Don't be shellfish...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

Through the first three months of the 2013 season, Nate McLouth was running the bases like a man possessed. 8 stolen bases in April. 9 stolen bases in May. Another 7 steals in June. Heading into July, he had already eclipsed his full season career high! Then it all came to a screeching halt. During the month of July, McLouth stole 1 base in 2 attempts. That’s insane. How do we go from a guy who looks like he will easily steal over 40 bags to a guy that we’re praying will get to 30 steals for the season. His average was just as good in July as it was in the previous months, so it’s not like he didn’t have any opportunities. So what gives? Why do some guys just suddenly stop stealing? If you think it’s that he was running a little over his head given his previous steals totals, you’d be right. If you think that it’s more an issue of opposing teams handling him differently, you’re also right. It’s both.

Any good base stealer knows about how long it will take them to get from base to base. They also know about how long it takes the pitcher to get the ball to the plate and how long it will take the catcher to get the ball to second. If those two numbers work out in the runner’s favor, it’s a green light and off he goes. If those two numbers don’t work out, no matter how hard he tries, he won’t make it. With a guy like McLouth, who never really had big time stolen base numbers before (remember his previous career high was 23) his ability to steal a base might totally change if pitchers start getting the ball to home more quickly, swinging the math back in their favor. Baseball is a game of adjustments, and pitchers can adjust to baserunners just like they can adjust to batters.

This seems to be what has happened to McLouth. I recently read an interview with Buck Showalter from July 20th by Britanny Ghiroli of MLB.com. It was brought up that McLouth hadn’t been running as much. Apparently McLouth had told Buck that the stolen bases just “are not there” referring to the quicker times to the plate by pitchers adjusting to his thievery. Buck, being the good manager that he is (sorry for not being totally objective) would rather McLouth not run into outs and recognizes that the pitchers’ adjustments to him on the base paths also result in better pitches to hit for the guys at the dish.

The point of all this is that McLouth had a great first half as far as steals go, but if you are waiting for him to suddenly turn it back on, it may not happen unless pitchers start to fall asleep on him again. He just doesn’t have the wheels to outrun a quick time to the plate like some other guys. This is a time when steals are scarce and fantasy championships are being determined by just a few points (in one of my leagues there are only two steals separating 2nd through 5th places in the category). Even with two great match-ups this week against the Padres and Giants, I don’t know if we are going to see the steals flurry from him that we saw in the first three months of the year. It’s bad news for McLouth’s fantasy owners who might be expecting him to turn on the afterburners again. It’s good news for the Orioles, though, who have a player who knows that running into an out is bad for his baseball team.

I hope this post was helpful and I want to thank commenter ‘Tip’, whose great question on Saturday’s post sparked my curiosity on the subject. I thought it was worth exploring. Here is the link to that small but important conversation with Buck Showalter.

Noteworthy:

Rajai Davis will see a big increase in playing time yet again as Melky Cabrera heads to the DL with a bad knee. Getting the start yesterday Rajai stole 3 bags against the Halos, who continue to allow massive amounts of stolen bases. During Melky’s previous DL stint which started on June 28th, Rajai started all but three games and stole 8 bases in that time. I’d look for more of the same. He’ll get the Mariners and Athletics this week who are both in the middle of the pack for stolen bases allowed. If Melky’s injury turns out to be more serious, Davis could lead a lot of teams to fantasy baseball championships this year.

Cameron Maybin – Obviously this has been a terrible year for Maybin, who started off the season hitting under .200 while nursing a wrist injury that landed him on the DL. Then in June he tears his PCL after just 4 games and has been out ever since. Well, Maybin is out on an extended rehab assignment and is inching his way closer to a return. The knee injury was a serious one, and it’s yet to be seen if he will test it on the base paths, but he has always had the natural abilities to steal. He did steal 4 bags in those 4 games while he was back with the Padres. To win a championship, sometimes you have to take a gamble and stash a guy like this while everyone else is asleep at the wheel.

If you’re a Tweeter on Twitter, you can follow me @643ball

From Around The Web

  1. Tio says:
    (link)

    Mike, As a former McLouth owner, I read the same Showalter article.

    Although, I do not buy it 100% that pitchers would be quicker across the board with McLouth on base.

    I think a big part of the lack of steals is an overall philosophy change by the Orioles which to me makes sense given that batting behind McLouth is Machado, Markakis, Jones and Davis. I don’t have any evidence to back this up other than McLouth’s lack of attempts since June 19th. He is only 1 out of 3 since then.

    The other possibility is an injury that is not being disclosed. Clearly something has happened on this front as you don’t go from 20+ steals to none overnight.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
      (link)

      @Tio: Thanks, Tio. I guess an injury is possible, but what I gathered from reading that interview was that McLouth doesn’t see the opportunities and Buck doesn’t want to run into outs with those good hitters you mentioned behind him. Maybe “dead legs” is a real thing like dead arm?

