It’s been seven weeks since Major League Baseball (MLB) kicked off. There have been a lot of rule changes in MLB leading up to this season. The biggest one was the impact of the pitch clock on playing time, which has been reduced by nearly 30 minutes per game. Other rules of interest were the increase in base size (from 15 inches to 18 inches square) and the restriction on balls in play. It was interesting to see if the fading value of stolen bases would rise again. The bottom line is that stolen bases are up.
As of July 23, MLB was averaging 0.70 stolen bases per game, the highest since 1999. The change is even more significant when you look at the trend over the past eight years. During that time, stolen bases per game hovered between 0.46 and 0.52. Some players and teams have benefited from the rule changes.
The Tampa Bay Rays, who lead the big leagues in stolen base percentage (.714), have welcomed the stolen base-friendly rule change. After stealing just 10 bases in his first 153 games, Wander Franco has 14 in four games this season. Seven players on the team have four or more stolen bases. Team stolen bases have also risen vertically, from tied for 11th last year to tied for first this year (53), with “running the bases” having a significant impact on the team’s performance 메이저놀이터.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have also benefited from running the bases. After losing more than 100 games for the past two years in a row, Pittsburgh’s offensive numbers this season aren’t exactly stellar. They’re 17th in team runs scored and 15th in team OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage), but they’re tied with Tampa Bay for first in team stolen bases. Brian Reynolds has stolen all six of his attempts, and Carlos Santana, who had just two stolen bases between 2020 and last year, has five attempts and a 100% success rate. Not to be left out is Bae Ji-hwan.
Bae stole 14 bases in 19 attempts. Sometimes the timing isn’t right, and sometimes he makes mistakes when his motivation gets the better of him. But Bae’s talent is timely as MLB tries to bring the art of stealing back into the game and diversify its scoring options. Bae shows flashes of hitting talent from game to game. But it’s his explosive speed that consistently frustrates opponents.
The Oakland Athletics currently have the worst winning percentage in the MLB (0.204). Despite their poor record, there’s one player who has caught the eye of fans. It’s Esteemed Lewis, who leads the league in stolen bases alongside Brent Rooker, who is showing signs of breakout potential. What makes Lewis stand out from the crowd is his ability to steal bases. He already has 24 stolen bases, solidifying his position as Oakland’s leadoff man.
It’s not easy to win a championship on stolen bases alone. But the magic of the run seems to have been revitalized this season. In 1987, the National League (NL) champion St. Louis Cardinals hit 94 home runs in a season, the only team in the league that year not to reach 100. Their team batting average was also mediocre at .263. But they had a whopping 248 stolen bases, 50 more than the second-place San Diego Padres. Although the team lost the World Series in a hard-fought Game 7, they are still remembered as the pinnacle of running baseball.
For Bae, who is still a rookie, the timing of his debut couldn’t be better. Hopefully, he can shine with his speed, which is his biggest strength, and develop his bat talent to become an integral part of the rebuilding Pittsburgh organization.