Minnesota attempted zero stolen bases while being swept out of ALDS in three games, but you can be certain that Texas will test New York’s ability to control the running game early and often in the ALCS.
Texas swiped 123 bases during the regular season to rank seventh among all MLB teams and second to only Tampa Bay among playoff teams, and then they went 6-for-7 on the bases in the five-game ALDS.
Elvis Andrus led the team with 32 steals and Nelson Cruz, Julio Borbon, Ian Kinsler, and David Murphy also each swiped double-digit bags. And while the Rangers’ speed will obviously play a factor in how often they run, Jorge Posada’s weak arm may play an even bigger role in how often manager Ron Washington gives them the green light.
Posada threw out just 13 runners in 85 attempts for a career-worst rate of 15 percent and the only catcher in the league with at least 500 innings behind the plate who was easier to run on was his backup, Francisco Cervelli, at 14 percent. As a team the Yankees threw out just 15 percent of steal attempts, which is by far worst in the league. In fact, no other AL team was below 20 percent.
Andy Pettitte’s pickoff move is great enough to more or less shut down Texas’ running game, but CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and especially A.J. Burnett can be run on and as Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse points out opponents went 51-for-54 swiping bases off Yankees relievers. Obviously the Yankees can limit the Rangers’ running by keeping them off the bases in the first place, but once Andrus, Cruz, Borbon, Kinsler, Murphy, and even Josh Hamilton reach they figure to put Posada to the test constantly.