By Chris Drosehn – @gopherthetopher
Last season we heard a lot about the Red Sox and their aggressive base running. Aggressive isn’t quite the right word, as it was more “reckless” than anything. The statistic that tracks this is called, “outs on the bases.” And it measures how a team performs when trying to go an extra 90 feet throughout the course of the season. It’s measured by how many times the runners were thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double, advancing on a fly ball, advancing on a wild pitch, or being thrown out at home or any time someone tries to take an extra base.
The Red Sox were dead last in the major leagues with 81 outs on the bases in 2017. That’s the equivalent of 27 innings worth of outs on the bases, or three games for those of you keeping score as you read this.
The next closest to them? The New York Yankees with 70 outs on the bases. That’s 11 extra outs the Red Sox made compared to the next closest team. What makes it worse? The Red Sox were thrown out 29 times at home in 2017.
Alex Cora was asked about the outs on the bases and my take away? The Red Sox needed to be more responsible in 2018. Alex Cora while speaking specifically about the outs on the bases said, “we’re trying to preach that they have to be aware what the defense is, who’s running in front of you, if it’s a close play at the plate and if it’s not.”
The Red Sox already lead the major leagues in 2018 with four outs on the base paths.
It’s not that they are all bad attempts, but when Brock Holt is thrown out in a game against the Rays by about 10 to 15 feet on a single to short right field, there is definitely a problem.
That Holt tag at the plate in Tampa similarly lacks the awareness and responsibility Alex Cora was looking for on this opening road trip.
To further the issue a little more, the Red Sox haven’t been successful at taking an extra base this year. As Cora said, the reckless abandon with which the Red Sox run the bases needs to change, though it obviously hasn’t to this point.
Now, it is early, so I’m not trying to get on Alex Cora’s case for this one. It might be a tough thing to instill a new base running philosophy when the previous manager was so bad at holding his players accountable. It just has to be better.
Aggressive base running is great, and if effective can help transform an offense. The Arizona Diamondbacks were the best at taking the extra base last year with 137 steals, at a 45% success rate.
The 2017 Arizona Diamondbacks were second to last in outs on the base paths in all of MLB. They made it to the post season in part because of that. There is a way to be aggressive, but not reckless, which Arizona proved in 2017.
The Red Sox haven’t quite found that balance this year, and hopefully under their new manager’s direction they will strike that balance.
For now, however, the Red Sox are on pace to lead the majors in outs on the base paths.
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