Derek Jeter has 357 career stolen bases and has been successful in attempting to swipe a bag over 78% of the time. That’s good! Brett Gardner has 180 career stolen bases and has been successful in attempting to swipe a bag over 81% of the time. That’s even better! Two pretty fantastic base runners, there.
Which is why seeing both of them thrown out on a double steal is a pretty fun man-bites-dog story this morning:
Some people say that paying close attention to stats and thinking in terms of probabilities takes the fun out of watching baseball. I say that knowing the stats and probabilities makes one appreciate it all the more when the unexpected happens.
The Mariners announced that the club claimed Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Angels. Interestingly, the Mariners list Cowart as both an outfielder and a right-handed pitcher. Cowart has never pitched professionally, but the Mariners will try him as a two-way player next season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Cowart was a highly regarded pitcher in high school.
Cowart, 26, has played all over the field, spending most of his time at third base and second base, but also logging a handful of innings at first base, shortstop, and left field. He hasn’t hit much at all, owning a career .177/.241/.293 triple-slash line across 380 plate appearances in the big leagues. It makes sense to try another angle.
Shohei Ohtani, of course, is helping to popularize the rebirth of the two-way player. In his first year in the majors after having played in Japan for five years, Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances along with a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts. Don’t expect Cowart to hit those lofty numbers, but additional versatility could prolong his life in the majors.