Rangers not making mistakes on base
Base stealers have been thrown out a league-low six times
ST. PETERSBURG -- There is a plethora of explanations regarding the Rangers' ability to generate an American League-leading 286 runs.
Prior to Wednesday afternoon's series finale against the Rays, the club's No. 1 and 2 hitters -- Michael Young and Ian Kinsler -- have the two longest active hitting streaks in the AL.
Young's 13-game mark also ties him for tops in the Major Leagues, while Kinsler's streak of 12 puts him within baseball's top four.
RBI machine Josh Hamilton's Major League-leading 58 RBIs, in addition to a Major League-best 72 hits and 31 extra-base hits, certainly doesn't hurt either.
But what is often overlooked, especially on a team boasting an impressive OPS (.802) and on-base percentage (.352), is the Rangers' solid job on the basepaths.
Although the team's 28 stolen bases ranks a mere ninth in the AL, the Rangers have chosen their opportunities wisely, as runners have only been thrown out a league-low six times this season, including once in Monday's loss.
Kinsler is fourth in the AL with 15 steals and has yet to be tagged for an out, while David Murphy's five stolen bases ranks him second in the league among rookies.
"It's been great," manager Ron Washington said of the early baserunning. "I always say you can't say, 'Stay aggressive,' and not put up any mistakes. We've been running from first to third with regularity, we've certainly been trying to move up on balls in the dirt. [But] we could still get better, we could still do some things better."
Among those things, of course, is minimizing the caught-stealing mark even further.
Monday night's pick at third base saw Ramon Vazquez help squash a potential sixth-inning rally, the only legitimate shot the club had of upsetting Rays ace Scott Kazmir.
"Yeah, we discussed [Vazquez's steal], and now he knows," Washington said. "I told him I don't like that, I don't really want him to do it, but if he sees something and there's an opening, go for it. But you got to understand, that's not an excuse if you don't make it."
Although the skipper employs the green light with all his runners, he says that in certain scenarios, such as Vazquez's subsequent trip to second base on Monday, he tells third-base coach Matt Walbeck to hold the runner.
"I was a third-base coach [previously]. Guys used to tell me all the time, 'I can steal third, I can steal home,'" Washington said. "I tell you what, get it if you can get it, but if you don't get it, I didn't know nothing about it. So you got to be 100 percent sure on something like that, especially when you are down."
Despite Vazquez's obvious mental blunder -- he didn't get enough of a jump off second base -- Washington said he would take some outs in exchange for the obvious advantage.
The Rangers have stranded a league-high 431 runners, and if they can find a way to bring more runners across the plate, the offense could be even more lethal.
"When you talk about getting aggressive, you are going to sometimes run into outs," Washington said. "That's part of it, but it's been tolerable."
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.