The Dodgers top of the lineup has been doing the job so far in the early part of the 2014 regular season. The Dodgers are 7-4 through their first 11 games, and now lead the majors in stolen bases with 13. The Dodger’s top of the order guys, Carl Crawford, and Dee Gordon are both doing their jobs by getting on base. Not to mention both have gotten off to terrific starts.
Gordon is hitting .405 (15 for 37), and has stolen five out of six bases to start the season. He has five multi-hit games this season, and has a home run. Crawford is hitting .306 (11 for 36), and is four for five in stolen bases. That means Gordon and Crawford have stolen nine bases in 11 attempts this season.
The two of them getting on base is very important considering the slow starts from the middle of the order hitters.
But their great starts have made the Dodgers a more solid base running team. Instead of being at the bottom of the league in Base Running advancement like they were last season, the Dodgers are merely in the top 20 currently. This trend has to continue if the Dodgers want to be competitive and score more runs.
We’ve already discussed the tootblans that have plagued the Dodgers, but there are other factors in base running. I wrote a lot about this last year, because the club was so terrible at running the bases in 2013. This year has been a little better, but still needs improvement. While there have been the usual Tootblans on the base paths, it hasn’t affected the club’s ability to take those extra bases. Why? Because the Dodgers are not so much of a station to station club like they were last year, at least so far. Gordon has helped tremendously with this.
One of the most important aspects of base running is the ability to take extra bases. If a team never takes extra bases then they become a station to station base running club, and it becomes very difficult to score runs. For a station to station club that doesn’t take those extra bases, means they have to string together hits, or hit home runs to score runs. For clubs that can’t, normally don’t score much.
Another important factor in base running is the ability to go from first to third on hits, and or score from first or second base on a hit. There is a stat that calculates show often a club does this. It’s called hitting advancement with runners in scoring position, or HAR.
The 2013 Dodgers ranked 28th out of the 30 MLB teams in hitting advancement with runners in scoring position. Their score was a -7.00. That means the Dodgers took negative extra bases last year. But not just negative, seven bases under average. Which is Incredibly bad.
This season has been a tick better. In 2014, the Dodgers rank 21st out of the 30 MLB teams in HAR. The boys in blue are more closer to average with a -0.53 rating. Instead of being seven bases under average, the club is only about a half of a base under the average rating of 0.00. The Dodgers have had 37 advancement opportunities this season, which ranks them 17th. (The league average for advancement opportunities is around 35). Still going from 28 ranked, to 21 ranked is a big difference.
The point is, station to station clubs that only move up 90 feet at a time on hits, have a lot of trouble scoring runs. Tootblans are one thing, not taking those extra bases are another. Being a club that commits tootblans is ok. You can still win even with the occasional Tootblan annoyance. But a team never ever wants to be a station to station club.
The Dodgers still have a long way to go, but so far have improved considerably in this area of base running. Clubs that only move 90 feet at a time don’t score many runs.