33 games into the season, the Braves are a remarkable 5-for-15 stealing bases. Now they’re not the only team in single digits when it comes to steals: the Cubs have just one more stolen base on the season. But to have been caught on two-thirds of their attempts makes this an historically awful start.
The Braves are currently on pace for 25 steals, which would be the lowest total since the Mets had 25 in 1994. The last team to finish with fewer than 25 steals were the 1973 Pirates, with 23.
Of course, the Braves aren’t really that bad. But unless they pick it up, they will join this list of the teams with the worst steal percentages since 2005:
Nationals 2005: 45/45 – 50.0%
Athletics 2005: 31/22 – 58.5%
Braves 2006: 52/35 – 59.8%
Tigers 2006: 60/40 – 60.0%
Royals 2005: 53/33 – 61.6%
Cubs 2009: 56/34 – 62.2%
Dodgers 2005: 58/35 – 62.4%
Cubs 2005: 65/39 – 62.5%
Indians 2007: 72/41 – 62.8%
Cardinals 2007: 56/33 – 62.9%
Rockies 2006: 85/50 – 63.0%
Giants 2010: 55/32 – 63.2%
Indians 2005: 62/36 – 63.3%
White Sox 2007: 78/45 – 63.4%
Cubs 2010: 55/31 – 63.9%
Royals 2007: 78/44 – 63.9%
The 2011 White Sox are also threatening an appearance, thanks largely to Juan Pierre’s awful start. They’re 18-for-36 stealing bases in the early going.
It’s hard to imagine the Braves finishing short of 30 steals, but they might fail to reach 40 unless they bring in some speed later on. The last team to steal fewer than 40 bases was the 2008 Padres.
Of course, the Braves can take heart that a team doesn’t need to be particularly good at stealing bases to win. Note the presence of the 2010 Giants on the list above.
The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.
Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.
Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.
Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.
So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]
Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.
I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.
Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”
Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.
It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.