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Just two seasons ago, Matt Kemp stole a career-high 40 bases to accompany a league-high 39 home runs, 126 RBI and 115 runs scored.
Last year, and perchance thanks in part to the injury referenced in the preceding slide, Kemp's numbers began to slide.
As far as the stolen base count is concerned, some attributed the fall in part to decreased aggressiveness on the bases—and not just with Kemp.
Responding to allegations that he was "playing it too safe," skipper Mattingly described his 2012 managing style:
There’s kind of certain spots I like to hit and run because the club (is in) kind of a changing of the guard. I really don’t want to take the bat out of guys like Matt (Kemp) up there. I haven’t hit and run with him all year long, I haven’t hit and run from Dre, Adrian (Gonzalez)… it’s like in a sense you take the bat out of their hand.
Based on such rationale—that taking chances on the bases while Kemp, Ethier or Gonzalez-type players are at bat is akin to taking the bat out of their collective hands—one might logically conclude that the 2013 Dodgers stand no chance at aggressiveness on the basepaths, not with the addition of Crawford and deletion of a dicey hit-and-runner like Shane Victorino.
After hearing Mattingly's comments, broadcaster Kevin Kennedy allegedly stated, "that's inexperience talking right there."
Still, when Mark Ellis committed an incredible baserunning gaffe on October 3—thrown out trying to extend a leadoff double into a triple in a one-run game—the incident perhaps opened the door, allowing teammates' enthusiasm for aggressive baseball to sneak out.
Said catcher A.J. Ellis, "It's a great baseball play...a really good aggressive play, he was trying to keep the momentum going."
Ethier elaborated: "We've been playing aggressive baseball. I think that's how we got out of the funk we were in...Lately we started being more aggressive."
Changing of the guard indeed.