There has been a lot of chatter about the aggressiveness of the Blue Jays on the bases this season, but it doesn't really stand up.
The Jays are stealing bases at a much higher rate than last season, it is true. They have 35 stolen bases already, and they stole all of 58 bases in 2010. Of course, the Giants stole three fewer bases last season, and all they did was win the World Series.
But although Toronto's stolen-base totals are up, there also has been an increase in players being picked off, seven already this year, while there were 14 all of last season. Both this year and last year, the success rate of steals has been 74 percent, which is about the league average.
However, not all steals are equal. Often a stolen base leads to nothing. Volume of steals is not so important as getting the stolen base when it is needed and when it makes sense. It's too early to judge this team on that score, but so far many of the steals seem to have been insignificant. Some of the baserunning hasn't been smart, either, costing the team important outs.
But speed on the bases is more than about mere steals. It is about taking the extra base -- going first to third or second to home on singles. It is about going first to home on doubles.
You don't have to look any further than charts on the baseball-reference.com to see that the 2011 Blue Jays are not doing well in that aspect.
Going into Monday's 10-5 loss to the Tigers, the Blue Jays were taking the extra base 34 percent of the time, lower than the league average of 40 per cent.. Last year's team did better, taking the extra base 36 percent of the time when the opportunities were there against the league average of 39 percent.
In 2009, the Blue Jays took the extra base 40 percent of the time against a 39 percent average for the league. That season, they stole 73 bases and were successful 76 percent of the time, higher than the league average.
In 2009, the Blue Jays won 75 games. The 2010 Blue Jays, with less speed and more home run trots, won 85.
The 2011 Blue Jays are currently 15-20. That's the stat that counts. It's not pretty so far.
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