Speed kills, and this year, the New York Yankees‘ roster is stacked with speedy base runners. You can teach hitting, fielding and pitching, but you cannot teach speed.
Having multiple guys who can run does a myriad of things. For starters, those guys will get a ton of in-field hits, steal a lot of bases, score a lot of runs, and put pressure on the opposing pitchers. Getting a pitcher out of rhythm and out of his comfort zone is immensely important to a team’s success.
The Yankees are usually towards the bottom of the league statistically when it comes to stolen bases, and in recent years, most of their production comes from the legs of Brett Gardner. In the past, because Gardner was the only real threat to swipe bags, teams could be very careful with him. Now, the Yankees have a cavalry of guys with fresh legs.
Gardner will be joined by Jacoby Ellsbury, who has led the league in stolen bases three times in his career, once tallying 70 stolen bases, and has tallied at least 50 three different seasons. Ellsbury will wreak havoc as the new Yankee leadoff hitter, as he is a threat to go every time he reaches base.
The Yankees also acquired veteran Brian Roberts, who may be getting older, but he can still really run. Roberts led the league in stolen bases in 2007 sliding in safely 50 times. The guy who will likely be platooning with Roberts is Eduardo Nunez. Nunez is not particularly known for his defense, but can flat out fly on the base paths. In fact, he is so fast that he has had worlds of trouble trying to keep his helmet on his head.
It’s hard to forget the ageless wonder Ichiro Suzuki. The man is a walking infield single and even though he has just reached his 40’s, Ichiro can still fly down that line and steal 30 bases a year. He too once led the league in steals with 56.
These guys are not all just speed demons, they also see a ton of pitches and have high on-base percentages. With Gardner, Ellsbury, Roberts, Nunez and Ichiro, expect the Yankees to not only lead the league in stolen bases and runs scored, but also look for all this speed to go hand-in-hand with them leading the league in wins.