    • Jim says:
      (link)

      Another factor in McLouth’s decline in steals: Moving from top of order toward the bottom….that hasn’t helped at all.

      • Mike

        Mike says:
        (link)

        @Jim: Fair point, but hasn’t he led off 4 of the last 5 games?

        • Jim says:
          (link)

          Most recently, yes, but the real fall-off seemed to coincide with the drop in batting order…..and also no doubt to the pitcher adjustments as well.
          So much info to assimilate on a ‘simple’ topic!!

          • Mike

            Mike says:
            (link)

            @Jim: Absolutely. It’s amazing to me how many factors play into base running. I took stolen bases for granted until I started writing this column. Thanks for that lineup info and thanks for reading, Jim!

            • Jim says:
              (link)

              Mike…..This may be the dumbest (and or funniest) question you will get…..

              Your photo reveals the best all-around third baseman I have ever seen play. One year I had box seats for a Mets-Phillies game at Shea, and saw a young Phillie fan in front of me. I tapped him on the shoulder and told him, “you’re watching the best third baseman in the game at third…..”

              So are you that guy?

              • Mike

                Mike says:
                (link)

                @Jim: haha, I love it. unfortunately, no it wasn’t me, cause I never did get to see a game at Shea. I remember the Vet fondly though, growing up a stone’s throw from the Walt Whitman bridge in Philly on the South Jersey side. It was a bad stadium, but it was our bad stadium. I was born in ’80 (October in fact) when the Phils were in the Series. I grew up idolizing Schmidt and my son has a signed Series MVP ball in his room that I gave him. Schmidt’s one of those guys that you remember as larger than life.

                • Jim says:
                  (link)

                  Consider me mildly embarrassed…..but now I understand the photo shot! Schmidt was an outstanding 3B because he did it all and was an unqualified HOFer. Didn’t think he would be doing roto baseball, but you never know….

                  Anyway, thanks for all the good analysis and tips!

                  • Mike

                    Mike says:
                    (link)

                    @Jim: Anytime, man. Thanks for reading! Don’t be embarrassed, there’s real people just like you guys behind these avatars, and I appreciate the comments.

  2. Morgan says:
    (link)

    Drop Adam Eaton for Davis?

  3. Adam says:
    (link)

    Shelby miller or garza ROS??
    Thx

  4. Tio says:
    (link)

    Mike – I recently added Coco Crisp for speed. Any chance he goes on a second half steals binge like last year?

    • Mike

      Mike says:
      (link)

      @Tio: yeah, I like him a lot actually if he is available. When I was hunting for info on McLouth I found a great interview with Crisp and how he has changed his approach as he’s gotten older to be more successful in his attempts. Good move on your part.

  5. Switch Hitter says:
    (link)

    Would you roll with B.J. Upton or Drew Stubbs for SB’s ROS?

  6. Nick says:
    (link)

    Just lost Cruz and need another bat in the lineup. Time to cut my losses and drop Cueto?

    • Nick says:
      (link)

      @Nick: Aramis, BJ, or Uggla

      • Mike

        Mike says:
        (link)

        @Nick: I would, I’m considering cutting Cueto in one of my leagues. I like BJ of those three actually.

        • Nick says:
          (link)

          @Mike: Sounds good, thanks

          • Mike

            Mike says:
            (link)

            @Nick: anytime

    • Nick says:
      (link)

      @Nick: Or Nick Franklin

      • Mike

        Mike says:
        (link)

        @Nick: still BJ

  7. AJ says:
    (link)

    Rajai or Leonys Ros?

    • Mike

      Mike says:
      (link)

      @AJ: With Melky out, I’d lean Rajai

      • AJ says:
        (link)

        Rajai over EYJ as well?@Mike:

        • Mike

          Mike says:
          (link)

          @AJ: If I had to rank em, they’d go Rajai (while Melky is out) Martin, EY2. EY2 gets more SB than Martin, but I like Martin as a bat overall more than EY2.

          • AJ says:
            (link)

            Nice thanks..looking for speed for sure since im about to drop Villar no point in having him and all that sweet speed if he cant get on base…@Mike:

            • Mike

              Mike says:
              (link)

              @AJ: No problem. Thanks for reading! I like Villar, but if EY2 and Rajai are available, I can see dropping him for them.

  8. Adam says:
    (link)

    Shelby miller or homer bailey ROS??

    • Mike

      Mike says:
      (link)

      @Adam: I’d go Homer

  9. Chris says:
    (link)

    Michael Morse or Marlon Byrd ROS?

  10. Harris says:
    (link)

    One quick one… Uhehara 3@HOU, 4@KC or Jansen 4@STL, 3 TB. I’m only thinking of Uehara because of the matchups.

