In 2009, the Yankees were middling in the stolen bases category (at least at first glance). They stole 111 bases, seventh in the American League. However, the Yankees were successful in their stolen base attempts 80% of the time, six percent better than the league average (74%).
No player was caught stealing more than five times (both Jeter and Gardner), but even they had high stolen base percentages (86% and 84% respectively). Johnny Damon was never caught stealing (12 SBs), and A-Rod and Melky were both caught only 2 times each (88 and 83 percent). The 2009 Yankees didn’t run all that often, but when they did, they made it safely. This running strategy is much more effective, especially considering the team, than just running whenever and risking unnecessary outs.
While the Yankees lost a good runner in Johnny Damon, they gained two good runners in Curtis Granderson and Randy Winn. Over the past three seasons, both have been very efficient on the basepaths. Winn’s averaged 19 steals and 2 caught stealings and Granderson has averaged 19 steals and 4 caught stealings. Those equate to a 90.48 success rate for Winn and an 82.61 success rate for Granderson. Add in the fact that Brett Gardner (86.67% for his short career) will likely get more time at the plate and (hopefully) on the bases, and the Yankees should again have a strong stolen-base game. They are a team built on efficiency–they get on base and hit lots of homers, the most efficient ways to score runs; they have a high amount of strikeout pitchers, the best way to get hitters out–and the running game is now a part of that. With runners who don’t get caught, the Yankees are simply adding another piece of ammunition to the firearm that is their offense.
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