After not running much during the season, the Los Angeles Dodgers unleashed an underutilized part of their offense during the 2021 postseason.
L.A. ranked 17th in the league with 65 stolen bases during the regular season, which was an average of 0.4 stolen bases per game.
However, come October, the Dodgers set a franchise postseason record with 16 stolen bases in just 12 games; an average of nearly 1.2 per game. Their previous playoff record was 13. Cody Bellinger broke the record for after swiping the club’s 14th stolen base of the postseason in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.
A lack of speed was never a problem for the Dodgers, who had nine players who posted above-average to elite sprint speeds, according to Baseball Savant, but there was a clear shift to become more aggressive during the postseason to try to manufacture runs.
“I know these players better than anyone does and I know our team better than anyone does,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of asking players who otherwise did not do much running throughout the year to attempt a stolen base in the postseason.
“So if I don’t feel the risk is worth it, then I’m not going to make that decision. So, yeah, I understand both sides, but I can’t live in a world of if it works it’s a great decision. So I make decisions based on what I know of my players.
“If the situation calls for it, it wouldn’t be crazy to see Corey Seager steal a base, absolutely.”
Mookie Betts led the Dodgers with six steals throughout the postseason as he made it a focus to try to be more aggressive on the base paths.
“I think it’s just an element of my game that I can put on display right now,” Betts said after Game 3 of the NLCS.
“It’s not like we’re just slugging and scoring a whole lot of runs, so we have to find ways to manufacture runs. Part of my game is stealing bases, so I’m just doing anything I can to help us win.”
The Dodgers finished the playoffs a perfect 16-for-16 in stolen bases. Behind Betts, Bellinger was second on the team with five, Chris Taylor stole three, and Trea Turner and Gavin Lux each swiped one.
Seager ties Dodgers postseason homer record
Seager homered in Games 2 and 3 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, with the latter coming off Charlie Morton at Dodger Stadium. The blast not only gave the Dodgers an early lead at the time, but put Seager in a tie with Justin Turner for the franchise record of 13 postseason home runs.
Seager reached the mark in 61 playoff games compared to Turner’s 82. Turner had his postseason come to an early end due to a Grade 2 left hamstring strain.
Turner’s only home run this year — and extra-base hit for that matter — was off St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright in the win-or-go-home Wild Card Game.