Here’s an interesting facet of the 2009 season so far: The Phillies have not run.
In the past two seasons, the Phils have been far and away the major leagues’ best team in regards to stolen base efficiency. If you remember, they broke the major league record for stolen base percentage in 2007. Yet in 2009, the Phils have stolen exactly two bases. By one man (Chase Utley).
One can easily point to the amount of time Jimmy Rollins (the team’s leading swiper) has been on base in 2009 (six times). Still, co-swipers Shane Victorino possesses a respectable .353 on-base percentage early on, and Jayson Werth has been on base at a .419 clip. Yet both players have no steals.
This aspect of the Phils offense was seen in glorious HD at the end of the Atlanta series and beginning of the Colorado series. They’d reach base, stall and fail to score. Early in the season – when bats are supposedly slowed by the arctic air chilling in from the north – it’s important to manufacture runs in sometimes unorthodox ways. Stealing bases and setting up for sacrifices and singles are the best methods of scoring, as we know. And it’s not as if Phillie hitters aren’t putting the ball in play (their 35 strikeouts are by far the league lowest).
For the Phillies to endure the cold month of April and come out with an even better winning percentage than .571, running and setting up for scoring will be an essential missive. No better time than to start in Washington, with a spacious outfield that allows for plenty of easy scoring opportunities.