Pittsburgh hired Clint Hurdle this past offseason to work with a potentially playoff caliber team in the future. They seemed to hire the right guy then, and it sure is paying off. Although it's hard to determine how a team will do with just two weeks into the season, the fact the Pirates are being more aggressive is true.
Hope is shining for this young ballclub.
The 22-year-old Jose Tabata took the Majors by surprise, batting .299 in 102 games last year. He also stole 19 bases.
Although these stats are great for a rookie, the Bucs expected more from the 5'11" Tabata in 2011, and they have certainly gotten some support.
He has already stolen seven bases, after working with base running coach Luis Silverio this Spring Training. What's even more impressive is that his stolen base-to-caught stealing ratio at this point is 7:1 in 2011, which used to be 2.7:1 in his rookie campaign.
"Now, he feels really confident that when he takes off, he's going to make it. After a couple of steps, he maximizes his speed. He has explosive speed. He just doesn't look like it," Silverio said about Tabata, who told the coach that he had problems reading off pitchers.
Speed might one day be the ultimate weapon for this team, such as it was for the Texas Rangers last year. Did you see the postseason?
Home runs might have been a big part for the Rangers, but this is a start for Pittsburgh, a team that has been struggling for years.
Do not be surprised if Clint Hurdle encourages other guys on the team as well to steal some even more bags. If a .300 hitter in Neil Walker starts stealing, it sets up a RISP for power guys like Lyle Overbay and Garrett Jones. Also, don't forget about Andrew McCutchen, who stole 33 of them in 2010.
Is there a possibility this team starts putting down suicide squeezes? Certainly, as this tactic goes perfect with speed in the lineup that can reach third base on a single from first. Or even with a runner that can advance to third easily after stealing a bag to second after a single.
Of course, only if there are less than two outs.