The Phillies offense stinks. They rank in the bottom five of pretty much every statistical category. There is one category where the Phillies rank dead last—stolen base percentage. With a team of quicker players (basically three center fielders in the outfield) without much power, that is unacceptable.
The days of Davey Lopes coaching first base and the Phillies leading MLB in stealing percentage are long gone. They are a far cry from the 84.5% success rate they achieved in 2008 under Lopes. Under Morandini, they currently steal bases with a 50% success rate. That ties them for last with the Orioles. That’s not so much of a problem for the Orioles as they bash the ball, leading the majors with 63 Home Runs. When a team hits the second fewest home runs in MLB, like the Phillies currently are, the lack of success stealing bases becomes more problematic.
The Phillies are a team that needs to rely on small-ball and getting runners in scoring position until Ryan Howard catches fire or they stumble onto a couple of power bats to add to the lineup. Both of which are unlikely to happen. Improving their stolen base percentage seems a more realistic option for the Phillies to remain competitive.
First Base Coach isn’t sexy and it’s kind of low on the team’s coaching totem pole. However, on a young, power-lacking squad like the 2016 Phillies it is a vital piece of the coaching staff.
Mickey was never a prolific base-stealer. He played eleven years and stole more than 16 bases in a season just once (26 in 1996).
Maybe I’m just being unrealistic comparing him to Davey Lopes. He’s one of the best first base coaches in the business. However, I do know that Lopes was always active on first base with his stopwatch timing opposing pitchers’ deliveries and passing along intel to Phillies baserunners. I’ve been to six Phillies home games this year and haven’t seen that same level of detail or activity from Morandini.
I kind of wish the Phillies would make the same move they made back in 2013 when they moved Juan Samuel from third base coach to first base. Samuel is smart baseball coach, but he was also a ridiculous base-stealer. In a span of seven seasons (84-90), he never had less than 30 stolen bases in a season. While Morandini and Samuel had a similar stolen base success rate of about 73% as players, Samuel simply has more experience. Samuel stole 396 bases compared to Morandini’s 123.
Juan Samuel also had the Phillies ranking 5th and 8th in stolen base percentage the past two seasons as first base coach.
For the love of Phillies fans everywhere, please move Sammy back to first base. Bowa can handle third for now. Maybe Mickey can be a bench coach. The team needs Sammy on first. We, the fans, need him there.