The Chicago Cubs are “known” for many things, but being prolific base stealers is not one of them. The team’s modest eight stolen bases before yesterday’s finale against the White Sox ranked second to last in Major League Baseball, and dead last in the NL.
They are one of the most aggressive and successful base running teams in the league, however. In fact, their overall baserunning score at FanGraphs is tops in baseball, and by a healthy margin. The Cubs’ 6.0 BsR score is nearly 1.5 runs ahead of the second place Tigers, and nearly two runs ahead of the Dodgers, who are second in the NL.
Rarely will you see a group of guys so consistently go first to third (or second to home (or third to home)) – and do so successfully, but the Cubs always seem to make it work, despite not boasting a ton of speedsters. Smart, calculated, aggressive, and consistent base running was always a big part of the “Cubs Way” – an organizational philosophy Theo Epstein created and circulated when he first took control of the organization. So perhaps it’s no surprise to see the current big league roster – filled with guys who came through the system as Minor Leaguers – adhering to those principles.
As I said, though: as much as they’re tremendous base runners overall, they’re not huge base stealers, and really haven’t been in this current competitive era. But if you give them an opening, these aggressive Cubs will take a base on it, even if it’s one of those old fashioned steals.
Yesterday, four guys – including Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber – stole a combined five bases against the White Sox, with four in the first inning, alone. Reminder: they had just eight stolen bases TOTAL before yesterday’s game.
Take a look at all four from the first:
The fun started with Anthony Rizzo, who picked his spot wisely (and has been very successful doing just that in the past). He was followed by the catcher, Willson Contreras, and eventually a double steal by Kyle Schwarber and Javy Baez.
Kyle Schwarber stole his second base of the game three innings later, again off Lucas Giolito. Cleary, running like crazy on Giolito was pre-planned, because the Cubs really went for it (and it worked).
Kyle Schwarber has 2 stolen bases today. As a team, the Cubs have 5 off Lucas Giolito. pic.twitter.com/1GvUcD2lZR
— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) May 13, 2018
All together, the team swiped five bags, which brought their season total up to 13, which is more than the Dodgers (12), Marlins (9), and A’s (7)! These Cubs will probably never lead the way in terms of stolen bases – and it’s not like it was enough to win yesterday – but it’s good to know they can do it, when the opportunity presents itself.
And, hey, perhaps now that they’ve shown how well it can work, Joe Maddon will be a little more open to it in the future.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.