This is the most glaring problem the Dodgers have had since I can remember, or more aptly since the departure of Dee Gordon: the Dodgers don’t steal bases.
The team has just one successful steal this season (thank you Cody Bellinger), putting them in the bottom three teams in baseball to start the season. Since the Dodgers began their six-season NL West title run, they are 18th in baseball in team steals, and over the past two full seasons, even without a big base stealer, the team was 19th in baseball.
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But this team should steal even fewer bases than past iterations. Over the past few seasons, Yasiel Puig, a consistent 15-steal threat and Chris Taylor have led the team in steals with 30 and 26 respectively. Puig is now in Cincinnati though, and Taylor will see even fewer at-bats this season than he has in seasons past now that Kike Hernandez, albeit deservingly, has taken over much of his playing time.
The team’s only other player with double-digit steals in a season over the last two seasons is Bellinger. New addition A.J. Pollock should add steals, as he has compiled 33 over the past two partial seasons with the Dbacks. But the Dodgers are known to be stingy on the basepaths, and more importantly to be stingy with pushing their injury prone players. Pollock and Bellinger combined will likely steal fewer than 40 bases, and no one else on the team is likely to threaten more than 10.
The Dodgers, especially the 2019 version featuring Kike and Alex Verdugo, should be stealing more than a base a week. They simply have too many baserunners not to be stealing. In games where the difference is just one run, and sometimes just one stranded runner, the Dodgers need to be pushing the envelope.
Quick, smart players should be encouraged to steal, as should be wily veterans like Justin Turner. It, just like walks and singles, puts added pressure on defenses and on pitchers, forcing the other team not only to deal with a formidably powerful lineup but also with one that can take the extra base and manufacture the extra run.
Over the last two seasons, the Red Sox, Brewers, and Astros all are amongst the top 12 teams in baseball in stolen bases. Other league powerhouses, like the Indians (5th) and Yankees (17th) find themselves ahead of the 19th-ranked Dodgers. If the team can work to add a steals threat to their roster, hopefully, just by coaching and not by adding another cog to the crowded offense, the Dodgers would become hands down the most complete offense in all of baseball.