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January 29 2007

Davey Lopes may want Shane Victorino to turn into a prolific base stealer, but you have to wonder if Charlie Manuel is going to let Victorino have a chance.  Among the team's strengths over the past two season has been how effectively they've used the stolen base.

A big part of that success may simply be that the team's primary base-stealer, Jimmy Rollins, has been so effective.  Here's a look at the top ten in the NL in stolen bases for '06, and what they've done over the past two seasons:

 

  2006 2005 '05+'06
Player SB CS SB CS SB CS % Safe
Reyes 64 17 60 15 124 32 79.5
Pierre 58 20 57 17 115 37 75.7
H Ramirez 51 15

2 at-bats

51 15 77.3
Roberts 49 6 23 12 72 18 80.0
F Lopez 44 12 15 7 59 19 75.6
Soriano 41 17 30 2 71 19 78.9
Furcal 37 13 46 10 83 23 78.3
Freel 37 11 36 10 73 21 77.7
Rollins 36 4 41 6 77 10 88.6
Tavares 33 9 34 11 67 20 77.0

If you go beyond the top ten you can, of course, find base-stealers who were safe a higher percentage of the time than Rollins.  Chris Duffy was safe 26 times in 27 attempts last year.  Eric Brynes 25 times in 28 attempts.  But Rollins' combination of the high numbers of steals and the very high success rate is unusual. 

While Manuel has been here, Bobby Abreu has been Rollins' primary partner in crime on the paths.  Over the past two season he was also very effective, stealing 51 bases and being caught just 13 times.  He was safe about 80% of the time.

The guys that aren't effective base-stealers simply don't get the chance to run much.  During the two years that Charlie Manuel has been at the helm for the Phillies, only two times has a player been caught stealing more than four times in a year.  In both of those cases it was a player who was an effective base stealer that year.  Rollins was caught six times in '05, but was safe in 87% of his attempts that year, and Bobby Abreu was caught nine times in '05 but stole 31 bases.  Abreu was safe in over 77% of his '05 attempts.

Shane Victorino certainly has all-world speed, but was he even an outstanding base stealer in the minors?  Maybe not.  He twice stole 40 bases in the minor leagues, but between 2004 and 2005 in the minors he stole 33 and was caught 18 times -- he was safe in just about 65% of his attempts.

As a Phillies' fan you've already seen Victorino's speed help the team.  You see it when he tracks down a ball in center, beats out an infield hit or goes first to third when another player couldn't.  It's hard to hurt the team doing any of those things.  Not so with trying to steal bases.  There's more to stealing bases than just being fast -- it may take Victorino a while to learn whatever there is to know, and I'm not sure Charlie Manuel is going to let him hurt the team if he proves to be a work in progress when April rolls around.

This old article from Baseball Prospectus argues that you have to be safe 75% of the time to consistently help your team as a base stealer.

This list from the Boston Globe calls the Rod Barajas signing one of the ten best bang-for-your-buck signings of the off-season.  Somebody needs to take that list's keys away.  Right now.

Joe Mauer is a Ryan Howard fan.

Charlie Manuel gives Aaron Rowand some credit for the team's chemistry in this article.

This article says that Manuel says that Burrell has changed his off-season workout routine, running less and cycling more to take pressure off of his foot.

The Brewers may still trade an outfielder before the season starts.

A new site called MetsProject, devoted entirely to the Mets farm system, has just launched.

Rotoworld has an article on the top prospects in the NL East.

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