Don't get defensive about stolen base indifference

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If I write this story and no one cares, should it count? (Don’t answer that please!)

I think of this after seeing an interesting story by the New York Times’ Jack Curry on the only time a stolen base doesn’t count as a stolen base: When the defense doesn’t care.

You may have already known this, but the “defensive indifference” rule has been around for 89 years. The people over at Elias actually keep track of them.

Usually this only comes into play late in a ballgame when the leading team doesn’t bother to stop a runner from stealing a base, preferring to keep its defense in place and focus on getting the final outs of the game.

So when a runner swipes a base under these conditions, “defensive indifference” is called, and the runner is not credited for a steal. I guess it’s sort of like when people leave their junk on the sidewalk with an attached sign reading “free.” If you take the junk, the previous owner can’t turn around and call the cops on you.

While some players might think that is hardly fair – after all, football and basketball players are free to pad their stats late in blowout games – the general consensus among those interviewed by Curry (including Carlos Beltran) don’t seem to mind.

“If the first baseman plays 50 feet behind me, there’s no way that’s a steal,” Beltran said. “As a base runner, I wouldn’t want that.”

And don’t worry baserunners, if you fall down and are tagged out, you won’t be charged with a caught stealing.

Hirdt noted that Rule 10.07(h) states that a runner cannot be nabbed with a caught stealing if he would not have been credited with a steal if he had been safe.

Fair is fair – after all – if they don’t care.

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.

Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.

While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.