Orioles showing they know when to steal bases, too - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Orioles showing they know when to steal bases, too

Photo Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports


CINCINNATI—The Orioles have had a terrific start offensively. Not only are they leading major league baseball with 49 home runs entering Saturday night’s game against the Cincinnati Reds, but they have the best success ratio in stolen bases. They’ve stolen 26 of 29 (89.7 percent).

“Not putting any more emphasis on it,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We do talk about some things. I feel like we’re picking our spots well right now. There are certain guys we’re more aggressive with than others.

“We do want to be aggressive. I think our numbers are going to go up a little bit. We’re not going to force anything, either and run into outs. We feel like there’s a good chance we can get there, we’re going to take chances at times.”

Centerfielder Cedric Mullins is 6-for-8 and infielder Jorge Mateo is 5-for-5, but Gunnar Henderson, who has 10 home runs, also is 6-for-6 in steals, putting him on pace for a 30-home run, 30-steal season.

“I feel like I’m just getting more comfortable on the basepaths,” Henerson said. “Trying to be smarter out there and trying to take shots at a stolen base when I can let the guy behind me hit. Just definitely learning through those experiences, and whenever I get the opportunity just go out there and try to take my best shot at it.”

Since the bases were widened last year and unsuccessful pickoffs were limited to two, stolen bases and success rates have risen in baseball. Entering Saturday’s games, teams have been successful 78.4 percent of the time this season, so the Orioles have done far better than league average.

“Whatever the game situation calls for,” Hyde said. “Who’s on first base matters and who is at the plate matters, too. Picking the right counts, picking the right spots in the game. Certain guys that I have given the freedom to, if they get a jump, they can go. I’ll shut them down on occasion, but not very often. I do want our guys to be aggressive. The majority of guys I put that on for them. I free them up. There are certain guys on the club that really have the green light to go.”

Not only are the players you’d expect to running, but so are others. Jordan Westburg is 4-for-5, Colton Cowser is 3-for-3, and Ryan Mountcastle is 2-for-2.

“Mounty is sneaky fast, and sometimes guys can fall asleep on him,” Hyde said. “He’s got good speed. He’s got good speed for a big guy. Westburg can run. Gunnar can run. We have some guys that can run in our lineup, so try to pick the right time and tell them they can go.”

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