Davey Martinez’s Nationals currently lead the National League in stolen bases (60), and are second in stolen base percentage (80%), having been caught stealing in 15 of 75 attempts.
They’ve stolen second base 49 times (1st), and third base 11 times (3rd-most), but they’ve also been picked off an NL-leading 13 times, and been picked off when stealing five times, also the most in the National League.
Their 31 total outs on the basepaths, as measured by Baseball-Reference.com, are also the most by any NL team.
“Part of our offense is to create havoc,” Martinez told reporters before last night’s series opener with the Phillies.
“We’ve got guys that can run. I want them to be aggressive, but I want them also to be aggressively smart.
“We cleaned it up a little bit because I took it upon myself really to kind of teach them when to go and when not to go, giving them signs, and like yesterday, not letting [Trea] Turner steal with [Juan] Soto up and just letting Soto hit.”
The scenario he was referring to took place in the eighth inning of the series finale with the Baltimore Orioles, when Bryce Harper doubled to start the frame, Turner singled, sending Harper to third, and Soto, after taking a first-pitch change, doubled on a fastball, taking it to left-center for a two-run hit that broke up a 2-2 tie.
“[Turner] could have stolen easily, but we told him just stay there, let [Soto] just hit, so it’s just kind of trying to teach them when they should run, when they could run, and when not to run.”
The teaching part, Martinez explained, consists mainly of just talking. “Talking to them and letting them know situations.”
With the Nationals struggling to score runs, however, he was asked if part of the problem with their outs on the basepaths is a result of his players forcing the issue and trying to make something happen?
“In Spring Training I always told them our objective is to get to third base with less than two outs,” he said.
“If we get to third base with less than two outs, we’ll score some runs, so they get it.
“That’s what they’re really trying to do. I don’t want to take away their aggressiveness, but I want them to learn when a good time is and when not a good time is to go.
“And those guys that steal bases, they’re going to get picked off, cause they want to go. That doesn’t bother me that much, it’s just the timing of when to go.”