Catcher steals make a rare return for Dodger offense
By Jon Weisman
In the very first game after A.J. Ellis stole his first base in the Majors on Wednesday, Yasmani Grandal stole his first base as a Dodger on Friday.
Grandal, whose steal came in his 191st game as a Dodger, did have three thefts with the Padres in 2014. Nevertheless, to say this week’s sequence of events was unusual is an understatement.
The Dodgers hadn’t even had two different catchers steal bases in the same year since 2009, when Russell Martin and Brad Ausmus did it. Those also came on consecutive days, though it wasn’t quite so freakish, given that Martin is the Dodgers’ all-time leader in stolen bases for a catcher with 65 (not counting one as a third baseman).
As it happens, the Dodgers have three catchers on their roster, and all three have exactly one stolen base for Los Angeles: Austin Barnes stole his first base in the big leagues September 9 against the Angels. If Barnes manages to steal a base tonight or anytime before the end of September, it would be the first Dodger catcher stolen-base trifecta since 1991, when Mike Scioscia, Carlos Hernandez and 37-year-old Gary Carter each had one.
That was the year that Carter swiped the last of his 39 career steals, in 81 attempts. It won’t surprise you to learn that’s more than Scioscia had, though it’s hard not to be stunned to be reminded Scioscia had 29 in his career (in 53 attempts), including a 7-for-11 season in 1987. Only Martin and Johnny Roseboro have more catcher steals for the Dodgers.
After Martin played his last game for Los Angeles in 2010, Dodger catchers stole two bases in the next four seasons: Matt Treanor in 2012 and Ramon Hernandez in 2013. But behold, we’re in the midst of a veritable renaissance.