San Diego Padres and the Pickoff Artists

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San Diego Padres and the Pickoff Artists
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

It sounds like they could be some sort of traveling act, and they may be coming to a town near you.

Simply put, Padres pitchers Clayton Richard or Wade LeBlanc could pickoff a ghost runner.

When either of the two lefties allow hitters to reach base, runners go from being in a secondary lead and back to the dugout within seconds.

No need to ask Florida Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan who probably has the best pickoff move in baseball.  Richard picked off Coghlan in the Padres 3-0 win over the Marlins Friday night. 

It was Richard's sixth pickoff of the season, which puts him with LeBlanc for best in the majors.

In fact, the Padres lead the majors with 13 pickoffs so far this season.  It doesn't take a mathematician to solve there being just one other pickoff that wasn't Leblanc's or Richards.

Leblanc actually picked off five baserunners in his first three starts.

Pickoff moves go as unnoticed in box scores and game recaps as they do to the leaning baserunners.

A pickoff move limits a runners ability to get a good lead and steal bases.  Good leads and stolen bases lead to more runs, more runs lead to more wins; you get the idea. 

Unless you were tuned in, it is difficult to notice how big of a role Richard's pickoff played Friday.

Throughout Richard's six shutout innings, several Marlins baserunners were heading back to first base as Richard delivered a pitch to home plate. 

Catcher Ronny Paulino had a two-foot lead at best at times. 

Before picking him off, Richard issued a leadoff walk to Coghlan in the third inning and then walked Gaby Sanchez.  Hanley Ramirez then lined a single to left field that likely would have scored Coghlan for the 1-0 lead.

The 13 pickoffs are ninth place in Padres franchise history—and we're at the end of June. 

The single-season record for pickoffs in a season is 16, held by Charlie Hough (1988), Charlie Leibrant and Terry Mulholland (1992) and Greg Smith (2008).

Of those four, only Hough, a knuckleballer, was right-handed.

The all-time record for pickoffs is a season belongs to the Braves, who had 39 in 1992

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