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Angels are running a lot this spring and manager Joe Maddon feels blessed about it

Angels' Andrelton Simmons (2) steals second base as Seattle Mariners' Patrick Wisdom catches the late throw during the second inning of a spring training game on March 4, 2020, in Tempe, Ariz.
Angels’ Andrelton Simmons steals second base as Seattle Mariners’ Patrick Wisdom catches the late throw during the second inning of a spring training game Wednesday in Tempe, Ariz.
(Matt York / Associated Press)

The stolen base is something of an endangered species in baseball, much like artificial turf and the doubleheader.

The stolen base is a casualty of analytics. Unless your success rate at stolen-base attempts is very high — say 75% — your chances of scoring a run are better if you stay put at first base and wait for a big hit.

The Angels are running often this spring, with 10 stolen bases in their first 12 Cactus League games. When Charles Barkley came through the Angels’ camp the other day, he said one of the things he liked about Angels manager Joe Maddon was that “we both hate analytics.”

In truth, Maddon embraces analytics, but he does so from the perspective of someone who has spent a lifetime playing and coaching baseball, not just analyzing it.

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Running into outs on the bases is dumb? Too simple, Maddon argues. The threat of running — even if you have to run into an out or two to establish that threat — can be worth it.

“Of course you don’t want to make outs on the bases , but there are times you have to be assertive in order to get other things that you want,” Maddon said. “When you’ve got a pitcher coming into the stretch, his concentration is now split. Advantage, hitter. Disadvantage, pitcher.

“The more we can do of that, legitimately, and split his concentration, that is going to benefit us.”

New Angels catcher Jason Castro played for the Astros when they lost 106 or more games three years in a row. He left Houston a year before they cheated in 2017.

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The Angels will not run blindly, but Maddon said they are blessed with players that have enough speed to run on occasion. He cited regulars Mike Trout, David Fletcher, Justin Upton and Andrelton Simmons, as well as prospects Jo Adell, Luis Rengifo, Michael Hermosillo, Taylor Ward and Brandon Marsh.

“You have to have guys who can run,” Maddon said. “You’re not just going to run people. If you don’t have a team that can run, you have to put the big gloves on and duke it out. If you can do those things — if you’ve got a contact team, guys that can run, and guys that like to do it — you can get this stuff done.

“Sometimes, it’s just about trying to make your team aggressive again. There’s no way for me to quantify this. I just know that, if we’re not running and we’re not scoring and we’re station to station — dead — and then all of a sudden, you do that, even if the guy gets thrown out, it picks up the attitude in the dugout. I’ve always been aware of that, even as a third base coach.”

The book “Moneyball” focused on the 2002 Oakland Athletics. The Angels won the 2002 World Series, with Maddon as bench coach.

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“When we used to play Oakland back in the day, when ‘Moneyball’ was very popular, prepping for them was easier,” Maddon said. “You didn’t have to do anything except worry about the hitter. Everybody thought that was a good thing. For me, it made our pitching and defense better.”

Be like Mike

In the department of two-word statements by superstars, the undisputed champion: “I’m back,” by Michael Jordan.

As of Wednesday, this contender: “I’m fine,” by Trout.

Trout was hit by two pitches in Wednesday’s exhibition game, the second time on the knee. He left the game, although he was scheduled to come out of the game at that point anyway.

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Since he arguably is the best player in baseball, the world needed an update on his condition. So Trout provided a statement to a team spokesman, who provided it to reporters.

Angels star Mike Trout and his wife, Jessica, announced they are expecting their first child in August with an adorable video on social media.

“I’m fine,” Trout said.

Angels social media guru Danny Farris worked up a big picture of Trout, with the words “I’m fine. Mike Trout” next to the picture, then posted it on Twitter.

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“Iconic,” Farris tweeted above the picture.

Slow Sho

Shohei Ohtani has one hit in 10 at-bats this spring, with seven strikeouts.

“He’s got plenty of time,” Maddon said. “I promise you he is going to hit really well this baseball season. For right now, the timing is off just a little bit.

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“Have you seen him hit well before? He’s going to do that again.”


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