By Shannon Drayer
A question I have had about the 2013 Mariners for some time now is how are they going to get anything extra on the bases? Yes, it would appear that they have added offense, but when you look at what could be the regular lineup, which most likely will have more than nine outfielders or first base/DH types rotating, you don’t see a lot of speed.
Base stealing, hit and run, going first to third, and taking the extra base on a throw all are things that add up to runs. The Angels, despite all of their thump in the lineup, are at or near the top in all of these categories. Texas was very good at it two years ago and fell off last year. Ron Washington has made it a focus again this year, also despite having plenty of power. It is an important part of the game and I have been wondering just how the Mariners were going to approach this.
First base/outfield/baserunning coach Mike Brumley was one of our guests Monday night on the Cactus League Report, and he shared with us a little bit of the team’s baserunning philosophy. While acknowledging that they did not have a lot of burners, he suggested that it may not be necessary to accomplish what they would like to on the basepaths.
“There is no difference between actual pressure and perceived pressure,” he explained, “so we try to give the perceived pressure as much as we can. Whether we are really thinking about running or hitting and running, we always want to look in those ways. If you can affect first the bench, the coaches on the other side, thinking ‘Hey, we have got to be aware. These guys are aggressive,’ if we can get those things in the league’s mind, that this is how we are going to play, then they will kind of help translate the pressure to the actual players. They start calling more action things, start running different defenses…if we can cause that kind of tempo change, nobody is comfortable with that.”
An example could be seen in Saturday’s game against Colorado. The team scored two runs off base hits finding holes that were created when infielders had to hold runners on because they were being aggressive with their leads. They may or may not have been thinking of stealing, but they did get the extra base anyway with the help of of the hitters who were able to take advantage of the openings the runners created. Of course the hitter has to do his part as well, but they are better equipped for this kind of situational hitting this year. It will be interesting to see how much they utilize it.
We haven’t seen a lot of running in the first two weeks as Eric Wedge has eased guys into playing on a regular basis, but we can expect to see more going forward.
Brumley’s explanation as well as visits with Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, Michael Saunders, Mike Blowers, Nick Franklin, Brad Miller and Charlie Furbush can all be heard on the podcast.