BOSTON -- Yunel Escobar made the turn at first base, never stopped and was thrown out at second. Mike Trout hesitated on a potential passed ball and was tagged out at third. Jett Bandy broke on a hit-and-run, hardly bothered to pick up his head and got doubled off.The first
BOSTON -- Yunel Escobar made the turn at first base, never stopped and was thrown out at second. Mike Trout hesitated on a potential passed ball and was tagged out at third. Jett Bandy broke on a hit-and-run, hardly bothered to pick up his head and got doubled off.
The first three innings of the Angels' 10-5 loss at Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon featured three critical outs on the bases, the continuation of an overlooked-yet-glaring problem for this team this season.
The Angels have committed 36 outs on the bases, the second-highest total in the American League, and FanGraphs has rated their baserunning a minus-9.3, the game's fourth-lowest score. Angels manager Mike Scioscia believes "you're looking under the wrong tree" by assuming baserunning is the reason his team sits 16 games below .500 and 18 1/2 out of first place.
But it is an issue nonetheless.
"We don't have great team speed," Angels third-base coach Ron Roenicke said. "So I think what we have is guys are trying to be aggressive, trying to take the extra bases when they can. Sometimes we'll run into an out when it seems like we shouldn't be going. But when you don't have just a bunch of basestealers, you try to create runs. We're doing the best we can with what we have."
The Angels rank 23rd in the Majors in steals with 29, and 13 of those have come from Trout, who already has two more than his total from last season. The group entered Sunday tied for fifth in the Majors going first to third, a development that would please Scioscia. But Angels baserunners are making too many outs, and they don't necessarily have the collective speed to make up for it.
"We're putting guys in motion as much as we can," Scioscia said. "We've run into some outs and we've created some things. I think we've been aggressive."
Escobar began the series finale by inexplicably trying to take second base on a line drive that didn't roll to the wall and was thrown out without necessitating a slide. Two batters later, Trout was gunned down at third when he didn't initially break on a pitch that bounced off the glove of catcher Sandy Leon. And two innings after that, Bandy took off for third, never looked at the play developing and was doubled off second when Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. made an impressive catch on Escobar's deep drive.
Scioscia said baserunning numbers are "cyclical." He went into the season expecting the Angels to be a more aggressive team, but said they didn't get on base frequently enough early on and pointed to the fact that Daniel Nava (traditional on-base guy) and Craig Gentry (elite basestealer) missed significant time.
"You can take any small sample of baserunning, you can take any small sample of a pitcher's performance, and I think you'll fool yourself with the conclusion," Scioscia said. "I think historically we run the bases aggressively. We'll run into some outs here and there, but if the trade-off is that we're creating offense, you're going to be happy with it."
Alden Gonzalez has covered the Angels for MLB.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.