SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Baserunning was not among the Giants' list of flaws in 2017. However, the scoreboard functions as the universal traffic signal for all baserunners, and since the scoreboard typically treated the Giants harshly last year, it follows that the basepaths can lead San Francisco not just toward home
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Baserunning was not among the Giants' list of flaws in 2017. However, the scoreboard functions as the universal traffic signal for all baserunners, and since the scoreboard typically treated the Giants harshly last year, it follows that the basepaths can lead San Francisco not just toward home plate but also toward improvement.
Third-base coach Ron Wotus and first-base coach Jose Alguacil possess the responsibility of refining the team's baserunning skills. Both believe that the Giants can consistently put their best feet forward this year.
"Baserunning is an attitude," Wotus said Saturday before the Giants put 19 runners on base in an 11-7 split-squad victory over the Angels. The Giants also won the other game, 9-8, in Tempe. "The guys are listening, and they want to win. Anytime you have a group that wants to win, they understand how important the baserunning is.
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"We want them to be in the moment, and the scoreboard dictates that."
Said Alguacil: "When things go the way they did last year, everybody started to play a little more timid. It's not about technique. But there's some stuff we can polish."
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The Giants hope to strike a better balance between aggressive and careful baserunning. That includes reacting to pitches in the dirt and advancing from first base to third or from second to home.
San Francisco performed adequately enough in these and similar situations last year to tie Washington for 10th in baseball-reference.com's Extra Bases Taken category. The Giants' 41 percent success rate in this category exceeded the National League average of 40 percent.
San Francisco also was competent at avoiding Outs on Bases, which baseball-reference.com defines as runners being put out on plays such as advancing on a fly ball, attempting to reach another base on a hit, being doubled off on a line drive, or attempting to advance on a wild pitch or passed ball. San Francisco's 51 outs on the bases fell below the MLB average of 53.
The Giants also want to incorporate basestealing more often. They ranked 10th in the NL with 76 steals last year. The offseason acquisition of nimble outfieldrs Andrew McCutchen and Austin Jackson, who have 171 and 111 career thefts, respectively, should help.
"Athleticism helps and speed helps," Wotus said. "But you don't have to be fast to be good at baserunning. A good example is Buster Posey. A ball in the dirt, he advances. A base hit, he knows where the outfield is playing and gets good reads. Those are the things we want to improve on, whether we're fast or slow, because we have to score from second base on base hits."
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.