SF Giants unable to avoid dubious distinction in 2024 despite adding speed to roster

San Francisco Giants v San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants v San Diego Padres / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

On Thursday, the New York Mets swiped two bags in the first game of their doubleheader. Before that, they had no stolen bases in 2024, tying them with the SF Giants for last place, but now, San Francisco remains the lone team without a stolen base in 2024.

SF Giants unable to avoid dubious distinction in 2024 despite adding speed to roster

The Giants did prioritize speed this winter. Jung Hoo Lee, Matt Chapman, and Nick Ahmed are all above-average runners in terms of sprint speed. In fact, Chapman continues to be one of the faster runners in the game even if it does not result in a lot of steals.

Prior to these additions, the Giants had very few base-stealing threats. Perhaps, Austin Slater and Thairo Estrada were the only exceptions with the latter being the only true, high-volume stealer. On the other hand, Slater is more on the efficient side. In eight seasons, he has stolen 45 bags in 51 opportunities.

The Giants had hoped that they would see improvement from last season and they still could. It is very early in the season. In 2023, they were last in baseball with only 57 stolen bases. Baseball implemented rules in 2023 to encourage more running and many teams took advantage. However, the Giants were on the other side of that.

There is a big difference between sprint speed and being a good base stealer. Teams can be fast but not have enough stolen bases to show for it. Stealing bases requires good speed and instincts. Reading the pitcher involves knowing their move, what pitches they throw in different counts, and where they typically like to locate those pitches. If you are on first base and you know that a pitcher likes to throw his curveball low in the zone, that is usually a good time to run if you can get a good jump.

Anyways, despite the additions the Giants have made, they have taken a small step back in terms of sprint speed. In 2023, they averaged 26.8 feet per second compared to 26.1 feet per second in 2024. That number should improve as it weather gets warmer.

No one expected the Giants to be especially fleet of foot on the bases, but I think many would have expected them to steal an extra base or two. However, being more aggressive on the bases does not make a ton of sense if you are not successful in 75 percent or more of your chances.

For the Giants, this is one area where they have not excelled so far in 2024. On the other side of the coin, they are hitting for power. The Giants are in a three-way tie for fourth place in baseball with 10 home runs. It is far too early to analyze most numbers, but this is a good first impression.