Bigger Bases & Pickoff Limitations
From a baserunning perspective, bigger bases and a limitation on pick-off attempts should encourage base stealing and taking the extra base. In the minor leagues, the Cardinals prospects have taken advantage of these rules. Mike Antico and Victor Scott II have both stolen more than 50 bases this year across the minors with Scott II having stolen 89 bases so far. The major league team has taken a different approach to advantageous baserunning situations.
It is logical to assume that larger bases provide teams with greater opportunities when taking the extra base and stealing bases. In 2022, Tommy Edman, Harrison Bader (traded), Paul Goldschmidt, Tyler O'Neill, and Lars Nootbaar were near the top of the team in total stolen bases. As a team, the Cardinals stole 95 total bases, good for 7th in the National League. This year, the Cardinals have stolen 88 bases thus far, on track for 93 this year. In a year in which stolen bases are up across the league, the Cardinals appear to have taken a step back in that department.
When it comes to taking the extra base, those numbers have also decreased. Tommy Edman attempted to take the extra base at a 44% rate last year. This year, that number has decreased by 4%. Paul Goldschmidt attempted to take the extra base 40% of the time last year. That number has dropped to 34% this year. Tyler O'Neill attempted to advance to the extra base 39% of the time last year but only 33% of the time this year. Finally, Lars Nootbaar attempted to take the extra base 50% of the time last year; this year, that number has dropped to 41%.
When teams are stealing bases and taking the extra base much more often, it appears as though the Cardinals' most aggressive base runners have taken a step back this year. The Cardinals did not take advantage of the new rules instituted by MLB in 2023 as much as they could or should have.