On Friday, the New York Yankees’ dream run continued with a 15-7 win against The Chicago White Sox. The Yankees are on top of the AL East American League table with an amazing record of 23-8. The Pinstripers have paid keen attention to details in the game’s various aspects like defense and baserunning. However, the surprising aspect for the Yankees in the 2022 edition is how they have shut down the opponents’ running game.
Last season, the Bronx Bombers threw out only 17% of their opponents’ base stealers. The Yankees had the second lowest rate in the majors, conceding 86 stolen bases. The credit for the ninth highest stolen bases for New York went to Gary Sanchez, who only threw out five out of 55 base stealers. Moreover, Kyle Higashioka threw out five out of 38, Ron Brantly two of five, and five other pitcher pickoffs.
However, the Yankees have made several changes this season. The franchise traded Sanchez to the Twins. Higashioka and Jose Trevino have been assigned to catching responsibilities. Moreover, the Yankees have introduced PitchCom on the field to ease the communication between catchers, pitchers, and middle infielders. As a result, the Bombers have conceded the fewest stolen-bases tries(13) and fewest stolen bases(7), tied with the Oakland Athletics. However, the most unexpected change in the Yankees is watching the new coach, Luis Rojas, emphasizing throwing out base runners trying to steal a base.
How Rojas’s Restricting Stole Bases Strategy Has Helped The Yankees Run The Game?
The forty-year-old outfield coach was a part of the Mets’ team in 2019 and 2019, when they conceded most stolen bases than any other team. The Dominican baseball coach helped the Mets improve on controlling the running game during his two tenures as the team’s manager in 2020 and 2021. However, controlling stolen bases was not a topic of discussion when the Yankees interviewed Rojan for the coaching position in 2021.
The Bronx Bombers announced Luis as the new coach in November. Moreover, in December, Rojan visited the Yankees Stadium where he met the franchise’s manager Aaron Boone. The duo had a spirited conversation that involved the team’s analyst about controlling the running game. Rojas mentioned his progress with the Mets, who ranked 20th in the stolen bases last season, a drastic improvement from 2020.
Since then, Boone and his coaches have been actively discussing strategies to protect stolen bases during off-season meetings. The Yankees presented their plans to the players during the spring training. The plans have been executed perfectly by the players on the field. The Yankees did not allow one stole base try during their two-game series win against the Indians. Moreover, the Bombers only conceded one stolen base in their five games. Unfortunately, the Yankees lost the Division Series to the Rays.
Further, Rojan recalled that Jameson Taillon was among the first pitchers to talk about improving the running game in spring training. Taillon acknowledged that he was long in his mechanics, allowing opponents to run freely. Jameson also noted that pitchers need increased concentration as the running game is slowly starting to return with experiments in the minor league to find ways to enhance stolen bases. The 30-year-old also emphasized another benefit of controlling the running game as it disrupts the hitters’ timing. To conclude, the Yankees coach said, “I take it seriously. I take it personal. I tell the catchers that, I tell the pitchers that.”