To start the season, I had the No. 50 in my mind when it came to how many bases I wanted to steal this year. I think it is an attainable goal. To get there, a lot of things have to go my way. I have to continue to get on base at a high rate, and I have to get on base when the situations are conducive to running.
a I feel if I get 50, it will be a successful year on the basepaths. If not, and I come up a little short, that will be fine also. As a competitor, you want to always try to get as many as you can, whether you are talking stolen bases or runs or hits. A lot of factors can lead you not to trying to, or wanting to, steal a base. But I try to go when I can.
Running has always been a big part of my game, even when I was a kid. I have always been fortunate to have good speed. One of the great things is that I can bring speed to the park every day. You aren't always going to get hits, you aren't always going to contribute at the plate, but playing solid defense and running well are some aspects that I can realistically bring each and every day. I pride myself on that. Getting on base and using that speed is a good way to help your team win games.
When it comes to stealing bases at any level, there is a lot more to it than just pure speed. It is about anticipating, picking the right guy and the right pitches to run on and getting good jumps from the bases. I have known a lot of guys who are extremely fast, but they weren't necessarily great basestealers. Again, I am fortunate to have the good speed, but I have put in a lot of effort to become a good base stealer.
Something else that is important when stealing bases is your success rate. When you run as much as I do, you know you are going to get thrown out some -- but that is part of the risk. They say the rule of thumb is to be safe 80 percent of the time. I try to stay above that rate.
I had some good stolen-base totals in the Minors. But I think the biggest difference between stealing a base at the big league level compared to stealing a base down there is that the pitchers are not as knowledgeable about holding runners on in the Minors. Here, they vary their times and they slide-step more compared to the Minors. There, pitchers are more concerned with throwing strikes and going after the hitter. That is important here, too, obviously, but the Major League pitchers are just more polished.
There are a lot of guys whom I like to watch steal bases. In the National League, you have guys like Jose Reyes, Michael Bourn and Ian Desmond. Those guys are all exciting to watch. They are fast. They all know what they are doing, and they get great jumps. When you see guys steal as many bases as they do, you know they have that bit of art mastered. As a basestealer myself, I appreciate what they can do.
Stealing bases is still something I am getting better at. The longer I am in this league, the more I will learn about it.
Reds outfielder Drew Stubbs leads the Reds in stolen bases with 21, which ranks tied for third in the NL. Last year, he stole 30 bases and he has stolen as many as 46 bases in a season in the Minor Leagues.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.