Terry Collins hasn’t had a stolen base threat on his roster since his first season helming the Mets, when he managed Jose Reyes. Andres Torres was the closest thing to a prototypical speedster on the Mets’ 2012 squad, and a combination of injuries and ineffectiveness led to him stealing just 13 bases. David Wright led the team with 15 swipes.
For Collins, however, a renewed focus on speed this spring doesn’t necessarily mean a commitment to stealing bases – the Mets have only attempted 19 steals this spring, tied for 19th among MLB teams – but instead an emphasis on being better base runners.
“Two outs, runner on second base and there’s a single, we have to score,” Collins said last month. “We cannot be holding runners up.”
“I don’t care if we get thrown out every game. They need to know what kind of leads they need to get to the next base.”
But perhaps Collins should limit the scope of his intended improvement to one area of the baserunning game.
The Mets actually did quite well in many baserunning aspects during the 2012 season.
-- They took an extra base 42 percent of the time, above the MLB average of 41 percent and good for the eighth-best rate in baseball, fifth best in the National League.
-- Mets players scored from first on a double 46 percent of the time, the 11th-best rate in MLB, seventh-best in the NL.
-- They were superb at scoring from second on a single – an area Collins specifically expressed a need to be aggressive in – scoring 66.8 percent of the time, the second-best rate in baseball, behind only the Angels, and the best rate in the NL.
But the Mets were not so proficient when going at least first-to-third on a single. Their rate of 26.2 percent was fifth worst in MLB and fourth worst in the NL. Only the Dodgers (25.0), Giants (25.0), Brewers (22.8) and Tigers (22.2) were less effective.
Turning into molasses between first and third base didn’t seem to hurt the Giants or Tigers, of course, who met in the World Series. However, a mesmerizing pitching staff (Giants) or fearsome lineup (Tigers) tends to negate other, inferior parts of a team’s game.
When you have neither (Mets), it’s not an option to skirt some of the fundamentals.
Collins seems to realize this. But is he focusing on the right area?