Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Ron Washington wants the Texas Rangers running
By Jean-Jacques Taylor
Ron Washington has changed the way the Rangers approach the game, and general manager Jon Daniels has provided the athletes to play Washington’s style.
Remember when the Rangers used to be the epitome of a station-to-station team, forever waiting for a homer to score runs?
Those days are long gone.
Few teams ran the bases better than the Rangers last season.
The Rangers took 157 bases on fly balls, passed balls, wild pitches, etc. last season.
Detroit (166) and Chicago (158) were the only AL teams with more. The Rangers went from first to third on a single 95 times. Only Minnesota did it more (100 times).
But the most important number is 46. That’s how many times the Rangers were thrown out on the bases, which was the third lowest number in the American League. The league average is 55 outs.
So no AL team runs the bases more than the Rangers, yet they're among the most difficult teams to throw out on the bases.
That’s a winning combination.
“We’re going to keep running the bases, but I want them to be more careful late in the game,” Washington said. “You can still be aggressive, but after the sixth inning you have to be 100 percent sure you can make it.
“Otherwise, you’re taking the bat out of the hands of Hamilton. Or Beltre. Or Young. Or Cruz. Or Napoli. Early in the game, we can live with it. Late in the game we can’t because we don't want pitchers to be able to run from our guys.”
A few days ago against Cleveland, Yangervis Solarte, filling in for Ian Kinsler, led off the third inning against Cleveland with a single to left, bringing Josh Hamilton to the plate. When pitcher Kevin Slowey bounced a ball to the plate, Solarte took off for second, though the ball was just a couple of feet from catcher Carlos Santana.
Solarte slid safely into second, moved to third on Hamilton’s groundout and scored on Adrian Beltre’s single to center.
“That’s what we do,” base-running coach Gary Pettis said. “We take bags. We’re always looking for an opportunity to run and make something happen, and we’re going to keep doing it. We like putting pressure on the defense.”