Eric Young Jr. fits Orioles' goal for more aggressive baserunning - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

Eric Young Jr. fits Orioles’ goal for more aggressive baserunning

Photo credit: Jonathan Dyer - USA Today Sports

SARASOTA, Fla.—Manager Brandon Hyde has made aggressive baserunning a priority, and the Orioles have a trio of proven base-stealers.

Jonathan Villar, who was acquired last July, stole 62 bases in 2016 and last year combined for 35 with Milwaukee and the Orioles.

Two players acquired this week, Eric Young Jr. and Alcides Escobar, also have solid stolen base resumes. Young, who reported today, stole 46 in 2013 and 30 in 2014. Escobar swiped 35 in 2012 and 31 in 2014. The 32-year-old Escobar could report on Monday. Young and Escobar signed minor league contracts.

“E.Y. has got a lot of experience and has always been a good baserunner,” Hyde said. “That’s a big add. Escobar has been in big situations, been at the top of the lineup in World Series’ moments running the bases.”

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Last year, with Villar (21), Jace Peterson (13) and Craig Gentry (12) on the team, the Orioles stole 81 bases.

“Running and creating havoc on  the bases is always going to create more opportunities, not only for the baserunner, but also for the hitters behind,” Young said.

“You’re going to get better pitches to hit because now that pitcher’s attention is divided, and then, obviously, if you get better pitches to hit, you put up more runs.”

The stolen base is not a favorite of the analytic crowd. With the Orioles moving more in the sabermetric direction, it’s interesting that they’ve acquired players who have a history of steals.

“I know more teams have kind of veered away from it, but I think if you’re a smart baserunner and a smart team about stealing your bases, then you create more opportunities for the hitters,” Young said.

Hyde doesn’t emphasize the stolen base, but it is a weapon.

“It’s more being aggressive on the bases, whether it’s stealing bases or going first to third,” Hyde said. “Being able to score [from second] on a single, pushing the envelope with our baserunning, making it a real priority here in camp.

“…Part of our identity is going to be an aggressive baserunning team. I don’t know if it’s going to be an aggressive basestealing team per se. We want to take advantage of opportunities on the bases.”

Young is trying to make the team as an extra outfielder, and he can play second base. Last year, he hit only .202 for the Angels and walked just eight times and had a .248 on-base percentage. He tries to make the most of his times on base.

“If I’m at first base and I want to leave a hole open, actually I’m not going to force the stolen base,” Young said. “If I can get to second base and the pitcher is giving it to me, and now we have a run in scoring position and a single scores one run, then you’ve got to go and take advantage of it. In addition to being smart about it and not running in random situations now knowing the situation, who’s hitting, who’s pitching, if the shift is on. All those things kind of play into the part.”

Young has played 10 seasons with Colorado, Atlanta, the Mets, Yankees and Angels.

“I love helping the younger players,” Young said.  I’m fortunate enough to say I’ve been playing as long as I have and to come here and still get an opportunity to play, as well as being able to share my knowledge with the younger players. It’s two for one.”

The Orioles have their share of younger players, but with the addition of Young and Escobar, they’re a bit older.

“Just because guys aren’t veterans does not mean they don’t have talent,” Young said. “I think all it is is just getting experience out there and getting comfortable on the field and believing in yourself and I think anything is possible.

“I’ve been on teams that had great teams on paper and didn’t really do anything on the field and vice-versa. I think if everybody goes out there and gives everything they’ve got and reach their full potential, you’ve still got to show up between the lines, even those teams with the big names on them.”

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. bmorebirds

    February 17, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    The Birds have needed an infusion of speed for some time. I loved Showalter, but never understood why he appeared to have zero interest in creating havoc while going station to station? Can’t see 33-year-old Eric Young being much of a base-stealing threat, but glad the Birds are seeking more balance. The fascination with one-dimensional boppers had gotten old.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 17, 2019 at 4:38 pm

      Brandon Hyde seems to like the speed approach, bmorebirds. We’ll see if it works.

  2. TxBirdFan

    February 17, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    Really disappointed that the O’s didn’t ink Jones instead of Young. Disappointing move for the fans and community – the folks who buy tickets. I have a hard time buying into this new management approach. This team could lose more than 115 games, and when they lose 100 next year someone will say the new approach is working. That’s hogwash. Maybe I’m an old timer but I like my teams to win all games, not tank for 3-4 yrs and hope to have a winning record until we sell off again. Not my kind of baseball.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 17, 2019 at 8:54 pm

      This year is likely to be challenging for Orioles fans, too, Tx.

    • VICTORTEE

      February 18, 2019 at 9:06 am

      I agree 100% Tx Bird Fan. The Houston model is cut payroll and tank. Three straight years of 106+ losses. And the task is MUCH harder in the AL East facing 2 of the big boys.

    • mlbbirdfan

      February 18, 2019 at 10:51 am

      You’re an old timer. It does not matter what fans WANT. For me, at age 70, I want a World Series championship within the next seven years. I believe “AstroBall” and the system being installed by the Angebros, Mike Elias, Sig, Hyde, and the rest of the new regime gives me the best chance to see a World Series game in Baltimore ! Please read the book. The author is Ben Reiter. It is the best baseball book I have ever read. And it is the Orioles future. Our choice as fans is to enjoy it, or disparage it. I will enjoy the ride. ( Our season ticket partnership RENEWED our 81-game plan this season )

  3. Orial

    February 17, 2019 at 8:14 pm

    bmorebirds said it right–tired of the old one dimensional boppers. Not sure if Young is here to replace Jones but if it’s taking pitches and advancing 2 bases on a hit I’m for it. Speed approach is the way to go BUT it also applies to the defense. They can be quick in the IF and covering the gaps in the OF but until Mancini is out of the OF the effort is incomplete. I like the Escobar,Young additions as stop gaps until Diaz,Hays,Mckenna are ready.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 17, 2019 at 8:55 pm

      Orial, you won’t recognize this team.

  4. cedar

    February 17, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    I like the approach to have guys who can run the bases better. It’s not so much about the steals as is advancing from 1st to 3rd as well as not running into outs. I felt the Orioles for many years didn’t focus on good base-running. Even if Young and Escobar aren’t in their prime they can help the younger players understand better running on the base paths.

    • VICTORTEE

      February 18, 2019 at 9:08 am

      You do remember you can’t steal first base. Both of the veteran duds the O’s signed had lousy years in 2018.

    • mlbbirdfan

      February 18, 2019 at 10:56 am

      Orioles should install The Dodger Method of base running. They start EVERY prospect with fundamentals, and drill endlessly. PS: just one more reason why Manny did not fit in Los Angeles .

  5. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    February 17, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    I didn’t care for the Young signing. His age and declining skills outwiegh his speed imo. Derek Dietrich is someone the Orioles should sign. He can play the infield and outfield. A left handed hitter with some power. He could fill in at 3b if Nunez struggles and a possible fit in right field.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 18, 2019 at 11:00 am

      He just signed with the Reds, GrandStrand.

  6. Camden Brooks

    February 18, 2019 at 8:47 am

    Like most people, I’m all for speed. However, I don’t put too much stock in the stolen base. In order for them to have an overall positive impact, the success rate has to be pretty freaking high (ask the analytics folks for specifics). Having a speedster steal 60 bases while getting caught 35 times doesn’t work. Bunting for hits, scoring from first on a double, and running down line drives in the gap, does.

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 18, 2019 at 11:01 am

      Villar swiped 35 of 40 last year, Camden Brooks.

    • Camden Brooks

      February 18, 2019 at 12:22 pm

      Yes, that definitely works.

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