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What's in a steal? 2010 SB trends emerging

10/2/2010

Speed might play the biggest role when it comes to stealing bases, but that doesn’t mean players don’t have their special tendencies. For example, Derek Jeter was 14-for-14 when attempting to steal on the first pitch last season, while Ichiro Suzuki made only three attempts in that situation. Everyone is different, so what are some of the interesting trends popping up so far in 2010?

Michael Bourn
Bourn, like the Houston Astros, got off to a slow start in 2010. Bourn stole 61 bases in 73 attempts last year (83.6 percent), but through April 18 he was only 1-for-2. That all changed when the Astros hosted the Florida Marlins, and Bourn got to face his favorite catcher.

In 2009, Bourn went 7-for-7 in steal attempts with John Baker behind the plate. Although they play in different divisions, Bourn attempted more steals against Baker than any other catcher in the league. (Josh Bard faced the second-most attempts from Bourn with five.)

So it should come as no surprise that in a three-game series against the Marlins, Bourn went 4-for-4 in stolen-base attempts ... all with Baker catching.

Rajai Davis
Last season, Davis was an equal-opportunity stealer, running on left-handers almost as often as he did right-handers. Of his 2009 attempts, 41.5 percent were against lefties, which was the highest percentage of the 40-plus stolen-base club . So far in 2010, that trend is continuing.

Davis is a perfect 8-for-8 in steal attempts in 2010, and four of them have been against lefties.

One other fun trend with Davis: Last year the A’s went 26-12 (.684) in games in which Davis stole a base. This year they are 6-1 (.857) when Davis steals a base. Since 2009, they are a combined 53-81 (.396) when he doesn’t record a steal.

Nyjer Morgan
In 2009, Morgan tied for the league lead with Chone Figgins in times caught stealing, as each was caught 17 times in 59 attempts. Morgan is 4-for-7 in steal attempts this season, and he’s second only to Matt Kemp in times caught stealing (four times). Perhaps Morgan should rethink his approach a bit.

Last year Morgan was 7-for-12 (58.3 percent) when stealing against lefties and 35-for-47 (74.5 percent) when stealing against right-handed pitchers. In 2010, Morgan is just 1-for-3 (33.3 percent) against lefties and 3-for-4 (75.0 percent) against righties.

Carl Crawford
In 2009, only 11.8 percent of all of Crawford’s stolen-base attempts came against lefties. Considering he was just 4-for-9 (44.4 percent) in those situations, it’s probably a good thing he chose to run primarily against righties. This season, though, Crawford is getting a little more aggressive.

Crawford is 7-for-8 on the whole this season and is already 2-for-3 against lefties. Last year, Crawford didn’t take his third steal attempt against a lefty until June 6.

On Friday, Tim Kurkjian discussed how steals of third base are becoming more and more common. No one better exemplifies that than Crawford, who has already stolen third base successfully on all three of his attempts this season. Last season, he didn't steal third base for the third time until July 8. He was 5-for-9 when stealing third base in 2009, and that made only up 11.8 percent of his attempts and 8.3 percent of his successes.