      • Harris says:
        (link)

        @Mike: thanks…great site btw.

        • Mike

          Mike says:
          (link)

          @Harris: thanks man. appreciate that.

  11. Matt says:
    (link)

    So I said no to Koji and Stubbs for Rajai. Now the guy offered marcus stroman and a fifth rd pick next year (45 man rosters, 15 team dynasty, we can keep everyone). Is this too good to pass up? Or still hold on to Rajai?

    • Mike

      Mike says:
      (link)

      @Matt: Fifth round major league pick? If you’re not in it right now, I would take the deal as Rajai won’t even be in the neighborhood of that round next year and Stroman as a lottery ticket has some pretty nice numbers. If you are contending and need SBs to win now, though, I’d hold Rajai.

      • Alex says:
        (link)

        @Mike: Nah, fifth rd minor league. Appreciate the answer

        • Mike

          Mike says:
          (link)

          @Alex: No problem man. I would hold then or try to get a better pick.

  12. Alex says:
    (link)

    Hey man, thank you for the posts and help.

    Really quick, tried to buy low on upton as a hail mary with de aza but was denied. How about sending A Gordon for BJ? Have De aza and A Jax so Gordon is sorta bench.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
      (link)

      @Alex: I’d hold

    • Mike

      Mike says:
      (link)

      @Alex: and thanks for reading!

  13. madden_curser says:
    (link)

    10 teamer. Struggling to settle on 1B since Pujols went out. Picked up Kendrys Morales. A good hitter who has been slowed by that freak injury celebrating a HR. He is healthy now, in a contract year and crushing the ball. Other options; Christian Yelich-yet to find success against left-handed pitching, batting just 1-for-12 off of southpaws, an issue he also struggled with in the minors, Adam Dunn-hitting .300 since early July, with a .490 slugging percentage and .881 OPS in his last 28 games. His batting average has increased from .198 to .226 in that span. He also has four doubles, five home runs and 15 RBI in his last 28 games, Adam LaRoche homers in consecutive games, or Justin Smoak- .274/.376/.434 with 10 home runs and 25 RBI in 281 at-bats. Stand pat with Kendrys Morales? Thanks.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
      (link)

      @madden_curser: At this point in the year, it’s hard to tank your team’s average, so I might take a chance on Dunn for the counting stats. After him, I like LaRoche who usually plays pretty well in the second half and is set up for some RBI chances in Washington’s lineup. Kendrys is okay, but I like the other two better, and I wouldn’t worry about Smoak or Yelich in a shallow league like that.

  14. Ryan says:
    (link)

    Thoughts on picking up E-Cab just to keep for $6 next year? Or is the value not that great? Add $5, keep 6 10-team 5×5 roto.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
      (link)

      @Ryan: I like that he can dominate a category that’s hard to come by, but with only six keepers I’m wondering if you have some other options that might contribute more all around. For that price you could do a lot worse though and he plays a premium position which is really handy when selecting keepers.

      • Ryan says:
        (link)

        @Mike: The add $5 is what makes it somewhat tricky… Currently, my plan is to definitely keep Starling Marte for $5, Edwin Encarnacion for $11, and Jose Fernandez for $5. After that, other possibilities include Rizzo for $10, Domonic Brown for $7, Kenley for $8, Rios for $18, Aroldis for $10, Wilin Rosario for $10, and a bunch of rookies for $5 (Cingrani, Brad Miller, Bogaerts, Yelich) or $6 (Gerrit Cole, Gyorko). Jason Castro is also on waivers and would be $5… Do you think Cabrera is in the best 6 with those choices? Thanks for your help.

        • Mike

          Mike says:
          (link)

          @Ryan: I like E-Cab at 6 bucks, but not so much if he jumps to $11. Of that group the name that stands out to me is Brown at $7. That seems like good value to me. That’s my two cents, and you might also want to check back with Terse on his keeper post later this week for his opinion.

          • Ryan says:
            (link)

            @Mike: Thanks for your help.

            • Mike

              Mike says:
              (link)

              @Ryan: No problem man.

  15. Lucas says:
    (link)

    Evening Mike –
    18 Team 5×5
    do you believe Jason Bourgeois will mooch enough PT to be relevant while DJ is DL’ed – I need me some steals.

    • Mike

      Mike says:
      (link)

      @Lucas: I actually got a chance to see JB play recently when Durham came to Columbus and the speed is still there. I joked about how I used to pick him up off waivers all the time for steals help. My guess is Maddon will mix and match in a platoon with Fuld. Maybe similar to a Jarrod Dyson type in KC which does hold some value if you are chasing the steals.

      • Lucas says:
        (link)

        @Mike:
        Tks Mike-

Comments are closed.