New York Mets must start running and attempt more stolen bases
By Allen Settle
The New York Mets need to start running more and take advantage of the speed they have on their roster.
At the close of the 2007 MLB season, New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes accomplished a truly remarkable feat. He finished the campaign with an incredible 78 stolen bases. Reyes, a Mets legend in his own right, was one of the rare elite speed threats to suit up in orange and blue. His 408 stolen bases are by far the most in franchise history (Mookie Wilson ranks second with 281).
Players with Reyes’ skill set seem to be few and far between on the Mets roster since the speedster’s departure. The team ranked 20th in steals with 71 in 2018. They also ranked 27th in 2017, 28th in 2016, and second to last in 2015. The team has consistently elected to stock their roster with power hitters over speed.
This season, the team has a slight potential to improve in the stolen base category. The Mets’ most dangerous runner is Amed Rosario, who is projected to steal 22 bases this season. However, center fielder Keon Broxton (11) is the only other Met projected to steal double-digit bases.
New York attempted only 0.68 steals per game last season (ranking 14th in MLB). They finished 27th in 2017 and 29th in 2016. While manager Mickey Callaway has made baserunning more of a priority than former skipper Terry Collins, it still isn’t a major priority.
The solution to this issue is simple: attempt more stolen bases! The team has players who obviously shouldn’t be running in normal circumstances. Players like Robinson Cano, Wilson Ramos, Pete Alonso, and Dominic Smith come to mind. They do, however, have other players who can do damage on the base paths.
New York’s two fastest players should lead the charge. Advanced statistics show that Broxton was the 15th fastest player in baseball last season. Rosario also fared well ranking 25th overall. Both players should be given the green light to steal early and often.
Players like Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, and even Todd Frazier are also capable of swiping double digit bags. If Callaway is really committed to gaining an advantage on the base paths, the team also has the option of deploying dangerous pinch runners. Minor league players like Carlos Gomez and Rajai Davis would be useful options on the bench. Gomez stole 32 bases last season in Tampa Bay. Davis, on the other hand, managed 21 steals with Cleveland despite being 37 years old at the time.
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While baseball is clearly trending toward power hitting, there is still value in being strategic while base running. If the Mets were to get creative in their strategy, they could very well become a top-10 team in steals.