Base running is a lost art. Once upon a time, stealing bases and concocting double and triple steals played a major part in the offensive game plan. While players have gotten more powerful, base running has become less of an important asset. Still, the base paths are the routes where players are going to score. Below are the ten worst players in the major leagues right now who are horrendous on the bases. NOTE: I have chosen to use a statistic called BsR (base runs). The statistic shows how well a player is on the bases in reference to how many runs the team should score. The worse the number, the worse you are as a base runner.
10. Kurt Suzuki — Minnesota Twins
Blazing the base paths is not something that comes easily or naturally to Kurt Suzuki. Granted, he is a catcher and catchers are not known for their speed. However, slowness isn’t the only attribute that contributes to poor base running. Many times, slow players can handle themselves just fine. It’s the decision-making on the base paths that really hurts them. Not only do players have to think while running, they also have to stay on their feet. In 2014, Suzuki was running home when he lost his footing, stumbled like a drunken frat boy, and fell face first to the ground. He didn’t even score, seeing as how his teammate was thrown out at second to end the inning. Suzuki is also known to have hit one of the slowest inside-the-park home runs ever. Maybe he should stick to singles or home runs from now on.
9. Adam Dunn — Oakland Athletics
Coming into the ninth spot on this list is a man who is currently third on the all-time strikeout list. Dunn, a lumbering 6’6 and 285 pounds, doesn’t make his way around the bases smoothly. In fact…he’s really, really slow. For a man of his size, long singles and home runs are what you’re going to get out of him (besides the many strikeouts). Now at the age of 34, the Athletics have to begin to wonder how valuable he really is to the team. So far, he has belted out 22 home runs in the 2014 season. While having the big man on the base paths, the team must find it difficult to drive him in. Adam’s BsR IS -5.7 for the season, which definitely brings up the question as to whether or not the A’s will bring him back for the 2015 season.
8. Adrian Gonzalez — Los Angeles Dodgers
Nicknamed “Titan”, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez enters the list at number eight. Sharing similarities with Adam Dunn, Adrian falls on this list not because of bone-headed plays while running the bases; he falls on this list for his lack of speed. Gonzalez is so slow on the bases, it becomes a hazard to keep him on the field when scoring opportunities arise. Back in 2011, Terry Francona was quoted as saying, “I’ve got to tell you, he’s the slowest player I’ve ever seen.” When Terry Francona, a man who has managed David Ortiz can say this, you know you’re pretty slow. However, for all of this talk of slowness, Gonzalez makes sure not to make outs himself. He is quoted as saying, “I’m really slow, so I’m sure not to make dumb outs…If there are any doubts, I stay back.”
7. Ryan Howard — Philadelphia Phillies
Ryan Howard, best known for his massive contract signing and commercials for Subway, is also known for his lack of base running skill. Though his BsR only sits at a -1.6, it’s still a negative number. Every game, Howard is costing his team runs while running the bases. Though he is 6’4 and 240 pounds, the Phillies thought it was a great idea to sign him to a 5-year, $125 million contract extension in 2010. Ever since then, his numbers have slid downhill. Howard’s getting older (34) and doesn’t have the energy and spring in his step he once had in the mid-2000s. It doesn’t help his matters on the base paths when he has trouble even getting to them. If Howard stays on pace for the rest of the 2014 season, he will end up with his third worst season in terms of strikeouts. His ability on the bases could have been a redeeming quality. It’s too bad he lacks the skills there.
6. Victor Martinez — Detroit Tigers
Bad base running is probably the only thing Victor Martinez performs poorly. He hits the cover off the ball, drives in runs like it’s going out of style, and is a great catcher/designated hitter. However, when it comes to running the bases, generating enough energy to catapult Victor around the bags quickly is another matter entirely. His BsR sits at an awful -5.2. Though his base running numbers are low and below average, it doesn’t seem to be affecting the Tigers too much. Compared to Miguel Cabrera, Martinez is 30 pounds lighter. Yet, his BsR is -5.2, whereas Miguel Cabrera’s is -0.4. It just goes to show you that height and weight don’t always have to severely affect your base running.
5. Brandon Phillips — Cincinnati Reds
Brandon Phillips is one of those players that fans either love or hate. With his unique personality and attitude on and off the field, Phillips has trouble making a lot of friends in the big leagues. It doesn’t help matters when he brings a -2.2 BsR to the team. In previous years, Phillips was a stealing machine (for the modern era). He stole 32 bags in 2007 and consistently put up seasons averaging in the mid-teens and low twenties. In 2014…he’s only stolen two bases. A slow player doesn’t steal 30 bases in one year, so speed is not an issue. Perhaps it’s a mental blockade, a decline in confidence. Whatever it is, Phillips does not impress on the bases. He has the speed, but not the skill.
4. Albert Pujols — St. Louis Cardinals
Big, hulking home run hitters seem to be a trend on this list. Some would think it’s not a big surprise that the big men appear on this top 10. They’re slow and can’t move around the bases. This is something that strikes Pujols. Standing 6’3 and weighing 230 pounds doesn’t help the situation. Pujols also has a strong, muscular build. He’s not a slim 230 pounds, but a muscle-bound 230 pounder trying to leg out doubles and triples. Granted, the man has hit 34 doubles, but how many more could he have if he were just a bit faster? His BsR is -3.3.
3. Billy Butler — Kansas City Royals
Butler is notorious for his bad base running. While racking up the blunders on the base paths, Billy is also really, really slow. He can hit the ball and has a decent number of home runs in his career. He weighs 240 pounds, which is a little on the hefty side. However, Billy just can’t seem to muster up the speed. His BsR is an abysmal -5.8. The Kansas City Royals are better off having a pinch runner in every time Butler gets on base.
2. David Ortiz — Boston Red Sox
“Big Papi”, as he is affectionately known by teammates and fans alike, should not come as a surprise on this list. Ortiz is a big, big man. Standing 6’4 and weighing 230 pounds, Ortiz is lugging a huge frame around the bases. Watching Ortiz run the bases is painful, especially as he has aged. When getting on base, Ortiz has a BsR of -6.2. That equates to a lot of runners who aren’t scoring or advancing the bases as they should. David tends to hold runners up behind him, and this is never a good thing. Though Ortiz makes up for it in home runs and pure power, his base running abilities are still low.
1. Alex Avila — Detroit Tigers
He’s the worst base runner Major League Baseball has seen in a long time. There’s just no nice way of putting it. Avila makes horrible base running blunders, including getting caught in rundowns and making rash decisions. The numbers back this up, with Avila putting up an atrocious -8.8 BsR. When Avila is running the bases, you know something interesting is going to happen. And not in a good way.