The Decline of the Phillies’ Running Game

At the pinnacle of their success in the 2007-11 era, the Phillies were one of the most formidable base-stealing teams around. With a fearsome foursome of Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, and Jayson Werth, the Phillies not only stole with frequency, but with efficiency as well. Much of that can be traced to former coach Davey Lopes, one of baseball’s foremost base-stealing threats in his playing years, and a base-stealing guru as a coach.

Per Baseball Prospectus, the Phillies led all of baseball in SBR (Stolen Base Runs) in 2007 (8.56) and 2008 (7.66), ranked third in 2009 (2.52), ninth in 2010 (1.00), eighth in 2011 (1.89), and ninth last year (2.47).

This year, however, is a completely different story. They have the second-worst SBR in baseball, behind only the Angels (-2.82 to -1.71). That is a catastrophic collapse in what has, for a long time, been the Phillies’ most recognizable asset. This season, the Phillies have stolen 24 bases, which is the ninth-highest total of 15 National League teams. They have been caught 12 times, the third-highest total in the NL, for a stolen base success rate of only 67 percent.

Ben Revere has been the team’s biggest base running threat having stolen eight bases in 11 attempts (73%), but his .290 on-base percentage has put him on the base paths too infrequently for his speed to be utilized to its fullest potential. After Revere, the sidelined Chase Utley has stolen five bases in seven attempts (71%), marking the first time since 2010 he has been caught two or more times in a season. After Utley, Jimmy Rollins has stolen four bases in seven attempts (57%), Domonic Brown two in two attempts, and John Mayberry two in four attempts. Then, Freddy Galvis, Laynce Nix, and Carlos Ruiz have each stolen a base in their only attempts.

When one looks at the roster, it is very difficult to identify even one legitimate base-stealing threat, let alone the four that the Phillies had in the past. It is both related to the Phillies’ overall inability to get on base (.301 on-base percentage ranks 11th of 15 NL teams) and a problem in and of itself, based on the personnel the Phillies have tasked with the job of creating offense. When you depend on old, injury-prone, one-dimensional players, your offense will be predicated on stringing together hits or multi-run home runs (which, by the way, the Phillies really don’t do).

Leave a Reply



  1. Mike S

    May 27, 2013 10:23 AM

    This is a great point. Since Davey Lopes left, the Phils running game has been less than adequate. That was evident for the past 3 yrs.

  2. Bill Baer

    May 27, 2013 11:11 AM

    Juan Pierre has a .231/.286/.282 line.

    Comparatively, Ben Revere — who sucks and is awful and should be shot out of a cannon according to Phillies fans — has a .252/.290/.286 line.

  3. john

    May 27, 2013 03:28 PM

    I agree with the article completely. It’s not only the decrease in stolen bases. More important, especially in this time of sparce run scoring, I think, is the team’s unwillingness to bunt, whether dragging down a baseline or even sacrificing. Rollins refuses to bunt and his lack of getting on is killing the team. We have so many 3 and outs. Speed is part of this team but they refuse to use it. Perhaps Phils do need a more aggressive manager who’s not afraid to play some small ball at the right time.

  4. GB

    May 27, 2013 05:28 PM

    Do not forget Abreu as well…5 30+ SB seasons and 1 40 SB with the Phils…Rollins & Co. certainly learned something from BKA during those years leading up to 2007; after all those teams did win 86, 86, 88 and 85 games from 2003-2006. I know, no playoff spots, but that was hardly their fault and more about Phils management/investment or lack thereof

  5. Smitty

    May 28, 2013 08:02 AM

    I concur Lopes was a wonderful coach but how have the Dodgers done SB wise with him instructing their players/runners ??? The % of success ? Or is it simply the Phils had the right players for the right coach ?

  6. Richard

    May 28, 2013 08:34 AM

    “Rollins refuses to bunt and his lack of getting on is killing the team.”

    I think you’ll find that Rollins has one of the highest OBPs on the team. Not that it’s a good OBP, mind you (.307 as I write this comment, though roughly trending up), but he’s hardly the main culprit as far as “killing the team” goes.

  7. Anybody still think Ben R is a CF'er

    May 28, 2013 04:36 PM

    Bill, comparing Juan Pierre to Big Ben and making that a case for why we should be happy with Ben Revere is lame (if that is what you were inferring). If I remember correctly, you spent many articles on the emptiness that was Juan Pierre’s batting average and defensive inadequacies and you just wrote a short ditty on the emptiness of MY and Ben at this point. I agree, we shouldn’t have kept Juan and we shouldn’t be playing Ben.

  8. Phillie697

    May 28, 2013 04:58 PM

    @Anybody still think Ben R is a CF’er,

    I think BB was responding to “They had a guy last year who stole bases and was a true professional…should’ve kept Juan Pierre. He’d probably be one of their best hitters too with this group of undisciplined hacks.”

    Comparing Juan Pierre to Big Ben and making that a case for why we should not be happy with Ben Revere is lame (if that is what you were inferring).

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