The Dodgers hired their former second baseman Davey Lopes as their first base coach on Monday. When news surfaced a week or two ago that he may come to the Dodgers, my first thought was what will be his impact on Matt Kemp's SB total in 2011. Lopes was instrumental in improving the Phillies stolen base efficiency over the last few years, and I think Lopes first task will be to work with Kemp and his base stealing abilities.
Here is the Paul White on Lopes in an October 2009 USA Today article:
In each of his Lopes' three seasons with the Phillies, they've led the majors in stolen base percentage, including the best in MLB history in 2007 — 87.9% (138-for-157). They finished second or third in total steals each of those seasons.
The Phillies had four 20+ SB guys back in 2009 including second baseman Chase Utley. Lopes was responsible for making Utley the 5 category fantasy player he is today. Here is more from Paul White:
Stop is hardly the word that goes along with the device forever attached to the hand of first-base coach Davey Lopes, who has helped turned the Phillies into one of the most efficient baserunning teams in major league history.
"Davey sees things that no one else really sees," says Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. "Every day, he's watching the starting pitcher to try to find out any keys for us to steal bases, and he also gives us that confidence over there. If Davey says, 'Hey;' if he tells us to go, why not? We go, and a lot of times we're safe."
How about every time, at least in Utley's case? His stolen bases have increased from nine in 2007, Lopes' first season on the job, to 14 last season and 23 this year — a perfect 23-for-23.
In the 4 years Lopes coached first base for the Phils, they never stole less than 107 bases in a season, and stole 138 bases in 2007. Now that he is gone, will Chase Utley, Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins run as much in 2011? All three are 30 years old or older, with Utley and Rollins 32 years of age. Rollins and Utley have been injury prone the last two years, so I can see the Phillies limiting the number of times they get a green light on the basepaths in 2011.
As for the Dodgers, I have a feeling Kemp will have more success stealing bases in 2011, as will guys like Rafael Furcal, Jamey Carroll and even James Loney. Come 2012, SS prospect Dee Gordon will benefit from Lopes expertise in stealing bases as well.
I am curious if the Dodgers will now retain Ryan Theriot as their starting second baseman as he has stolen 20+ bases in each of the last four seasons with the Cubs. Could he steal 30 in 2011? I am also curious if the Dodgers will deal for a outfielder who can steal some bases, or if they will focus on dealing for a power hitting outfielder.