Joe Thurston has cost the Cardinals several outs on the bases (and thus himself as a baserunner and potential run, obviously) this season. And when I say several, I mean a glaring amount, in comparison.
This subject was first broached on Twitter by Matthew Leach, the answer to which I was quickly able to find on Baseball-Reference.com, and Leach revisited yesterday afternoon after another transgression.
5 outs on base
Explanation: Runner is put out while making a baserunning play. Example plays: out advancing on a fly ball, out attempting to reach another base on a hit, doubled off on a line drive, or out attempting to advance on a wild pitch or passed ball. Does not include pickoffs, caught stealing, or force plays.
This is the most egregious of all of these numbers, particularly for a player on a Tony LaRussa managed ballclub. Thurston has run into outs on ground balls when he wasn’t forced, been doubled off while straying too far off of the bag, and the latest – on Sunday – was rounding second base too far with the not-so-fleet-footed Jason LaRue ahead of him (and don’t try to blame it on a late stop sign from Jose Oquendo).
Simply unacceptable baserunning at the Major League level, particularly when we find that Thurston’s OOB number represents 23% (5 of 22 total) of the baserunning mistakes made by the Cardinals this season. That is a large number for one person to rack up. Thurston is handicapping an already struggling offense.
Explanation: Runner picked off a base. May include cases they were safe on an error. Also includes Pickoff Caught Stealing plays.
For a guy with only three stolen bases, you would think that he wouldn’t be venturing far off of his current station, right? Wrong. Thurston certainly doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) have the green light from the manager, so why the big leads? Perhaps the better question, why all the leaning? Is he really reading pitchers that horribly? Is Dave McKay failing in his “BACK!” duties?
Obviously there’s a bit of kidding in that, but really Joe? Really? (Cue Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler.)
2 caught stealing
Explanation: Well, this one speaks for itself, I hope.
Everyone gets caught sometimes and Thurston has swiped three bases versus his two times caught. Let’s just say Thurston’s times caught are a bit amplified by all of his other shenanigans on the basepaths.
So enough about the baserunning gaffes, surely he’s making up for it with the leather?
9 errors – 7 at 3B, 2 at 2B
Give Joey Outs some credit here, as third base is not his “natural” position. But second base is not Skip Schumaker’s “natural” position either, and he’s committed only 5 errors there this season, including one in last night’s game. (And at least Skip’s hitting.)
For my money, if you’re going to be living in the .230/.341/.371 ‘hood at the plate, you better be a serious glove-man in the other half-innings (I know, I know – what are the other Cardinals’ excuses then, eh?).
It appears that for the near future, a perfect storm of sorts is keeping Thurston on the roster now and in the foreseeable future. He provides the ability to play multiple positions (some better than others). He is a left-handed hitting option off of the bench when necessary, which has to be the determining factor at this point.
Surely Brian Barden would be a preferable option in the field in late innings, no? It seems he certainly couldn’t be any worse in the baserunning department. They seem to provide similar production at the plate.
If only Barden could switch-hit, this would be an open and shut case, wouldn’t it?