If you have been hanging around these parts for a while, you know that the model for this site is to tell you what the Rays have done, what they are doing and try to project what they will do based on what we have learned. Think of RI as “Tampa Bay Rays 101.”

However, for the next 12 days we will step away from the standard, and we present to you 12 “presents” the Tampa Bay Rays should give to their fans. Looking back at last year’s 12 Days of Raysmas, we see that many of our wishes came true. Many did not. If we can get a couple of more this year, the Rays might just win it all.

Without further ado…

On the second day of Raysmas, the Tampa Bay Rays gave to us, TWO PLAYERS WITH 40 STOLEN BASES…

The Rays did a lot of things right in 2011. But make no mistake, the inability of the Red Sox to even be mediocre in September covered up a lot of problems, especially on the offensive side of the ball. And one of those problems was speed.

After losing Carl Crawford to free agency, the Rays speed numbers took a significant dip in 2011…

If we look at the Rays stolen bases and their Speed Total (doubles + triples*2 + steals – double plays),  the Rays had their lowest totals since 2008, when Crawford was limited by an injury.

BJ Upton led the 2011 Rays with just 36 stolen bases. That was the first season without a player stealing 40 bases since 2002. And in 2009 and 2010, the Rays had two such players.

If the Rays can get full, healthy seasons out of Upton and Desmond Jennings, there is no reason the Rays can’t have two players with 40 steals. And if that happens, it will go a long ways towards reestablishing the Rays as a team that can win games on the base paths.

 
 

15 Comments

  1. Professor Twain says:

    Nice analysis. Despite the decline in speed related productivity related to losing CC, Rays were still best in AL in SBs, second best in GIDP and triples–but tied for 9th in doubles.

    CC was such a disruptive force, forcing wild throws and changing the atmosphere of games. Amazing how being a Red Sox dampened his running game.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      But if you are not going to be a team that mashes the ball, just leading the AL with 2 more steals than the Royals is probably not going to cut it. In 2010, they had 12 more than the next best team. And in 2009, they had 45 more than any other team. If the Rays aren’t going to spend money on home runs (and that is not an efficient way to spend $$), they have to dominate on the base paths.

  2. Andy says:

    Totally agree about potential of both Upton & Jennings getting 40+ SB’s! If they’re at the top of the order that would really be gr8!! Especially if we get wish #1 :-)

    The flip side of this is that w/Jose Melina behind the plate & tutoring whoever is behind him on the depth chart, we’ll give up a lot less on the bases than in past! And, we won’t be facing him either – if memory serves, he terrorized us whenever we tried to run on him!!

  3. RedBull says:

    Chances are very good that this will be the last chance at us having 2 guys with the opportunity to steal 40 bases. Hopefully, we can reap the benefits of Upton having a great contact year. Maybe he’ll go off to the tune of .270 with 25 HR, 85 RBI, and 50 SB’s? I think those are reasonably attainable expectations from him. And then he’ll go off into his career and be out of our hair forever. I like Jennings to steal 70 bases this year…just a hunch. Then, we’ll be forgetting all about Upton and his antics.

  4. Don says:

    The day Upton Avgs ….270 would have to be after spending a significant amount of time with a hitting coach that knew what he was doing and after he watched Uptons swing for about two games….It would be easy…Maybe in Washington?

  5. Joe says:

    First of all, I am gonna say Upton’s #’s will be awesome in every stat area for one big reason: It’s his contract year

    Upton and Jennings should have no problem stealing 40 and we do not have to test Jose Molina’s arm!

  6. Don says:

    Hey Pete get your “advanced metrics” out and see who struck out the most in the “last 6 weeks” Upton, pena,or shoppach..I’m just trying to figure out who the best contact man is? Having a strike out man that hits .220 batting 2nd is a stroke of genius… I have to admit…because no other manager has ever thought of it

    • pete says:

      Okay Don. First off this so called batting average you keep harping on has now become a useless stat. Look how often he gets on base. Secondly Upton has been a 4 WAR player pretty much always. Don, get your head out of your ass.

  7. RedBull says:

    For Upton, I think it’s pretty simple..if he doesn’t have a decent season going by June, we’ll be looking for what we can get for him. I think he will have a lot to lose if he doesn’t have a great year. I won’t be surprised either way, but for the Rays’ sake, I hope he has a breakout year. If he does that, I think we have a hell of a chance at winning a ring!

  8. Brianknowsbest says:

    Cork,
    Is there a COMBINED accurate way to read how much upton gets called out on the base paths(stolen base attempts, pick offs, and called out on trying to advance to a base). I imiagine its not even close when it comes to upton and the rest of the league. I may be wrong, but it sure seems like he has the worst baserunning instincts in baseball.

    • Tom says:

      According to the Bill James abstract, he was out advancing on ther bases 5 times, doubled off twice and caught stealing 12 times. His performance was not the worst in the majors but it was not good either. Interestingly, his brother went the entire season without being caught advancing or doubled off.

      • Brianknowsbest says:

        Thanks man. But thats got to be inaccurate, I know ive seen him caught advancing more than that, I ve seen him have the cycle of being thrown out in 2 games.

  9. Don says:

    Gee Pete…Now you interested in my Ass…Upton may be a War player but he is not a professional hitter, but would be OK at # 8.. hard to leave men on base there..strike out expected….
    Just think Pena, Shoppach our other Strike out artists, yes no batting Avg. which you dont like, are both cut and released, Upton will be our highest paid player, go figure that out, maybe metrics, huh?

    • pete says:

      Don i’m not sure if you’re a Rays fan or not but just try looking at the big picture. Upton was the 27th most valuable player in the American League last year and the 4th most valuable CF using Wins Above Replacement.

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