Mets see opportunity to increase team stolen base total

2022-04-02 05:57:09 By : Ms. Nicole Zheng

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PORT ST. LUCIE — Francisco Lindor was discussing the Mets’ new threat on the base paths Thursday when he assessed his own potential and set a goal of sorts for the team.

“I don’t have 50 stolen bases like [Starling] Marte does,” the Mets shortstop said. “As a team, if we can steal over 100 bags — 120, 150 — it’s going to be fun.”

For a reference point, consider the Mets stole 54 bases last season, led by Jonathan Villar’s 14. Lindor was next with 10.

But the addition of Marte, who led MLB last season with 47 stolen bases, has raised the bar.

Marte, when approached by The Post, chuckled when told of Lindor’s team goal. But after he stopped and computed the math (penciling himself in for 40-50 stolen bases) the proposition didn’t seem so outlandish.

“I’m always going to have the green light,” Marte said. “When you have a guy that has the speed and how I run the bases … if you do run and get out, you don’t have to worry about it. You get on base again and steal a base, so it doesn’t matter.”

Buck Showalter’s teams historically have been conservative in stealing bases. But in the manager’s final season with the Orioles in 2018, the team managed to crack the top half of MLB by stealing 81 bases, which ranked 12th.

“If it’s there, we would like the percentages to be in our favor,” Showalter said. “What happens is, when you have a guy like Starling, sometimes it takes the focus off some guys — I call them kind of ambush stealers. We all know Francisco is capable of that. We have got three or four guys if the clock is right and the matchups are right with the times and situation. But also with a batting order, you have to be careful with your batting order.

“Outs are precious. We’re not going to do it just to say, ‘We’re aggressive.’ Yeah, you are aggressive, but you are not very smart. It’s an aggressiveness in a certain situation.”

According to Showalter, players have the green light to run unless an “amber” or “red” light is flashed from the dugout. Those signals are conveyed to first-base coach Wayne Kirby.

There are times Kirby will explicitly tell runners to steal. In those instances, Kirby says he’s at least 98 percent certain the stolen base will be successful.

“In Jupiter a few days ago, I got on base, and I stayed on the base, and [Kirby] said, ‘What the hell are you doing here? Get out,’ ” Marte said. “That made me laugh. When you have a guy like that you trust to tell you if you go you are 100 percent safe, we enjoy the game.”

Lindor has also taken a fast liking to the new first-base coach and his methods.

“Kirby does a real good job of telling us when to go, when not to go, what move the pitcher has got, so we are prepared,” Lindor said. “When we get to first base, we are prepared. I’m looking forward to the regular season when we actually have time to prepare even more.”

Lindor said he expects to swipe 20-25 bases, some of them as part of a double steal with Marte ahead of him in the lineup.

“It brings fear to the other pitchers, to the opposing teams, because the minute [Marte] gets on first, he’s on second,” Lindor said. “I am taking the pitch. Most of the time he goes, I am taking the pitch. He gets on second and then all I have to do is focus on getting him over, especially if there’s no outs. If there is one out then I just focus on trying to drive him in.”