Tom Boswell held his weekly on-line chat with readers today. It’s all great reading (the full chat is here), but he did have an interesting response to a question about the Nats pitching staff and their inability to hold runners on first base. Here’s the exchange (with minor edits).
Q: Please say something interesting about the Nats’ tendency to allow stolen bases. How can one staff have developed a team-wide problem like that? Is it something that these particular pitchers would have in common even if they pitched for different teams? Is it something about the way they are coached in this organization — focus on the batter and trust your stuff, especially when you’re young? Would there be a tradeoff if they were to pay more attention to baserunners?
Boz: It’s just as bad as it looks, especially for some of the relievers who have some of the slowest times to 1st base in baseball, like Drew Storen.
They need to throw to 1st more often and, more important (especially in Stras’ case next year), they need to stop this “go on first movement” by BREAKING FROM THE RUBBER. You don’t have to throw to home or first. You can quick-step off and the runner, if he breaks, is dead. Edwin Jackson, I think, finally did it recently.
On the whole, the Nats are willing to sacrifice some SB for the sake of extra stuff on the ball because they are such a huge power staff. That’s probably part of Davey’s confidence/intimidation makeup. But there’s a limit.
There are 2 proper measures. The percent your throw out. And how many steals you allow per game. The Nats are awful at throwing out theives (102 of 120 successful). But 102 SB in 140 games isn’t bad, more like “poor.” But it’s getting worse as foes figure it out. So, it’s a significant problem, especially in lower-scoring post-season games; but not a huge one — yet.
Here are the good, the bad and the ugly vs base stealers. Remember that relievers pitch only 40 percent as many innings as staters.
Steals and thrown out stealing for starters:
Gio Gonzalez…10-1 (bad for a lefty)
Detwiler…3-2 (ecxellent. Only one steal of 2nd base in ’12).
Only good move in bullpen is Matthues…2-0.
Clippard & Burnett both 6-0. Storen 5-0. Gorzelanny (lefty) 5-1.
Bet you didn’t know you could find such stats. Sadly for me, you can now find ANYTHING ON EARTH.