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Speed Kills – When You Don’t Use It

Two weeks ago we mentioned how the Phils would do well to increase their stolen base quota.  They have been winning, that’s for sure, but the stolen bases are still low.  Recent events – the recalling of Chris Roberson and Shane Victorino’s increased playing time – have greatly increased the speed of the current Phillies lineup; however, the team is still not swiping bases to the extent they have in the past.  Over the last three years the Phillies have gradually increased their stolen base attempts. 

Stolen Bases Attempted
2003 (Bowa): 101
2004 (Bowa): 127
2005 (Manuel): 143

This year the Phillies are on pace to reach just 113 attempts.  They are 13th in the league with 18 SBs, 9th in the league with 8 CS, and 11th in the league with a 69.2 SB%.  On the other hand, the team is tops in the league with only one pickoff.  This would be consistent with a conservative approach to baserunning.  In general though, the Phillies have been excellent base runners, save for a few Pat Burrell gaffes in the beginning of the season.  With that, though – and this is especially true with Victornio and Rollins – they are able to stretch singles into doubles and thus negate the need for the some stolen basses.

Individually, only Rollins (6), Abreu (5), Rowand (4), and Utley (3) have recorded stolen bases this season.  Just add David Dellucci to that list to get the Phillies that have even attempted a stolen base.  Shane Victorino has 10 singles and 2 walks yet not a single stolen base attempt.  Could this be something to pin on Charlie Manuel’s poor managing?  I wouldn’t say so, since last year he let the Phillies fly around the bases almost at will.  The Phillies are winning, so this isn’t a slight on the way they win or anything, just something noticeable.  When coupled with the decline in defensive performance, this just goes to show that this isn’t the Phillies squad of last season…and that might not be a bad thing.

One final note, Aaron Rowand held a press conference yesterday to show off his new face (warning, the picture by H. Rumph Jr. of the AP is not pretty).  The conference, while some feel it wasn’t completely necessary, really showed off Rowand’s class and commitment.  He said the right things and by far the best line was a throwback to Ricky Watters.  Aaron recalled, "For who, for what?  For who? My teammates.  For what?  To win."  He went on to say he thinks his attitude can be contagious.  It certainly can and in fact it seems the Phillies and fans have already caught the bug.

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