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Michael Bourn and the Indians aren’t running much under Terry Francona

Aug 26, 2013, 11:51 AM EDT

Michael Bourn, Alcides Escobar AP

In previewing the Indians during spring training I wrote about how Terry Francona’s previous teams rarely did much running and suggested that “it’ll be interesting to see if the manager adapts to the skill sets he has on hand” in Cleveland.

Michael Bourn was a big part of that, signing with the Indians after stealing an average of 51 bases per season from 2008-2012. This year, however, Bourn has swiped just 19 bases in 101 games while being caught a league-high 10 times and the Indians as a whole rank sixth in the American League in steals despite having plenty of high-steal players on the roster.

I have no idea how much of that stems from Francona’s general mindset regarding stolen bases, but Bourn’s sudden inability to add value as a runner is pretty interesting in the first year of a four-year, $48 million contract. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer asked Francona about why Bourn isn’t running as much or as effectively, and “in Francona’s opinion pitchers are just paying more attention to Bourn in particular and the running game overall.”

I’m fairly certain that pitchers always paid a lot of attention to Bourn while he was stealing 50-plus bases per season, so that probably qualifies as a non-answer answer.

  1. burm61 - Aug 26, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    Bourn tries to steal at the worst times and tries to steal third way too damn much

  2. 18thstreet - Aug 26, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    Public service announcement: The Indians won 42 percent of their games last year. Tito rocks.

  3. wheels579 - Aug 26, 2013 at 1:03 PM

    Ellsbury had two seasons of at least 50 SB under Francona, and a total of 120 over those two years. Bourn’s low totals seem to be more about Bourn than Francona.

  4. hammyofdoom - Aug 26, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    I will say that even though Francona has had good basestealing years under his management (See the above comment about Ellsbury), but he does have a style that I think can hinder certain stealers. He doesn’t really give them the green-light to run or red-light to NOT run, but instead he gives them a sign that’s essentially “Run if you want”. I can’t remember exactly when I heard him say this, but I know I heard him speak about this in an interview.

    I think for some players, like Ellsbury that’s FANTASTIC, the guy likes to run and will find any excuse to make a pitcher or catcher look silly. However, maybe for a guy like Bourne or Crawford you need to tell them when to run and then they’ll do it. Just a thought.

  5. MLBlogsbig3bosox - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    It’s worth noting that Jason Kipnis has 23 steals in 29 attempts so I doubt Tito is the one holding him back since Bourn is regarded as the faster one.

  6. rje49 - Aug 26, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    All I can say is I’m glad Francona sent Dave Roberts into the game specifically to steal second base in game 4 of the 2004 ALCS. It became the single most important stolen base in baseball history. So I guess Terry can pick his spots.

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