In Tuesday night’s 7-2 win over the Minnesota Twins, the Pirates stole three bases, including a double steal in the fifth inning that involved Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen. When asked about the steals after the game, manager Clint Hurdle said, “I’m committed to it. We’ve got to be aggressive.” The Bucs have certainly been aggressive on the basepaths this month; they’ve stolen more this month than any other this season.
Without any true power hitters, the Bucs knew they’d have to utilize their speed this season to generate offense. In the opening month of April, the Pirates stole 13 bases in 22 games, while being caught stealing 10 times (56.5% success rate). They scored just 58 runs that month (about 2.64 per game).
The Pirates were 12 for 18 (66.7% success rate) in stolen bases in May; more success but less attempts. In 28 May games they scored 89 runs, which equates to 3.18 per game. However, they hit more home runs that month (25 in May vs. 13 in April), so that largely contributes to the greater amount of runs scored.
This month, the Bucs have really increased their running game. In 16 games, they’ve stolen 20 bases while being thrown out seven times (74.1% success rate). The Pirates have already surpassed their April and May stolen base totals despite only playing for a little over half the month. They have stolen at least one base in 10 of the 16 games. In the 10 games they have stolen a base, the Bucs have averaged 5.6 runs per game. In the six games they have not stolen a base, the Bucs have averaged 4.33 runs per game. Here are the Pirates stolen base leaders:
1. Andrew McCutchen, 14
2. Jose Tabata, 8
3. Neil Walker, 7
4. Alex Presley, 6
5. Josh Harrison, 5
The Buccos rank 16th in Major League Baseball with a total of 45 steals on the year, but should climb up the leaderboard if they continue to be aggressive. With the speed at the top of the lineup, it’s necessary to swipe some bags. Stolen bases put a lot of pressure on the defense and can create instant offense. They’ve scored more runs this month, which is a positive sign going forward. Pedro Alvarez and Clint Barmes have both pulled their averages over .200 the past few days, and Casey McGehee has hit well in his last couple games. If those guys can heat up and the top of the order players continue to get on base and steal, there are plenty of opportunities to score runs and support the pitchers.