The Red Sox do not make any decision without a careful, detailed analysis of the pros and cons.
So when Terry Francona says that he would rather have his pitchers focus on the batter instead of worrying too much about holding runners and prohibiting stolen bases, there’s data behind it. Over the course of the season, that strategy will produce more success than failure.
The Sox, of course, would welcome Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek throwing those runners out. But not at the expense of the pitcher rushing through his delivery and inevitably leaving something up in the zone that gets tattooed.
That’s what leads to opponents having swiped 16 of 17 bases this season.
I checked it out this morning. Of those 16 steals, nine have led to runs scoring. But only once so far did a stolen base helped lead directly to a loss.
That was in Game 4 against Kansas City. The Royals won 4-3 and scored a run in the eighth inning thanks in part to a steal.
It’s impossible to say to what degree the Sox benefited by having their pitchers worry more about the batter than the runner. But they believe that over 162 games, it will make a difference.
That said, V-Mart needs a lot of work with his mechanics. His throws are high and sail off to his right. The Sox may not care too much about steals, but at this rate they’re inviting teams to run and at some point, the advantage could flip.