With the offense looking for improved consistency and a stretch where the entire core is firing on all cylinders, Padres skipper Jayce Tingler has had to get aggressive when it comes to manufacturing runs so far in April.
The most obvious way he’s done so is through the stolen base department. San Diego leads all MLB teams with 32 steals on the year – far and away the tops in baseball. The Kansas City Royals rank second with 22 stolen bases as a team.
It’s not like the Padres are out here running with reckless abandon, either. They’ve been successful on a staggering 82.1 percent of attempts this season. So not only do they lead the league in stolen bases, but they have been successful at an above-average rate.
Normally, you see a team rack up the stolen bases and it means you have a Billy Hamilton on the roster – one guy who seemingly steals bags at will. But that’s not the case with the Friars. In fact, six Padres players have at least three stolen bases already this season.
- Trent Grisham – 5
- Manny Machado – 5
- Wil Myers – 4
- Jurickson Profar – 4
- Fernando Tatis Jr. – 4
- Jake Cronenworth – 3
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In 60 games last season, San Diego stole 55 bases. They’re far and away on pace to exceed that total in the first 60 games of the 2021 campaign – entering play on Wednesday targeted for a whopping 128 steals if they can maintain their current pace.
Padres are manufacturing runs with steals
So why all the aggressiveness on the base paths? Easy. The team has no other way to push across runs right now.
San Diego ranks dead-last in baseball in terms of slugging percentage. If you subtract Tatis Jr.’s recent home run barrage, the team’s .356 clip would be even more awful in the grand scheme of things.
This has led the team to rely on the stolen base in ways you just don’t see in today’s game. Most teams are guided by offenses that do one of three things: walk, strike out or hit the ball out of the ballpark. Well, the team isn’t hitting the ball into the seats (or for extra-bases in general) – so the fact they rank second in the league in walks doesn’t carry as much weight. At least, it wouldn’t if not for the team’s work in the stolen base department.
It’s an admittedly small sample size – but I’ll be keeping an eye on the Padres to see if their running ways continue once the bats get rolling and the team’s sluggers start driving the ball all over the diamond.