There is a mutual admiration that speed burners have for each other, and Davey Lopes and Trea Turner share that bond. Lopes was one of the best speed men in the game, but he would be the first to tell you that swiping bases is more than just about speed. Lopes has been imparting his wisdom with his students for decades. In 2016, Lopes got Turner as a pupil.
In his career, Lopes stole 557 base and was like a fine wine where he got better with age. Lopes made his MLB debut well into his age 27 season and at the age of thirty-one, he stole 63 bases while only striking out 49 times that season. Think about those numbers for a second and then ponder this record when Davey Lopes was in his age 40 season, he stole 47 bases while he was caught stealing only 4 times which was a 92.16% success rate and the best rate of his career when attempting more than 15 steals.
“Basically there is an art to base stealing,” Lopes said. “What you do is you just don’t run…strictly on speed. You incorporate reading keys by that you read something on the pitcher’s body that tells you he’s going to first base versus going to home plate. The sooner you can recognize that, the quicker you’re going to get out of the box, and the better your chance you have of being successful of stealing the base. I try to incorporate that with the mental aspect of the game that comes in place as far as baserunning is concerned.”
We will re-print again what Turner thinks of Lopes in the quote we transcribed a couple of days ago.
“Davey [Lopes] sees stuff that nobody else sees,” Turner said. “I will get on first base, he will tell me the [pitcher] is doing this or that. I will look for it, and I can’t see it. He has that experience. Any little movement no matter how small, he can figure it out, and having those conversations with [Lopes] and learning from him will benefit me in that area. He may not be teaching anything revolutionary but if he just describes something a different way than I have heard before and if that clicks with me or my teammates or whoever he’s teaching, that goes a long way.”
What does Lopes think of Turner?
“[Trea is] blessed with exceptional speed, number one,” Lopes said. “Not very many guys can have that attribute going for them. Then when you put the confidence together with that you have a dynamic player and that is exactly what he is…he’s very good already at just about all phases of baserunning and base stealing, but he’s going to get better the more he plays, the more he’s going to [absorb] a lot of knowledge about base stealing and baserunning and become one of the best forces in the game.”
Lopes said that he will be working on technique with Turner in Spring Training as he got him mid-season last year, and did not want to change anything during the season. Lopes feels that speed plus knowledge are the keys to success, and Lopes own career proves that out.
Lopes will also have another pupil in Adam Eaton this spring. Eaton had 14 steals in 2016, and if you adjust Turner to 650 plate appearances he might have stolen 73 bases. Add to that Bryce Harper‘s 21 steals and Anthony Rendon‘s 12 steals, and you have a team that should be well over 150 steals for 2017.
The Nats manager, Dusty Baker, upon being hired for the 2016 Washington Nationals team, spoke incessantly about the need for speed and how speed kills. He knew when he was hired that Denard Span was headed to free agency, and Dusty made it clear he needed a speedy lead-off man. General Marnager Mike Rizzo obliged and traded for Ben Revere who rarely flashed his speed, and rarely got on-base. One of the keys to speed is that you cannot steal first base meaning you must be a high OBP player to get on-base hence giving you the ability to steal bases and score runs.
Baker got more than he could have wished for when Turner seized the opportunity and became the Nationals speedy lead-off man mid-season.
“I’m used to speed,” Baker reiterated when speaking about Turner. “I love speed. You heard me say that in Spring Training. Speed kills. And it does a lot of things, and it creates a lot of mistakes [on the opposing team].”
What would happen if Rizzo adds another speed burner to his 2017 roster? Could you imagine Jonathan Villar in this line-up? We can only dream.
Jonathan Villar se roba el home plate para darle la 1ra carrara a las @aguilascibaenas. Cortesía de @AFPSiembra pic.twitter.com/62rq8OWr94
— LIDOM (@LIDOMRD) December 28, 2016
Speed kills, and you cannot teach speed, but Davey Lopes can teach the art of baserunning. You go Davey!