In these days of power – power hitting, power pitching, other aspects of the game, while not gone are much less talked about and sometimes forgotten.
One of those aspects is speed. Not speed itself per se, but what having it can do. By having speed, a player (and the team he’s on) can create pressure, and pressure can make the opponent nervous and cause mistakes. Last week in a game against Milwaukee, Kolten Wong got on base with Corey Knebel on the mound. Wong is one of the few guys on our team with some speed and is 6 for 6 in stolen base attempts. (The fact that he’s tied for the team lead in stolen bases with 6 132 games into the season, meaning we may not have anybody with more than 10 stolen bases by the end of the season, tells you how much we utilize the stolen base.)
Well, Knebel apparently knew about Wong’s speed, as he threw over to first 5 or 6 times. Whether or not Wong actually got a stolen base (he didn’t) the fact that he made Knebel nervous was enough, as doing so to any pitcher can affect their concentration and contributes to how well they pitch.
The above is why I think every team should search their system for a speed demon and put them on the bench. I’d make it a requirement, like having a backup catcher. All you’d have to do on the hitting side is teach the kid how to bunt really well. Sure, it’d be nice if the kid hit like Trea Turner, but even if he didn’t, he could use that speed to beat out a bunt or two, even if the infield is drawn in. Plus imagine the pressure a speed demon pinch runner would put on opposing pitcher in the playoffs, which are a pressure cooker as is. Say the Cards had a kid like that and faced the Cubs. Imagine watching Jon Lester deal with the kid in the playoffs might be the most entertaining thing *of* the playoffs…Just some food for thought.
As always, thanks for reading.