Lots of teams like to say they'll run more at the start of spring training for the upcoming season. The Washington Nationals are making good on that so far.
Over the past few seasons, at least going back to Davey Johnson's tenure and through the Matt Williams era, the Nats have been more of a get-em-on and drive-em-in type of team, relying heavily upon the home run to generate offense. They should be able to do quite a bit of that this season as well, with 40-homer guy Bryce Harper -- maybe you've heard of him -- in the middle of the order.
But new skipper Dusty Baker comes from the old school. Despite all the talk that Baker has learned from his mistakes and how modern metrics are being integrated into his course of business, he still can't help falling back on methods he's used in the past. And that's for better or worse.
In Thursday's Grapefruit League game against the New York Mets, right off the bat we saw how Baker might want to help his offense along, whether they're hitting well or not.
Ben Revere, who has stolen 30-plus bases in four of the past five seasons, led off with a single and promptly stole second. After Daniel Murphy walked, Bryce Harper ripped a ball to right to plate Revere. Harper then stole second, and both runners scored when Anthony Rendon went the other way with one to bring them both in.
When the inning was over, the Nats had put four up on the board.
Later, Jason Martinson, Chris Heisey and even catcher Spencer Kieboom -- who has a grand total of three steals in four minor league seasons -- had stolen bases.
It's pretty apparent that Baker wants to at least make teams think the Nats are going to run more this season.
Fans love the stolen base. They're fun -- a burst of kinetic energy in the middle of what might otherwise resemble a chess match on certain nights. Maybe even a harkening back to a time when baseball was played by normal-sized humans and not the linebackers in stirrups we see so often.
But the speed game, and stealing bases in particular, can be a dangerous trap. Used sparingly, and in the right situations, the option to steal a base is a useful weapon.
But overuse counters the effectiveness at times. And we all know by now that to be an effective tool, players and teams need to be successful on roughly 75 percent of their attempts. The Nats were 5 for 5 on Thursday and 2 for 2 on Wednesday against Tampa Bay, with Michael Taylor and Scott Sizemore swiping bases..
For players like Revere, Murphy, Taylor and Trea Turner, speed is part of their game. Rendon had 17 steals in '14 and Harper had 18 and 11 in his first two campaigns. They have it in them.
We'll have to keep watch during the spring to see how much this stolen base frenzy continues, and if it can continue at its early impressive clip.
But all it takes is a twisted ankle, or jammed or broken thumb (or shoulder, looking at you, Ryan Zimmerman) running the bases to put a damper on an otherwise promising season.