Friday, May 8, 2009

The Return of the Speed Game -- Are we Reverting Back to the 80's?

I have been meaning to post this for quite some time.

May 3rd: Carl Crawford steals SIX BASES during a game against Boston.

And a week before, on Monday April 27th, the Colorado Rockies steal 8 BASES against a snail-like delivery from Chris Young and the hopeless to do anything about it Nick Hundley, catcher for the San Diego Padres -- with Dexter Fowler contributing FIVE of those steals himself.

What in the name of Rickey Henderson is going on here?

Another few key points I have noticed in the "early" going of the '09 season -- back to Crawford. As an avid fantasy baseball enthusiast, I have followed Crawford for some time, and like most people, have been waiting for his breakout in power. Well with a solid sample size now in the books (this is CC's 7th full season in MLB) it's clear he's never going to be that 25 HR guy that fantasy pundits have been craving, with a high of 18 coming in 2006, and his lower totals of 11 HR and 8 HR in '07 and '08, respectively.

Alarmingly, however, CC's steals have also regressed over the last few years -- 58 in '06, 50 in '07, and then a career-low 25 last year in and injury-plagued '08. Perhaps this is ALL the result of something I am also finding seemingly a huge factor in players production as I follow the game more, A PLAYER'S HEALTH (see Aaron Hill, Ryan Zimmerman, Jason Bay, etc.) Which is a discussion for another day.

But now with 20 steals in 30 games, CC is on pace for a Henderson-esque 108 steals, again assuming a healthy season.

Another case study: Bobby Abreu. Bobby Abreu in 2009, through 26 games, has 12 steals. That's almost 75 steals in a full season. And Abreu currently is riding into the middle of May WITH ZERO, YES ZERO HOMERUNS. I doubt he ends up with 70+ steals, but the point is where has the power gone with some of these guys?

Conspiracy theory: Is this the result of enhanced drug testing, slimmed down/less muscular (and subsequently FASTER) players? Guys like Abreu, who I have always been suspicious about, with power numbers regressing from 30 homers only five years ago in 2004 to an average of 18 over the past two years, AND NOW ZERO THROUGH EARLY MAY?

Perhaps these guys can't rely on the longball to stay in the game anymore so they are resorting to hitting line drives, getting on base, and stealing bags? Don't get me wrong -- steals are nothing new to Abreu -- he was a 30-30 guy in 2001 and 2004 for the Phils, and came close a few other times. Abreu averaged 30 steals from '99 through '05. But now on pace for 50+ with zero power to go along with it, I ain't buying it. Something is up...

1 comment:

  1. More steals in my opinion is probably most due to the general "getting young-ness" of the league. Instead of carrying some guy in his mid-upper 30s as an extra bat, teams are cutting them and bringing up the next prospect. Younger means lighter and faster.

    Of course, this does not explain why a guy like Abreu all of a sudden is running like crazy. Maybe in his case its just getting away from an anti-steal manager.

    I do think the massive drop in power numbers is amazing. It should be nice to get back to some sense of normalcy in the baseball world.