We saw how successful the Royals were in Tuesday night’s American League wild card game because of their running game. The Royals stole seven bases during that 12-innning classic duel that ended with the Royals beating Oakland by a 9-8 score. Stealing bases, and taking extra bases can be a huge advantage for clubs, especially in the playoffs.
As for our Dodgers, their running game will be constantly tested throughout their National League Division Series against the Cardinals. Why will the Dodger’s speedsters be tested? Two words: Yadier Molina.
The Redbird’s catcher has been prolific in throwing out base runners over the years. We saw first hand what he is capable of doing in last year’s NLCS loss. If Molina is healthy he has one of the strongest throwing arms in all of Baseball. The Dodgers have to be cautious.
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Molina has led the National league in throwing out base runners four times during his career. (2005- 64%, 2007- 54%, 2010-49%, 2014- 48%). Molina again led the league in caught stealing percentage by throwing out 21 of 44 would be base stealers. Molina has a career average of 45%. The league average is 28%. That’s about twice as high as the league average in nailing base runners trying to steal.
Not only that, but the Cardinal’s pitching staff has been exceptional at holding runners on base. Led by ace Adam Wainwright, the St. Louis hurlers are quick to the plate, and work well with Molina in halting the running game.
But Molina will have his hands full the entire series. The Dodgers finished second in the majors in stolen bases with 138 steals. They finished second to only the Royals. Dee Gordon led the majors in stolen bases with 64. Gordon’s stolen base percentage was astronomical. However he isn’t the only guy that can steal bases on the Dodgers.
Here’s something else to consider. The Tootblans. The Dodgers seem to make a lot of risky mistakes on the base paths. The Dodgers led the league with 82 verified Tootblans in 2014.
It will be interesting to see if manager Don Mattingly will allow Gordon and Crawford to test Molina, or if he will play it safe. Can the Dodgers run Molina and the Redbirds ragged? Or will Molina stop their running game? Will the Dodgers be aggressive on the base paths?
Here’s something else to take into consideration. The Cardinals are a bunch of dinosaurs. They don’t run at all. The Cardinals finished 28th in MLB with just 57 stolen bases.
You know what they say, speed never takes a day off, even during October.