Nate McLouth stole two more bases for the Orioles in the series-opening game at Oakland on Thursday night. He now has seven steals on the year in eight attempts.
McLouth is tied for second in the AL right now with those seven steals with Oakland’s Coco Crisp, trailing only Jacoby Ellsbury of Boston with 10.
At that pace, he would steal 51 bases this season. The club record is 57 by Luis Aparicio in 1964.
While McLouth may not keep up this pace or threaten Aparicio’s single-season record, he is a nice base stealing threat for a team that ranked last in the American League in steals in 2012.
McLouth uses his speed, but also his smarts to steal bases. He stole 12 of 13 last season and said there are times he might be able to steal a base, but he may not take the risk to get thrown out with middle of the order hitters coming after him.
“For me this year, with the guys coming up behind me, it’s even more of a case where I want to pick my opportunities carefully. Why would I want to make an out at second base when I have those guys coming behind me? It is certainly better to have a guy on base than not. There is a fine line and I don’t want to be overly aggressive with the good hitters coming behind me,” McLouth said.
McLouth stole 22 of 23 bases with the 2007 Pirates and has been successful on 86 percent in his career. Does Buck Showalter often give him the green light to go?
“Yeah, pretty much. I work a lot with (coach Wayne) Kirby at first base and he’s very, very helpful,” McLouth said.
McLouth’s pregame preparation includes noting the time to the plate of the opposing pitcher for each game out of the stretch position. Plus he watches tape to pick up any other edge he can.
Showalter is confident that McLouth knows when to try and steal a base and when not to try.
“He’s a guy that is easy to trust,” Showalter said. “Very seldom do you see him push something that is not there. I think we want to be proficient with a high percentage than blindly run into outs. He understands situations as well as anyone, where we are in the game and when is a good time to take a chance.
“He got a steal the other night with a guy at 1.27 (seconds from the stretch to home plate). That is tough, but he saw something in his delivery that made him comfortable to go. He’s a good baserunner.”
The Orioles may not set any base stealing records this year. But in McLouth they have a smart player who knows when he has the best chance to be successful.