Base Stealing 2014

I was about to write a piece about the Sox loss of base-stealing ability with the departure of Jacoby Ellsbury. However, it appears that Conor Duffy of Bosoxinjection.com beat me to it.
 
I agree with Conor (who is young enough to be my grandson) that Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia will have to make up for Ellsbury. Whether they can do so I am not so sure.
 
Statistically, Victorino has the best chance. In 10 years in the majors with 3 teams, the Flyin' Hawaiian has averaged 30 steals over 162 games with only 6 CS's. Four times he topped the 35 mark. His numbers last year might have been higher had it not been for Ellsbury's presence in the leadoff spot. A problem exists, however. Victorino had offseason thumb surgery and has played just 18 innings with a .167 average. Pedroia will probably stay in the 20-range. Duffy also mentions that Jackie Bradley Jr and Xander Bogearts have worked on base-stealing in the offseason, but their contribution will probably be limited.
 
Conor points out that "speed is a more valuable asset than ever given the absence of it around the league". He mentions that sabermetrics had made teams less willing to make unnecessary outs on the basepaths. Given this situation, a man like Ellsbury, who can produce runs several times during a game, is hugely important. It is unlikely that the Sox would even have made it to the ALCS without him.
 
The Townies' stolen base totals will definitely fall in 2014. So far this spring, they have only 9- the leader is Brock Holt with 3. But there is speed on the roster, and it needs to be utilized. Bunting and hit-and-run were not generally part of John Farrell's agenda in 13, but perhaps now is the time to try. For example, Grady Sizemore was a dangerous base-stealer before injuries slowed him. He most likely possesses smarts on the bases, however, and that could help, especially if his spring training OBP continues to be high.
 
The days of the "station to station" Sox are over. Ellsbury, Johnny Damon, Coco Crisp and others showed how speed on the bases can make a difference. The challenge of Farrell and the Sox is to utilize it in 2014.

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