For all that's been made of how Jordan Schafer fits into the Astros' new patience profile of higher walk and strikeout totals, there's another element of the game that he adds to a team with little. In replacing Michael Bourn, whom he was traded for, Schafer provides one of the few significant base-stealing threats on the roster.
Through the Astros' 1-0 victory Friday, Schafer maintains a pace for 56 steals and 20 times caught, putting him roughly at the threshold of success that must be maintained to make it a worthwhile endeavor at all. His career numbers of 35 steals and nine times caught are far greater than his ratio of 87:50 in the minors, when he was really struggling with the art despite great speed.
"I never felt comfortable stealing bases (in the minors)," Schafer said. "I still have some stuff I need to work on, but I feel very comfortable doing it now."
Schafer gives plenty of credit for those who have helped him go from just a speedster to a true leadoff man as the position is often used. He worked with Atlanta's Triple-A manager Dave Brundage and former big league stealing great Otis Nixon in his time with the Braves. Schafer never picked up the comfort for stealing third, though, until he was traded to the Astros and worked with minor league outfield and base-running instructor Milt Thompson in spring training.
Brad Mills has given him a green light, though somewhat of a restrained one that trusts the player's judgment.
"I've talked to him a number of times and I talked to him again and said, 'If you don't get a jump, you don't have to go,'" Mills said. "When I send you, you don't have to go if it's not a must-go."
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