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Should someone be fired for the Phillies' inept baserunning?
by Scott Butler 11/2/16

Odubel Herrera stealing

The Phillies scored 39 less runs than any other major league team in 2016 and had the lowest OPS in baseball in 2016. They also had the 7th most strikeouts, only one team walked less, only one team had a worse on-base percentage, and only one team had a worst slugging percentage.

What happens to teams like that? They fire their hitting coaches, that’s what.

Steve Henderson was fired by the Phillies recently (update: Matt Stairs will take his place next season), which should come as no surprise considering the Phillies were the worst offense in baseball. Hitting coaches take the blame when hitters don't perform. That's just the way it works.

Shouldn't the same be true with baserunning coaches? Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez are two of the worst base stealers in the game. Speed is not the issue, so it either comes down to poor instincts, poor instruction, or a combination of both.

It wasn't too long ago when the Phillies' running game dominated major league baseball in historic fashion, and it all started when the Phillies hired Davy Lopes as their first base coach/baserunning coach in 2007.

In each of his Lopes' four seasons as the Phillies' first base coach, the team led the majors in stolen base percentage, including an all-time Major League record of 87.9% in 2007.

A Phillies player led the league in stolen base percentage 3 years in a row under Lopes' watchful eye in 2008 (Jayson Werth - tied), 2009 (Chase Utley), and 2010 (Rollins).

That's why it was a bit baffling when the Phillies let Lopes go after the 2010 season, but the Phillies continued their efficient ways after Lopes left.

The end result was a Phillies team with the best stolen base percentage in baseball for six straight years from 2007-2012.

And it doesn't end there. Get this:

Chase Utley has the 2nd best career stolen rate percentage in the history of baseball, Jayson Werth ranks third all-time, Shane Victorino ranks 16th, and Jimmy Rollins ranks 30th.

The 2016 Phillies didn't even deserve to wipe the uniforms of those incredible players. Despite having a decent amount of speed on the roster, the Phillies ranked 19th in stolen base rate last season.

It gets uglier when you break it down to the individual level.

Among the 116 players with 10 or more stolen base attempts, Odubel Herrera ranked 45th, Cesar Hernandez was the 10th worst, and Peter Bourjos was tied for 13th worst.

Among the 51 players with 20 or more stolen base attempts, Peter Bourjos drops off the list, Odubel Herrera ranked 23rd, and Cesar Hernandez was the worst.

Among the 23 players with 30 or more stolen base attempts, Odubel Herrera ranked 14th, and Cesar Hernandez was the worst.

Not exactly Utley and Rollins now, are they?

The 2007 Phillies led the league with an 88% success rate compared to 68% in 2016. To give some perspective, if the Phillies maintained an 88% success rate in 2016, they would have stolen 28 more bases and saved 28 outs on the basepaths. That's a huge disparity and a trend that cannot continue, especially with the lack of power on the current roster.

Base stealing is kind of a chicken/egg type deal and maybe good base stealers are born, not create, but certain techniques are acquired skills that can be taught. That's why we have to point the finger at Mickey Morandini as the team's baserunning coach.

Maybe Mickey was dealt a lemon - albeit a very fast lemon - and he did a good job with what he had. But it wasn't enough. Either he needs to be fired, they need to re-arrange their coaches, or they need to hire someone else, but something must be done.

It doesn't take a guy standing near first base with a stopwatch to figure that one out.

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