The Los Angeles Dodgers were expected to have one of the strongest rosters in 2022, but so far at the start of the regular season they have beaten teams in other ways.
While they only have a collective .405 save percentage, the Dodgers are second in baseball with 14 stolen bases. Going into play Wednesday, the St. Louis Cardinals narrowly edge them with 15 stolen bases, while the Baltimore Orioles, LA Angels and New York Mets have 12 apiece.
Stealing bases has never been a focus of the Dodgers’ offense under president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Dave Roberts. In their last three full seasons, they stole just 65, 57, and 75 sacks, all of which ranked in the bottom half of the league.
That mindset hasn’t changed much this season despite their early lead in stolen bases, and Roberts is shocked to see the Dodgers sitting atop the category, but he anticipates the change, via SportsNet LA:
“Certainly not a point of emphasis. I think these are opportunities given to us and our guys are proactive. If you have a chance to steal a base and take 90 feet, we’ll do it. Very surprising statistics here. I’m proud of it, but I don’t think it’s going to last very long.
While the Dodgers may not be focused on stolen bases, this is one of the fastest clubs they’ve had in recent memory.
Trea Turner is among the fastest players in the sport with a sprint speed of 29.9 feet per second, but they also now have Gavin Lux (29.1 feet per second) and Chris Taylor (28 feet per second) all playing days with speed that ranks in the top 20% of the league.
Along with them, Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts are also excellent baserunners who can steal some bases even without elite gear.
As surprising as their current stolen base lead is, the Dodgers’ slugging drop might be more surprising. Their slugging percentage this season is significantly lower than their .429, .483, .472, .442 and .437 percentages in the previous five seasons, but they still rank in the top five in MLB.
Roberts expects home run totals to rise for his club, but he sees a concerning trend that could be caused by MLB’s new rule requiring every club to use a humidor.
“There were a handful that I felt right off the bat, the sound, the trajectory, the speed, which I thought were circuits that didn’t come out of the stadium,” he recently said.
If MLB continues to enforce rules that remove the offense, then the Dodgers would be wise to use their speed to their advantage.
Dodgers set stolen franchise base record in 2021 playoffs
Although the Dodgers haven’t run much throughout the 2021 season, that changed in October and they showed they could incorporate stolen base into their game.
After averaging 0.4 stolen bases per game during the 2021 regular season, the Dodgers set a playoff franchise record with 16 stolen bases in just 12 games; an average of nearly 1.2 per game. Their previous playoff record was 13.
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