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Matt Williams' 2014 Nationals: The Best Baserunning Team in MLB?

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According to John Dewan's "Stat of the Week" over at ActaSports.com, the 2014 Washington Nationals were the Best Baserunning Team in the majors in 2014. Matt Williams' aggressive approach to baserunning apparently worked...

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

In his introductory press conference last winter, Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams talked about the Nats being aggressive on the basepaths and taking extra bases when possible to help generate offense.

Williams, who was a first and third base coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks before joining the Nats as manager, said he would bring the same aggressive approach to the game he had as a player and coach to his new job on the bench in the nation's capital.

"I think that if you apply pressure, you have the advantage," he explained. "So that comes in many different forms."

"I want to steal second base," the first-year skipper said.

"I want to hit and run. I want to go first to third. Those are important to me. I think we've seen that if we can score that extra run, it can be really special. " -Matt Williams on approach to baserunning, Winter 2013-14

"I want to hit and run. I want to go first to third. Those are important to me. I think we've seen that if we can score that extra run, it can be really special. So, yeah, aggressiveness is key."

According to John Dewan's Stat of the Week at ActaSports.com, using Bill James' "Net Gain" for baserunning as a measurement, which, "comprehensively measures baserunning by including advancements on hits and outs in addition to stolen bases," and as measured by BsR (Base Runs), Williams' Nationals, "...were actually the best baserunning team in baseball last season."

"The keys to the Nationals’ baserunning success," Dewan writes, "were taking extra bases and avoiding outs.":

"Despite their modest stolen base totals, Anthony Rendon, Ian Desmond, and [Jayson] Werth were all in the top 10 in extra bases taken. Meanwhile, Bryce Harper made eight outs on the basepaths and was the only National in the bottom 50 of baserunner outs in baseball."

The Nats finished the year with a "Net Gain" of 114, ahead of the Minnesota Twins (109) and Oakland Athletics (93) on the list of the top 10 in "Team Baserunning" for 2014.