Phil Miller's Sunday Insider: Twins not stealing or hitting triples

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 4, 2013 - 8:44 PM

They had two triples and a stolen base Saturday — both rare sights for them.

hide

Eduardo Escobar slid into third base for a triple against Washington on June 9.

Photo: Chuck Myers, McClatchy Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

After picking up a triple as part of his 4-for-4 night in Tampa Bay last month, Aaron Hicks expressed a little empathy for Rays right fielder Wil Myers, who had to run more than 100 feet to retrieve the baseball after it hit an oddly angled wall near the Tampa Bay bullpen.

“The ball hit that wall where it juts out,” making his triple a simple matter, Hicks said. “It almost wasn’t fair.”

The Twins must feel the same way about triples in general, because they avoid them like they’re illegal. Hicks’ wall-aided three-base-hit, back on July 8? It was their lone triple of the month. Brian Dozier and Oswaldo Arcia both tripled Saturday, their first two since Hicks’.

Those two gave the Twins 12 triples all year. With Hicks and Eduardo Escobar in the minor leagues, the current roster has a collective total of seven. With a little more than one-third of the season remaining, the Twins are on pace to collect 18 triples — easily the fewest in franchise history. (The previous low: 23 in the strike-shortened 1994 season.)

So have the Twins become a team of turtles, dragging themselves from base to base?

Their general manager doesn’t think so. “We’ve got guys who can run. ... I’m not saying they’re burners — they’re not,” Terry Ryan said. “But I think our team speed is fine. That’s not something I’m worried about.”

Still, it’s quite a change from last season, and not just because the Twins collected 30 triples. They also led the American League in stolen bases in 2012, racking up 135, on a 78.4 percent success rate; this season, they rank 14th. Four different players swiped at least 17 bases — but none of the four are on the team this year. Ben Revere (40 steals) and Denard Span (17) were traded, Alexi Casilla (21) was allowed to walk away as a free agent, and Darin Mastroianni (21) had ankle surgery that has kept him out of all but eight games.

With those players gone, the Twins have only 35 steals (the 35th coming Saturday), ranking ahead of only the power-laden Tigers, and their 61.4 percent success rate is worst in the AL. Hicks leads the team with nine steals, Pedro Florimon and Brian Dozier eight apiece. No other Twin has more than two.

Those numbers are merely a symptom, though, Ryan says. The problem isn’t speed, it’s opportunity, he points out.

“We aren’t stealing bases because we’re not getting on base,” Ryan said. “When Hicks was in the leadoff spot, he couldn’t use his speed because he couldn’t get on base. But Hicks can run every bit as well as Revere and Span. He doesn’t look like it, but he can fly.”

Steals and triples don’t necessarily correlate to victories anyway, although first-place Boston leads the AL in both. And as Ryan pointed out, all those steals didn’t do much good last year, when the Twins scored only 701 runs.

“Doesn’t matter if you steal them, if you can’t get them across,” Ryan said.

But the Twins, like several teams, believe the running game is about to undergo a resurgence.

“It looks like the game may be trending more toward speed again, because of the efforts to get PEDs out,” said Mike Radcliff, Twins vice president for player personnel. “So [fast] guys have a real shot, because the running game is going to pick up.”

The farm system isn’t loaded with speed, but there are some good prospects, Byron Buxton (and his 38 steals) chief among them. The Twins drafted speedy center fielder Zach Granite in June, and he has 11 stolen bases at rookie-level Elizabethton. Shortstop prospect Danny Santana has 21 steals for Class AA New Britain, and 29-year-old journeyman outfielder Antoan Richardson has stolen 36 bases at New Britain and Rochester.

“Everybody is always looking for speed, and we are too,” Ryan said. “But that’s not our biggest problem now.”

Central Intelligence

With the White Sox on pace to suffer their first 100-loss season since 1970, grumbling has begun about manager Robin Ventura. But General Manager Rick Hahn said Ventura is not to blame. “The effort hasn’t changed. The level of communication and energy hasn’t changed,” Hahn said on the team’s flagship radio station. “At this time, we don’t feel changes are merited in the near future.”

  • related content

  • Sunday Insider: Central intelligence

    Sunday August 4, 2013

    With the White Sox on pace to suffer their first 100-loss season since 1970, grumbling has begun about manager Robin...

  • Sunday Insider: Statistically speaking

    Saturday August 3, 2013

    Problem inningsThe Twins’ first-inning problems, acute in May, have improved, though they still have allowed more first-inning runs (and been...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Bottom 4th123456789RHE
Minnesota0000     050
Baltimore0001     141
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
HR: MIN- None BAL- None

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 0 FINAL
Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront 5 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson 1
Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 3
Minnesota 0 Bottom 4th Inning
Baltimore 1
Philadelphia 3 Top 6th Inning
NY Mets 0
Miami 4 Top 6th Inning
Atlanta 0
Boston 0 Bottom 4th Inning
Tampa Bay 3
Cleveland 1 Bottom 4th Inning
Kansas City 0
Detroit 5 Top 5th Inning
Chicago WSox 0
Texas 0 Bottom 6th Inning
Houston 0
Colorado 1 Bottom 2nd Inning
Arizona 0
Chicago Cubs 1 Top 2nd Inning
St. Louis 1
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 7:40 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 8:05 PM
San Francisco - J. Peavy
Oakland - J. Samardzija 8:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Washington - S. Strasburg 8:10 PM
Seattle - R. Elias
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 4th Qtr 3:15
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 4th Qtr 12:05
(12) Georgia 24
Liberty 22 3rd Qtr 5:42
(23) North Carolina 35
Ohio U 14 4th Qtr 10:07
Kent State 7
Louisiana Tech 0 2nd Qtr 0:37
(4) Oklahoma 31
Stephen F Austin 10 2nd Qtr 0:53
(20) Kansas State 28
Fresno State 0 2nd Qtr 8:20
(15) USC 24
Southern Miss 0 2nd Qtr 11:50
Miss State 14
Texas-El Paso 14 1st Qtr 4:21
New Mexico 7
North Texas 0 1st Qtr 3:35
Texas 7
(1) Florida State 10 1st Qtr 5:35
Oklahoma State 0
Idaho 0 Delayed
Florida 0
(14) Wisconsin 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 FINAL
Seattle 1
New England 3 FINAL
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 0 2nd Half
Montreal 1
FC Dallas 0 1st Half 44:55
Chicago 0
Real Salt Lake 9:30 PM
San Jose
Portland 9:30 PM
Vancouver FC
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Chicago 48 4th Qtr 9:20
Indiana 62
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close