This offseason, I speculated that the Orioles would be more aggressive on the base paths in 2013. Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com wrote an interesting piece on Buck Showalter expecting the Orioles to steal more bases due to a pickoff rule change put into place this year.
In case you haven’t noticed, the Birds are one of the most base stealing-happy teams in the league. As of this morning, they’re tied for the AL lead in stolen bases with 29 (one base every 1.34 games). Last season the Orioles stole the fewest bases in all of baseball (58 or a stolen base every 2.79 games)
The Birds have been caught steal seven times this season.
This aggression nearly earned them a victory in Tuesday’s game against the San Diego Padres. Ryan Flaherty, the surprising opposite homer hitting hero, drew a walk in the bottom of the eighth with the score tied at one. Showalter pinch ran for Flaherty with Alexi Casilla, who stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Padres catcher Nick Hundley. The next batter, Steve Pearce, drove in Casilla with a single to left.
Good guys up 2-1 thanks to some fierce base running.
It’s not like San Diego didn’t see it coming. Casilla is 26-for-27 in career stolen base attempts.
This type of play is nothing new to the Orioles this season, but compared to their approach last year it’s dramatically different. Showalter is taking advantage of his speedy players. Nate McLouth (12 stolen bases) is just one behind Jacoby Ellsbury for the AL lead.