Dodgers’ prowess on base paths leaves a lot to be desired

We all knew that when the Dodgers traded Dee Gordon, they weren’t going to have a legitimate stolen base threat. There is no one in the organization who could swipe 60-plus bases in a season.

Carl Crawford is on the disabled list and wasn’t running much despite his plus-speed. Joc Pederson stole 30 bases in Triple-A last year (in 43 attempts — some of the caught stealings came when he needed one more bag for 30 and was getting thrown out), but he doesn’t have 30-stolen base speed in the majors. Yasiel Puig might be the fastest runner, but has yet to learn how to use it to steal bases (chances are, he’s a much better runner underway rather than trying to steal — there is a difference). Jimmy Rollins can’t be counted on to steal 30 (hasn’t done so since 2012 and might not get on base enough). Howie Kendrick should be a 10-12-stolen base guy, but that’s about it.

Here are the career-highs of the Dodger stolen base threats (year accomplished):

  • Crawford: 60 (2009)
  • Kendrick: 14 (2014)
  • Pederson: 31 (2013, in Double-A)
  • Puig: 11 (2014)
  • Rollins: 46 (2001, when he was 22 years old)

Oof.

The Dodgers are 7-for-16 (43.7 percent) in stolen base attempts so far in 2015. Last year, they led the National League in stolen bases with 138 (64 of which came from Gordon) at a 73.4 percent clip. In 2013, they had 78 at a 73.6 percent mark. The success rate of the two previous years seems doable, but the volume of steals doesn’t (especially the 2014 number). That’s fine, as long as they make up for it with efficient base running. That isn’t happening yet this season.

The Dodgers also have a -3.2 BsR rating in 2015, which is firmly below-average. Last year, it was -0.8 (helped largely by Gordon’s 10.4 score). I guess I shouldn’t complain, as the number was -6.2 in 2013 — 10th-worst in baseball.

A prime example of the Dodgers hurting themselves on the base paths came on Sunday, when Kendrick laced a liner to right-center field in the bottom of the ninth. It was an easy double, but Kendrick tried to stretch it to a triple. He was thrown out by plenty. Fortunately, the Dodgers ended up winning in 13 innings, but they won’t always be able to sustain plays like that over the course of the season.

I suspect that -3.2 number will get better as they steal more bases and make smarter decisions on the base paths. The Dodgers aren’t going to hit 260 home runs (their current pace), so they’ll have to start manufacturing runs at some point. It’s just interesting to see the Dodgers’ base running isn’t exactly hurting the team thus far.

Yes, losing Gordon’s stolen-base ability hurts in that department, but when you have a league-best offense, the stolen bases isn’t nearly as critical as it is to other teams that don’t hit the ball well.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.