One of the more surprising things last season was just how poorly Matt Kemp performed on the base paths. He was caught stealing 15 times on 34 attempts last season, and that’s just not getting the job done. With that success rate he’s better off not going at all.
But go he will this year, and unlike last year, he’ll have the help of Davey Lopes, who is now the Dodgers’ base running coach. The same Lopes who, as the Phillies first base coach, had that team stealing bases with a great deal of success. Of the regular starters in Philly last year, only Raul Ibanez had a bad stolen base success rate, and that was on a mere 7 attempts. No one ran a ton there, but when they ran, they ran very efficiently.
That’s what Lopes stresses in an article by Bill Shaikin in the Los Angeles Times:
“Some guys think that, because of their speed and ability, they can steal at any time, in any situation, against any given pitcher,” Lopes said. “That’s when you get hurt. “In a sequence of seven or eight pitches, a pitcher may give you one pitch to steal. He may slow down his motion one time. If you’re not ready, you’re going to miss your opportunity.
While watching Kemp steal against the Angels a week ago Saturday, another guy in the press box asked aloud why on Earth the Phillies would let Davey Lopes go. The consensus was that the Phillies, as a rule, don’t pay a lot for coaches, Lopes wanted too much money, so off he went.
I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I suspect we’ll see this year just how valuable Davey Lopes is.