The Indians suddenly have become a team with frightening speed on the bases.
Newcomers Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs were among the top 10 base stealers in the National League last season, and Jason Kipnis was among the American League’s top 10 thieves.
Together, the three players stole 103 bases in 2012 with Bourn the holder of three NL base-stealing titles (2009-2011). Last season, Bourn fell to second place, when he stole 42 bases for the Atlanta Braves and was outdone by Everth Cabrera of the San Diego Padres, who amassed 44 steals in a 48 attempts for an astonishing success rate of 92 percent.
Some managers will say players must succeed 70 percent of the time to make the weapon worthwhile. Others say 75 percent. Regardless, Stubbs, Bourn and Kipnis have performed well above par.
Bourn was successful 76 percent of the time in 2012; Kipnis had an 82 percent success rate, and Stubbs came in at 81 percent.
When Terry Francona managed the Boston Red Sox, the offense was based mostly on the idea of hitting doubles in the gaps or launching drives over the wall. But he has no trouble adapting.
“It looks like one of our strengths is stealing bases,” Francona said. “But it’s more than the number of steals, it’s the percentage of successful steals. I don’t like to give away outs, but when you run as much as we will, you’re going to have some guys thrown out.”
General Manager Chris Antonetti views base stealing as one more weapon.
“When I look at our ability to score runs, we won’t rely on any one facet,” he said. “We have flexibility on the roster to match up and score runs in a variety of ways.”
Bourn hasn’t discussed base stealing with Francona yet but said, “I’m pretty sure he’ll let me run.”
Additions of Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs provide burst of speed
Akron Beacon Journal | Feb 16