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Thursday, January 2, 2014
Ranger Resolutions: Run the bases better

By Richard Durrett

Note: This week, we're running a series titled "Ranger Resolutions" as we look at some things the Texas Rangers hope to do better in 2014.

Today's resolution: Run the bases better

When the Rangers were busy putting up impressive back-to-back World Series appearances, they did it, in part, with an aggressive, versatile offense. Texas could hit the long ball, but they could move runners over, put pressure on the opponent with their feet and they didn't hesitate to take advantage of any little opportunity to move up a base.

Perhaps because opponents recognized it was such a weapon in 2010 and 2011 combined with the fact that the Rangers didn't do as good a job of running the bases smartly the past two years, that part of their game hasn't been as productive.

That said, it's worth pointing out that 2013 was a much better season than 2012 on that front. Texas was second in the league in 2013 in stolen bases with 149. They were fifth in steal percentage in the AL. In 2012, Texas had just 91 stolen bases and was 13th in the league in steal percentage.

But stolen bases are only part of the story when it comes to running bases. Scoring runs can depend on going from first to third or getting that extra base on a dirt ball. While the Rangers did better in 2013 than they did the previous year in those categories, it's still something they must improve upon. Too often they ran into outs on the bases, either through pickoffs or not picking the best time to steal.

Rangers runners were picked off 18 times in 2013, putting them in the bottom half of the AL. That, though, was an improvement from 2012, when they were picked off a league-worst 29 times. Texas did improve its rate of going from first to third at 30.1 percent, according to Jeremy Mills at ESPN Stats & Information, but that still wasn't as good a percentage as 2010 or 2011.

There's a fine line between being smart and being too aggressive and the Rangers haven't towed that line as well the past few seasons as they did during the World Series years. It's something manager Ron Washington and running coach Gary Pettis will be stressing this spring.