Stolen bases becoming long-shot gambles for Braves
This year’s speed-challenged Braves have managed to make the stolen base attempt the equivalent of what the football world recognizes as the Hail Mary pass.
The Braves have been successful with just 11 of their first 27 stolen base attempts this season. That equates to a 40.7 percent success rate. The Marlins (55.8 percent) and White Sox (50 percent) are the only other clubs with a success percentage below the 65.2 mark posted by the Cubs entering Sunday.
The Orioles (22-for-28), Twins (27-for-35) and Cubs (15-for-23) are the only other clubs other than the Braves to have registered fewer than 40 stolen base attempts this year. As the numbers show, these clubs have been much more successful in the art of picking their spots, or knowing when to keep the driver in the golf bag.
The worst stolen base percentage posted by a Braves team dating back to 1980 was the 55 percent mark (93-for-169) posted by the 1986 club.
Many of the Braves’ unsuccessful attempts have come at the end of unsuccessful hit-and-run attempts. Most of these botched attempts have affected Martin Prado, who has been successful with just one of his six stolen base attempts.
Meanwhile opponents have been successful with 72.4 percent (42-for-58) of their stolen base attempts against the Braves this year. It’s no surprise that they have been successful with 16 of the 18 attempts made against Tommy Hanson, who saw opponents prove successful with 89.1 percent (33-for-37) of their attempts last year.
But it has been surprising that opponents have been successful with nine of their first 10 attempts against tonight’s starting pitcher Tim Hudson. Last year, Hudson limited opponents to a 50 percent (11-for-22) success rate.
While the Braves certainly defend the running game better with David Ross behind the plate, Brian McCann did throw out six of the 14 opponents who attempted to steal while he was serving as Hudson’s catcher last year.
This year, McCann has been behind the plate for each of the 10 stolen base attempts made with Hudson on the mound.
As mentioned Friday, McCann will get the day off Tuesday and Chipper Jones will rest for tonight’s series finale against the Mets.
Two days after fouling a pitch off the right side of his face, Jordan Schafer is back in tonight’s lineup. He ran in the outfield this afternoon and headed toward the clubhouse with a smile on his face.
Schafer was very fortunate to simply suffer a non-displaced sinus fracture when Jonathon Niese’s fastball hit off the handle of his bat and hit his square on the right side of the face Friday night. He didn’t lose any teeth and simply had a very small bruise under his right eye when he returned to the park Saturday.
Still when asked if he would take a picture to show the fans how little damage he had incurred, Schafer smiled and said, “I can’t let the ladies see me like this.”
Speaking of Chipper, many of you asked how far his eighth-inning homer against Niese traveled Friday night. The Mets did not provide an estimate, but many of the media members polled said it was one of the few balls they have seen travel to the second deck since Citi Field opened in 2009.
The folks at hittrackeronline.com estimated the home run’s true distance to be 412 feet and its standard distance (factors out the influence of wind, temperature and altitude) to be 422 feet.
According to this website, three of the other four homers Jones has hit this year have actually traveled further than the one he hit Friday night. His longest shot by their estimates was the one he hit against the Nationals’ Jordan Zimmerman on May 12 at Turner Field. Its true distance was estimated at 437 feet and its standard distance was estimated at 432.