Orioles finding plenty of success stealing bases

Orioles finding plenty of success stealing bases

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles' offense has been one of the best in the American League by many objective measures this season. Chris Davis has 19 home runs. Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy have put together lengthy hitting streaks this year.

But one facet of Baltimore's offense can sometimes get overlooked: baserunning. And more specifically, its stolen-base ability.

The Orioles are first in the AL in stolen bases, second in MLB. But it's not because they're simply running at every opportunity.

Only four teams have been thrown out trying to steal a base fewer times than Baltimore.

As a team, the Orioles have stolen 41 bags and been nabbed eight times, meaning they've been successful on 84 percent of their stolen-base attempts.

"I can't tell you it's something we went into Spring Training [with as a priority]," manager Buck Showalter said. "I did not like the stolen-base percentage we had last year. The year before we were really good at it."

Given how effective Baltimore's middle-of-the-order hitters have been this season, getting caught on the basepaths can be a big hindrance to the offense.

"That's the thing is, you can't be stupid," leadoff hitter Nate McLouth said. "Because with the guys coming up behind me, it would be foolish for me to make an out on the bases doing something like that. But at the same time, you've got to be aggressive."

McLouth has been especially good at nabbing bases this year. His 17 steals are second in the AL. And his 94.4 percent success rate underscores his ability to pick appropriate times to steal.

Derek Wetmore is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.