As much as we talk about the Cubs’ lack of clutch hitting, adding speed to the lineup should be another point of emphasis this winter.
Speed is so valuable on both sides of the ball helping to create runs and taking them away. It’s a pressure point that rattles the opposition, forces mistakes and wins games.
While speed never seems to be undervalued, it’s often over-looked and underused, at least offensively. The good news, however, is as baseball further departs the steroid era the more the running game is being resurrected, which is exciting for baseball overall.
The Cubs stole four bases on Sunday leading to a 6-3 win against Pittsburgh. But it’s not very often we see the Cubs swiping bags. Chicago ranks 27th in stolen bags. Not very good.
Tony Campana is already a prolific base stealer having swiped 18 bases in 19 attempts, which is good for a 95% success rate, tops in the majors. Unfortunately, Campana isn’t a very good hitter, which keeps him on the bench most of the time.
That leaves Starlin Castro as the Cubs best everyday base stealer, his 20 swipes leading the club. But after Castro and Campana there’s a steep drop in the Cubs’ stolen base department.
Darwin Barney is third with 8, Marlon Byrd 3 and Soriano is tied with Reed Johnson with 2. All totaled the Cubs have 59 steals this season, that’s less than 0.5 steals per game.
Stealing bases has more to do than just speed, however, it’s a mentality. It’s an aggressive approach that bears a lot of risk–no one is safe all the time–but could also pay big dividends for a team like the Cubs struggling to score runs.
Adding more speed in the offseason is just half of the puzzle. Deciding to run more often is the other, which should certainly be taken into consideration when the Cubs choose it’s next GM and manager.