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Washington Nationals news & notes: New rules; adjustments + more…

Notes and quotes on the Nationals and how they adjusted to new rules last season...

Davey Martinez’s club stole 75 bases total in 2022, 20th most amongst 30 MLB teams, but with a few more players who could run on the roster in 2023, and new rules in place which encouraged running more and stealing more bases, the Nationals’ manager said an increase in attempts was something he and his staff were focused on.

“We definitely know that the reason why they made the basis bigger and they did this limited pickoff, is so guys can steal more bases, but we’re definitely in on it,” he explained early this past season.

Martinez’s club stole 127 bases in 2023, 12th most in the majors, with CJ Abrams leading the way.

“Abrams,” the club noted in their Season in Review, “… ranked fifth in Major League Baseball (3rd in the NL) with 47 stolen bases, the most in a single-season in Nationals’ history (2005-[present]).”

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

It was a franchise-record-setting season for the young shortstop in the nation’s capital and the club as a whole.

“[Abrams] broke Trea Turner’s 2017 record on the final day of the season with two stolen bases against the Atlanta Braves,” the Nationals noted, and when Jacob Young stole the 124th of their 127 total bases on the year, the ‘23 Nats had the, “... most [stolen bases] in a single-season in Nationals’ history (2005-pres.).”

So what did Martinez learn about the new rules and how his club could use speed to their advantage going forward?

“Yeah, we’re definitely going to try to push the envelope a little bit more than we did last year again, but it’s part of our identity,” Martinez said earlier this winter.

“We got some really good young athletes. We get [Victor Robles] back and we got Young and we got CJ and Lane [Thomas]. Lane started getting it a little bit.

“So we’re definitely going to push the envelope when it comes to stealing bases, running a little bit more.”

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While we are discussing how rule changes affected players in 2023 and how they altered their thinking going forward, new Nats’ reliever Dylan Floro was asked, after signing on in D.C., how he adjusted to the shift ban put in place last season.

Considering he put up the highest GB% in three years (54.4%), but gave up the most hits he has in a season (70), it’s an interesting question.

“I think it’s more of an adjustment,” the eight-year veteran said. “It depends on [how] you’re looking at it, yeah, if there was a shift behind second base, and I gave up a hit there, yeah, I mean it affected me that way, but I think now, going into another year, I think it’s like kind of everything.”

“When the game changes something,” he explained, “... it’s hard just to jump and try to change right away from what I’ve been doing for the last five years. So, I think going into that now, I have a little bit better game plan and knowing: ‘Alright, we’ve got this shift, or we got that, or this person is playing here.’ Maybe it’s better to throw a pitch outside than inside, or maybe go high-in and throw it down low so he has the least chance of pulling it into that six-hole or five-hole or whatever.”