At this point, being second in the National League in steals is dangerous.
Bae Ji-hwan (Pittsburgh Pirates)’s move in May is not good. Bae Ji-hwan started as second baseman 8 times against the Colorado Rockies on the 10th (hereafter Korean time), but only had no hits in 3 at-bats. He went 2-for-15 in May with a batting average of 0.133. He failed to get on base in three consecutive games starting with the Toronto Blue Jays on the 8th.
Stealing should basically be on base. Whether it’s a hit or a walk, he can only try after stepping on first base. If you want to hit base consistently, you need to manage your stamina and have the strength to overcome opponent analysis. It is really not easy to become the king of stolen bases through a 162-game long race. Bae Ji-hwan, a rookie in the major leagues, deserves applause just for holding on for over a month in the stealing race.
It is clear that Bae Ji-hwan had a hard time. In May, the batting pace has clearly fallen. In addition, there was also a bad news of an ankle injury at the end of the game against Toronto on the 6th, when he recorded his 14th base steal. Of course, it is difficult to steal if you are sick. He’s playing again because it’s not a serious injury, but he hasn’t stolen bases since anyway.
Fortunately for Bae Ji-hwan, Ronald Acuna Jr. (Atlanta Braves, 15 stolen bases), who topped the National League in stolen bases, has also recently faltered. After recording his 15th base steal against the Miami Marlins on the 5th, he failed to add a base steal in 4 consecutive games until the 10th against the Boston Red Sox.
It’s not that the hitting feels bad. Acuna was active against Boston that day with 2 hits, 1 walk and 3 points in 4 at-bats. It’s just that he couldn’t attempt a steal because the timing wasn’t right. He’s athletic, and he hits well enough to top the National League in a recent MLB.com mock MVP poll. In the long run, it doesn’t look easy for Bae Ji-hwan to overcome Acuna.
The problem is that Bae Ji-hwan has other competitors. While Bae Ji-hwan hesitates, the players who threaten Bae Ji-hwan stand out. The representative player is Jazz Chisom Jr. (Miami). G-Zom Jr. recorded 13 stolen bases by stealing two bases during the Arizona Diamondbacks expedition that day. It has been a long time since I stole 2 bases against the Chicago Cubs on April 29th. 스포츠토토
Chijom Jr. has a batting average of 0.227, 5 homers, 14 RBIs, 14 runs, and an OPS of 0.661 in 36 games this season. Like Bae Ji-hwan, it is difficult to see his batting ability as superior. Debuted in the major leagues in 2020, batting average 0.240, 39 homers, 118 RBIs, 131 runs scored, 50 stolen bases, and OPS 0.740 in 241 games. He recorded 23 steals in 2021 and 12 steals in 2022, respectively. He is poised to record a career high in stolen bases this year.
In addition, Nico Horner (Chicago Cubs, 12 stolen bases) ranked 4th in the National League stealing bases, and Corbin Carroll (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Tyro Estrada (San Francisco Giants, more than 10 bases) ranked 5th. Esteuri Ruiz (Oakland Athletics, 17 stolen bases) ranks first in the major league stolen bases, including the American League. Ruiz is on a steep rise with 6 steals in May, including 1 steal against the New York Yankees on the 9th.