PITTSBURGH - AUGUST 17: Manager Clint Hurdle #13 of the Pittsburgh Pirates watches his team play against the St Louis Cardinals during the game on August 17, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Anyone else read this and groan? Rob Biertempfel reports that Clint Hurdle wants the Bucs to "be more active" on the basepaths, particularly by stealing more bases.
The Pirates' high degree of activity on the bases this season has already been really annoying. They've run into tons of outs at key times, and have been one of the worst baserunning teams in the majors despite having a bunch of young, fast players who are supposed to be good baserunners. It's not totally clear from the article whether "be more active" simply means stealing more bases, or things like hit-and-runs as well, though, so let's let's just restrict this discussion to basestealing.
Their 68 percent success rate when stealing is 24th in the majors. I'm not sure where exactly the break-even point is in this run-scoring environment, but that's probably pretty close. With guys like Andrew McCutchen, Chase D'Arnaud and Jose Tabata on the team, they really should be doing better than that. The way to increase the value they're getting from basestealing isn't to steal more. It might actually be to steal less, or at least to find more favorable situations. Stealing third more often, as Biertempfel reports Hurdle wants to do, is not the answer. Most of his players are having a hard enough time stealing second. It must be tempting to go crazy now that he's got Tabata, D'Arnaud and Alex Presley back, but Hurdle really needs to be looking for high-percentage situations to steal, not looking to steal more.