Does speed nullify weak statistics?

Speed on the bases is an asset that any manager would love to have. A burner at first keeps the pitcher nervous, can get into scoring position, and ease the manufacture of runs. But looking at a few of the MLB leaders in steals, you wonder if having this luxury of speed on the bases is worth the atrocious numbers at the plate.

OF Michael Bourn-Houston Astros

Bourn is the current MLB leader in steals at a perfect 13 for 13. He is undoubtedly one of the fastest players around, his 2004 season at A Lakewood when he stole 57 of 63 is evidence. His 2007 in Philadelphia showed some promise at the plate with a .277 over 105 games and a sturdy .348 OBP. Again, he was almost perfect with 18 steals and one caught stealing. But this year, he is off to a weak start at the plate batting .216. On the positive side, he has 10 BB so far, contributing to a .310 OBP. It would be nice to see him get that average up because he has the speed of the prototypical lead off man, he has shown he can take a walk, and past performance suggests that he can bump up the batting average and be one of the league’s most dangerous men on the bases.

OF Carlos Gomez-Minnesota Twins

Carlos Gomez is an absolute speed demon, but wow, for a guy touted as a “five-tool” player (minus the power so I guess four), this guy is off to a horrendous start. He has been a total liability at the plate. His OBP of .247 is unacceptable at the top of the Twins lineup. Perhaps the ugliest stat of the first month of the season is Gomez’s K/BB ratio. 24 K and 2 BB (second only to SS Bill Hall with 26 K and 2 BB, but apples and oranges since Hall hits the ball sometimes). I am definitely not sold in the least bit on Gomez. I don’t care if he’s 9 for 10 on steals this year because that speed is not doing much walking back to the dugout. Get really good at bunting and just do that every time. Is the cure for the Wobegon batting .230? Get it together because we don’t want to see you turn into Alex Escobar.

OF Joey Gathright-Kansas City Royals

Gathright is another speedster who needs to get it together at the plate. Gathright is about as entertaining as a baseball player can be on the bases. He has wide receiver speed and he can jump over fielders and cars. That’s pretty damn cool. The main beef I have with Gathright, and many other speedy guys, is in the walks department. Take some pitches please.

These three guys are still young and have time to fix some things in their game and become hot commodities. If they can combine the offensive portion of their game with the speed and base running ability they already possess, then we are looking at a nice crop of classic lead off men. Speed is a great tool, but you can’t steal a base when you get out every time. In the meantime, these managers should let these guys find their ways offensively by leaving them in the lineup, despite substandard numbers.

Explore posts in the same categories: Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins

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