million, so the Orioles could absolutely afford him.
The Orioles may not be making big monster waves with any of its signings, but they are signing small components of what great teams consist of. Now, if the Orioles could just get that solid first baseman they have always been lacking for years.