Saturday, July 20, 2013

Band On The Run

AP Photo by Frank Franklin II

Since Jose Reyes left town to be part of the Marlins' semi-annual fire sale, the Mets have not been very dependent on the stolen base.  The team stole just 79 bases in 2012.  It was the first time since 2003 (the year Reyes was called up to the big leagues) that the Mets failed to steal 100 bases in a season.

Over the first two and a half months of the 2013 campaign, the Mets' lethargy on the bases continued, as the team stole 29 bases in their first 67 games - a 70-steal pace over 162 games.  But then the Mets acquired Eric Young, Jr. from the Colorado Rockies in mid-June, and the team became a band on the run.

Since Young played his first game for the Mets on June 19, the team has stolen 25 bases in 26 games.  Not only are the Mets stealing more bases, they're doing it with an incredible success rate.  Through June 18 (the pre-Young days), the Mets stole 29 bases in 43 attempts for a 67.4% success rate.  The last time the Mets had a lower stolen base success rate was in 2001, when utility player Desi Relaford led the team with 13 steals.  (The team stole 66 bases in 114 attempts in 2001 - a 57.9% success rate.)

Once Young donned a Mets jersey for the first time, the team was off and running (and smarter, too).  In 26 games since June 19, New York has stolen 25 bases in 35 attempts for a 71.4% success rate.  Today marked the sixth time in the last ten games that the Mets stole at least two bases.  Prior to Young's arrival, the Mets had six games with two or more steals all year.

Young himself has swiped ten bags since he became a Met, but the rest of team has followed in his speedy footsteps, specifically Daniel Murphy, who is 7-for-7 in stolen base attempts since June 19.

The focus on stolen bases as an offensive weapon has given the Mets a new dimension to their game.  Not coincidentally, it has also given them a few more wins.  Including today's 5-4 win over the Phillies, the Mets have gone 15-11 since Eric Young, Jr. joined the Mets.  Without question, his arrival has helped invigorate a moribund team.

Prior to June 19, the Mets were a station-to-station team who depended mostly on the long ball to score runs.  (Remember the team-record 12-game homer streak to start the season?)  They still hit home runs (14 homers in their last 14 games), but now they can beat you with their legs as well.

After a 25-40 start, the Mets have used their wings to fly from base to base, making them a true band on the run.  Let's see if their new offensive weapon can take them running up the NL East standings as well.

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