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Reds manager Bryan Price wants his team to be aggressive on the bases

Feb 22, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

Billy Hamilton Getty Images

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick notes that the Reds’ 67 stolen bases as a team last season was the franchise’s lowest total since 1971. Shin-Soo Choo, now a Ranger, led the team with 20 stolen bases but was inefficient, needing 31 attempts to do so. Billy Hamilton ranked second on the team with 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts, and he was a September call-up.

Hamilton was a prolific base stealer in the Minors, stealing 75 last season, 155 in 2012, and 103 in 2011. He’s expected to be the team’s everyday center fielder and lead-off man in 2014.

Manager Bryan Price wants to team to be more aggressive on the bases, and he isn’t just talking about Hamilton. From Crasnick:

“I know that we need to be able to create scoring opportunities, especially in that bottom third of our lineup,” Price said. “Being station to station didn’t give us as many opportunities to score as I would have liked. We have to be somewhat creative.”

Two candidates to run more often in 2014: Shortstop Zack Cozart and third baseman Todd Frazier.

Price added, “When we talk about being aggressive on the bases, it means working hard on your secondary leads, understanding where the fielders are, and knowing the game situation and score in the inning.”

Despite the reputation, the Reds were baseball’s seventh-best base running team according to Baseball Prospectus. Cozart was by far the team’s most productive runner, adding seven runs, five more than Jay Bruce in second place.

  1. js20011041 - Feb 23, 2014 at 8:07 AM

    If I were a Reds fan, I don’t know whether I would be encouraged or discouraged by Price’s statement. On the one hand, I’m leery of anyone who says “we need to run more” rather than “we need to run more efficiently.” Running only helps an offense if you’re not wasting large numbers of outs on the bases. On the other hand, his comment about the bottom third of the order should be encouraging. I’ve long believed that, depending on depth of the lineup, small ball should be more reserved for the bottom of the lineup where your weaker hitters reside. It serves very little purpose to steal 2nd base in front of a power hitter. If done efficiently in the bottom part of the lineup however, you have a chance to add a little bit of offensive value.

    • tomnickle - Feb 23, 2014 at 10:51 AM

      I am a Reds fan and couldn’t be happier about the statement provided they follow through on the statement. I’d far rather see Phillips and Cozart stealing more than see Dusty Baker put the hit and run on with Ryan Haningan(.100 ish batting average) at the plate.

      • js20011041 - Feb 23, 2014 at 11:13 AM

        The Reds don’t have the personnel. Cozart has 4 stolen bases in his career and didn’t attempt a single stolen base last year, which is shocking for a young up the middle player. Phillips was only 5 of 8 last year (62%) and is 72% for his career. Heisey was 3 for 3 (72% career). Frazier was 6 for 11 (58% career). Bruce was 7 of 10 (58% career). Maybe Cozart or Heisey can run and for whatever reason, they just haven’t shown it yet. But in terms of players that we know can steal effectively, Billy Hamilton is it. The gains from the running game only come if you are stealing effectively. If not, you’re wasting outs.

      • spudchukar - Feb 23, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        As a Cards fan I hope they run every chance they get.

  2. 14thinningstretch - Feb 23, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    I think if I were managing the Reds I’d tell Billy Hamilton to go whenever he thinks he can and tell everyone else to sit tight. I also think that a better way of getting scoring opportunities out of the bottom part of the order would be to encourage patience at the plate rather than “being creative”, which sounds like a prelude to the Reds running themselves out of a lot of innings.

    • timburns116 - Feb 24, 2014 at 9:39 PM

      The “we play in a small park, let’s not wate outs” is lost on him?

  3. 78mu - Feb 23, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    So Price wants his players to work on secondary leads, understand where the fielders are, and knowing the game situation and score in the inning.

    I would hope all players on every team works on those things. You don’t need Hamilton’s speed to know where the fielders are positioned. And having a 3rd base coach that knows the capabilities of opposing outfielders and his runners is essential.

  4. yordo - Feb 23, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    Give those pitchers the green light.

  5. themanytoolsofignorance - Feb 23, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    MLB managers seem to be taking their dumb & dumber pills the last few days. A better plan might be to make Joey Votto assistant hitting coach. Have him teach that crop of SO artists some plate discipline. Other than that unless your name is “Hamilton, William R” DO NOT STEAL.

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