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Angels on the Basepaths
2003-08-29 09:12
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

In writing about Anaheim's disappointing 2003 season Thursday, Aaron Gleeman mades some points that are pertinent to thinking about the Dodgers:

Last year, Mike Scioscia was the king of the hit and run, the king of the stolen base, he was setting guys in motion and "making things happen" - and we all know how much baseball writers and announcers like that. That part of Anaheim's offense and the impact Scioscia had in that area were praised constantly as one of the main keys to their World Series run.

And this year? Not so much. I haven't heard a single thing about how brilliant Scioscia's managerial tactics have been when it comes to the running game and aggressive baserunning this year. ...

The Angels are actually running slightly more often this year than they did last year. They are on pace to steal about 10 more bases. They are also getting caught at a slightly higher rate, which isn't all that unexpected when you are running more often.

Yet, I don't think I have heard a single broadcaster bring up the Angels' work on the bases as a reason for their record this year, and I don't think I have read a single article opining that Scioscia's fondness of running and hit and running is the cause of their current place in the standings. I find it interesting that they are essentially doing the same things on the bases that they did last year and they are even doing it a little more this season, yet somehow it is no longer the reason for their record and their success (or lack thereof).

(Italics mine.)

When the Dodgers aren't scoring runs, the first thing that the letter-writers to the Times carp about is the lack of an ability to manufacture runs by the steal, sacrifice or hit-and-run. I wish it were possible for these people to understand that 1) those strategies require talent from your hitters, just like anything else, and 2) those strategies manufacture runs the way Ford manufactured cars pre-assembly line.

As Gleeman concluded:

Of course, in reality, Anaheim's work on the bases was pretty far down on the list of things that caused them to win a World Series title last season. When seemingly everyone on the team is having a career year with the bat, hitting .300 and smoking balls into the gaps everytime there is a runner on base, it makes a lot of other things look good and important.

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