It was a seemingly innocent stolen base, but for the St. Louis Cardinals it might illustrate a trend away from the long ball.
The stolen base achieved by Peter Bourjos during the Cardinals’ exhibition game Monday against the Washington Nationals was the team’s 27th of the spring.
To put this into perspective, the Cardinals stole 57 bases all of last season, through 162 games. That was enough to rank 28th among all teams in Major League Baseball.
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What’s behind the change? No one is sure. But it may mirror the trend in baseball back toward manufacturing runs instead of simply swinging for the fences on every pitch.
The passing of the steroid era means the true home run hitters of the game — you know, the ones that hit 40 in a season instead of 60 or 65 — are bringing the offense back down to levels that resemble the late 1960s.
Even though home runs were still in power in 2002, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim won that year’s World Series by outsmarting the San Francisco Giants with stolen bases.
Hitters like Matt Adams and Matt Holliday will find a way to swing for the fences and connect for 15 to 20 homers in a season. But if a team can find a way to connect via small ball, then more power to them, right?
It will be interesting to see if this trend continues into the 2015 regular season. The conventional wisdom says small ball could help the team compete against the likes of the Chicago Cubs and their power hitting. But it’s still too early to tell.
In the meantime, enjoy legalized robbery on the bases.