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The stolen bases of Logan Morrison

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LoMo has been fairly active on the basepaths for the Mariners this season.

Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

It is June 25th. The Seattle Mariners have played 73 baseball games. And Logan Morrison currently ranks third on the M's in both stolen bases (5) and stolen base attempts (6). These five steals represent the most SBs that Morrison has ever had in a season (tied with last year); however, he'll probably get into ~80 more ballgames this season so it seems likely that LoMo will break his career-high by a fairly wide margin. Good on you, Logan.

Five stolen bases might not necessarily sound like a ton, but with stolen base numbers dwindling faster than the amount of affordable housing in Seattle, it actually represents a fairly impressive number. Right now, those five successful steals put Logan in the 69th percentile among all of the qualified batters in MLB. His numbers become even more impressive when you recall that Logan is a ~245 lb first baseman. In fact, over the past calendar year, LoMo has the third most steals among MLB first baseman.

Most stolen bases by MLB first basemen over the past calendar year
Player Team PA AVG OBP SLG SB CS SB%
Anthony Rizzo Cubs 610 0.298 0.395 0.558 15 6 71.4%
Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks 448 0.331 0.456 0.613 14 5 73.7%
Logan Morrison Mariners 584 0.261 0.322 0.405 8 3 72.7%
Adam Rosales Rangers 282 0.252 0.324 0.370 7 6 53.8%
Freddie Freeman Braves 658 0.293 0.383 0.467 6 3 66.7%

Somewhat strangely, stealing bases is a fairly new thing for Morrison. Back in 2010-2013 with Miami, when Logan was younger and presumably a bit faster/quicker, he had just three stolen bases in five attempts (over a span of 363 games). That's not a whole lot of runnin'. Logan actually equalled this number of SBs over a six-game stretch earlier this month. Since joining the M's, LoMo has 10 stolen bases in 13 attempts (in just 170 games). He's currently on pace for 11 stolen bases this season, which would be the most by a a Mariners first baseman since their inaugural season way back in 1977 (when Dan Meyer stole 11 bases).

To get a better sense of how/why/when Logan is stealing bases this season, I've compiled each of Logan's six stolen base attempts in 2015. From these, we can determine just how useful his fleet feet have been on the basepaths when it comes to swiping an extra bag.

(These GIFs were all made by the incomparably talented Jose Rivera, who uses a delightful combination of magic, technology, and aesthetics to create these moving images. Please consider following Jose on Twitter if this kind of thing is your jam.)

Stolen base attempt #1 - April 18th, 2015
  • Bottom of the 8th, 1 out, Mariners up 3-1
  • Logan Morrison advanced on a stolen base to 2B
  • Leverage index: 0.22, WPA: +0.004

ROOT's camera folks didn't do the best job on this play (and they failed to show a replay), but the commentators mentioned that Logan had a decent lead and got a good jump. Even if Chirinos fields this ball cleanly, Logan would've likely beaten the throw by a fairly considerable margin. In this case, LoMo gets himself into scoring position as an extra insurance run, which is nice, but this is a fairly low-leverage situation so the extra base only increases the M's chances of winning by a small margin. Morrison would eventually be stranded at second, but Rodney would pitch a clean ninth for the save (this really did happen) and the M's would win 3-1.

Stolen base attempt #2 - May 22nd, 2015
  • Top of the 6th, 2 out, Mariners up 4-1
  • Logan Morrison advanced on a stolen base to 2B
  • Leverage index: 0.41, WPA: +0.006

Again, LoMo gets a good jump and slides safely into second without any trouble. And again, he steals a base in the later stages of a game where the Mariners have a fairly sizeable lead. These certainly aren't crucial steals, but I reckon that sometimes a man just wants to get out and run. (Also, Mune sighting!)

Stolen base attempt #3 - June 6th, 2015
  • Bottom of the 6th, 1 out, Mariners tied 1-1
  • Logan Morrison caught stealing 2B
  • Leverage index: 1.78, WPA: -0.056

Here we have what looks like a failed hit-and-run. Unfortunately for Logan, it still goes down in the books as his first (and only) caught stealing of the season. Willie shows excellent batting form as he flails impotently at a ball a foot off of the plate while simultaneously stepping backwards in the batter's box. This is a technique that takes years to perfect and we are all so lucky that Willie Bloomquist is a part of the 2015 Seattle Mariners. LoMo still almost steals the bag successfully, with a good throw from the catcher beating him by just a step. In the sixth inning of a tie game, this stolen base attempt had a pretty high leverage index; Morrison getting called out was fairly costly to the team, decreasing their chances of winning the game by almost six percentage points. Fortunately, Austin Jackson (???) would hit a home run in the seventh inning and the M's would win the game.

Stolen base attempt #4 - June 15th, 2015
  • Top of the 9th, 2 out, Mariners up 4-1
  • Logan Morrison advanced on a stolen base to 2B
  • Leverage index: 0.10, WPA: +0.002

Here, a good throw probably beats Logan in a close play. He did get a decent jump, but the pitch is up in the zone and it should've been relatively easy for the catcher to deliver a solid throw to second base. Fortunately, Posey short-hopped his delivery and Logan just beat the tag. Austin Jackson would single a few pitches later and LoMo would come around to score, bumping the M's lead ninth-inning-lead up to four runs. This represents the only time that Logan scored after stealing a base this season.

Stolen base attempt #5 - June 16th, 2015
  • Top of the 5th, 2 out, Mariners down 1-2
  • Logan Morrison advanced on a stolen base to 2B
  • Leverage index: 1.17, WPA: +0.015

This is the only time this season that Logan has attempted to steal while the M's were behind. As a result, this play is Logan's "best" steal (in terms of WPA) of the season. He's just able to slide in under a high throw from Susac, successfully getting into scoring position while representing the tying run. Unfortunately, like so many things in life, LoMo's hustle failed to bear fruit. Seth Smith grounded out later in the at bat to end the Mariners scoring threat.

Stolen base attempt #6 - June 20th, 2015
  • Bottom of the 8th, 1 out, Mariners up 6-3
  • Logan Morrison advanced on a stolen base to 2B
  • Leverage index: 0.10, WPA: +0.002

Finally, we have Logan's most recent stolen base of the season, which came just five days ago against Houston. Again, at the time of this SB, the inning is late and the M's have a solid lead. Logan scoots easily into second after Castro drops the ball. LoMo would eventually be stranded at second, but the Mariners would win anyway.

- - -

It's certainly nice to have players on your team that are capable of taking an extra bag when the time calls for it, and Morrison has proven himself to be rather competent at stealing second base. Unfortunately, despite his above-average success rate, Logan's six stolen base attempts this season have actually combined for a WPA of -0.027. This is largely due to the fact that Logan is only 1 for 2 in SB attempts in ~high leverage situations. In any case, I think it's fairly safe to say that Logan steals bases out of opportunity as opposed to out of necessity. He tends to run in low-risk situations where the M's are already up by a few runs. Maybe these are the only situations where Lloyd trusts his first baseman to run (assuming Lloyd is calling these steals) or maybe these are simply the times when Logan feels comfortable running. He's certainly not the fastest person, but his forays on the basepaths have been far from disastrous, which hasn't always been the case for the Mariners this season. It'll be interesting to see whether pitchers start paying more attention to Logan when he's on at first base, or if he's able to and come up with a few big stolen bases in the second half of the season.

Go M's.