Torey Lovullo: Rule changes favoring baserunning fell into D-backs’ lap
The Arizona Diamondbacks were able to tap into some of their future potential in the back half of the 2022 season, stealing 67 bases post-All-Star break, the most in MLB during that span.
The D-backs were ranked 21st in that category before the All-Star break, but a jolt in speed came into the clubhouse with their youngest prospects getting more playing time.
Outfielder Jake McCarthy finished the 2021 season with 23 stolen bases and one of the fastest sprint speeds of all outfielders at 30.1 feet per second, per Statcast. Young and developing outfield prospect Alek Thomas is in the 95th percentile for sprint speed and top outfield prospect Corbin Carroll recorded the second-fastest sprint time since Statcast’s birth in 2015 at 30.7 feet per second.
With the new MLB rule changes that include bigger bases and only up to two pickoff attempts per plate appearance, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo definitely isn’t complaining.
“It just kind of fell into our lap, they made all these rule changes … they’re trying to create a little bit of offensive excitement,” Lovullo told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Thursday. “Like a little bit of stolen base excitement and now it fits right into our game plan.
“That’s who we are. We’re good hitters and we’re fast athletes that get around the bases as fast as anybody. … So we’re good already. But we want to enhance it by checking the rules and making it happen on a higher level and a little faster pace.”
With these rule changes already implemented in the minors, there was a 26% increase in stolen bases once there was a limit added on pickoff attempts.
D-backs general manager Mike Hazen also understands the potential and hopes that the team can adjust properly to the rules and can use them to Arizona’s advantage.
“I am hoping that speed and athleticism will be enhanced in terms of what we can do and we have a lot of that,” Hazen told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Wednesday. “I think we are a good baserunning team. I think we were one of the best baserunning teams in baseball last year. I’m hoping that continues this year.”