First, let me apologize for that very mediocre headline, which would have been timely sometime in 2002.
Now that that's out of the way, the topic of this article is going to be stealing bases, and how good the Phillies have been at it so far this season.
First base coach and prodigious base stealer Davey Lopes was brought on board this offseason, purportedly to help a team with a propensity for running itself out of rallies smarten up on the basepaths. Additionally, he was supposed to help some of the team's speedsters, especially the blazing fast Shane Victorino, improve both the frequency and success rate of the bag swiping.
And while some of us (ahem) didn't have much good to say about the hiring of Lopes, the plan seems to be working. I don't know if we can ascribe all of their success to Lopes, but he certainly hasn't been hurting anything.
So far this season, the Phillies as a team have stolen 70 bases in 80 attempts for an outstanding 87.5% success rate. The leaders of the charge include Michael Bourn, a perfect 13 for 13 on the basepaths; Jimmy Rollins, a solid 15 for 18; and Shane Victorino, a phenomenal 27 for 29, including his last 23 in a row.
Victorino's improvement is the most noticeable. Prior to 2007, Shane was a mediocre 11 for 16 as a basestealer, despite foot speed that made him a high school track and field 100m record holder in his home state of Hawaii. His base stealing in the minors, while prolific, was disappointing
in terms of his success rate -- 182 in 251 attempts, a weak 72.5%.
Working on the assumption that a success rate of 75-80% is necessary to be an asset to a team over the course of the season, it's clear that thus far, something has been working. Led by Victorino, Rollins, and Bourn, and accompanied by the capable Chase Utley and Aaron Rowand, the Phillies have become a formidable threat on the basepaths, and maybe it's time to give Davey Lopes some credit. God knows he owes this city after those late 1970s playoff heartbreaks at the hands of his Los Angeles Dodgers.