Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Will the real Twins base stealers, please stand up?

Twins fans have been spoiled in the last two seasons.

Ben Revere made base stealing look easy. Even Denard Span could swipe a base or two if the club needed it. Both of these men are in different uniforms to start the 2013 season. In fact, three of the top four base stealers from the 2012 Twins are no longer with the organization.

Last year the Twins stole 135 bases, which ranked first in the American League. In 2011, the club finished in 10 place in the AL with 92 stolen bases. The team only had 68 steals in 2010 and that was bad enough to rank 12th among the 14 AL clubs. It obviously helps to have Mr. Revere on your club for any part of a season.

Stealing bases is an art form. Unfortunately for the Twins, the club is going to have to find some different artists for the coming year.

Chris Parmelee was thrown out trying to steal second base in the late innings of Monday afternoon's game. This meant the Twins have only been successful in two of their six stolen base attempts. The current team leaders in steals are Trevor Plouffe and Parmelee with one steal apiece.

It is obvious that these two men aren't the fleetest of foot. So where are the steals going to come from for Minnesota?

One man the Twins will rely on for steals this year is Aaron Hicks. He has gotten the year off to a bad start and this has meant he has only been on base four times. If a batter isn't getting on base, he obviously isn't going to be able to rack up steal attempts. In his one attempted steal this year, he was thrown out pretty easily (see photo above).

Hicks had an outstanding year last season at Double-A and his solid offensive output was only helped by his ability to steal bases. He stole 32 bases last year and was caught stealing 11 times. Before last year, he had never had more than 21 steals so this was a step in the right direction.

The Twins can't just rely on Hicks for steals so there will have to be some other men to reek havoc on the base paths.

Darin Mastroianni had 21 steals in 24 attempts last season. These were very good numbers for someone that played in only 77 games. He has been hampered be a nagging injury from the end of spring training. When he is able to get back to being fully healthy, he could get more playing time and the chance to steal some more bases.

The middle infield core of Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon, and Eduardo Escobar has yet to join the steal parade. Dozier had nine steals for the Twins last season but in his last full season in the minors he took 24 bags. Florimon and Escobar have a track record of getting double digits in steals but they will have to be selective with when to take an extra base.

One dark horse when it comes to stealing bases could be Joe Mauer. He usually gets on base at one of the best rates in the AL and being on first base a lot can lead to some opportunities to swipe second. Mauer's athletic ability can always make him a threat but he has never stolen more than 13 bases. This could be the year for him to set a new career high.

Steals might be few and far between this year unless the Twins get some other players into their everyday line-up. The opportunity to swipe bags might be there but the club will need to be selective in sending some runners with less ability on the base paths.

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