Dodgers Were Kings of Pick-Offs Last Season

A big part of run prevention is the ability to control the opposing team’s running game. Throwing out runners trying to steal and holding runners on is a very important aspect of the game for the pitching staff and catchers. It’s something that doesn’t appear sexy in the box score, yet adds up as the season goes along.

The Dodgers have been very good at preventing the running game the last couple of seasons. Catchers A.J. Ellis and Yasmani Grandal have been pretty good at throwing out would be base stealers. However the one part of that equation that the Dodgers were excellent at in 2015 was picking off runners.

Clayton Kershaw

The pick-off can really help a club in games especially in the later innings. It’s like getting a free out. The Dodgers led all of MLB in pick-offs in 2015. As you can see they led MLB by a wide margin with 21.

RK Team SB CS PK
1 Los Angeles Dodgers 85 42 21
2 Atlanta Braves 84 33 18
3 Seattle Mariners 65 40 15
4 Chicago Cubs 137 38 14
4 St. Louis Cardinals 54 29 14
6 Boston Red Sox 75 38 13
6 Chicago White Sox 75 30 13
6 Detroit Tigers 72 43 13
6 Los Angeles Angels 93 43 13
10 Colorado Rockies 92 35 11
10 Kansas City Royals 75 35 11
10 New York Yankees 71 36 11
10 San Diego Padres 122 60 11
10 Toronto Blue Jays 60 41 11
15 Pittsburgh Pirates 144 43 10
15 Texas Rangers 82 25 10
17 Oakland Athletics 78 40 9
17 Tampa Bay Rays 88 44 9
19 Houston Astros 87 27 7
19 Philadelphia Phillies 79 32 7
21 Arizona Diamondbacks 73 28 6
21 Baltimore Orioles 62 29 6
21 Cincinnati Reds 100 31 6
21 Milwaukee Brewers 104 46 6
21 Minnesota Twins 93 22 6
21 Washington Nationals 53 32 6
27 Miami Marlins 74 25 5
27 San Francisco Giants 82 32 5
29 Cleveland Indians 71 39 4
29 New York Mets 75 26 4

That’s a lot of pick-offs. Looking at the distribution of said pick-offs we can see that the king of pick-offs Clayton Kershaw had the majority of them with 9. The rest of the guys still had a lot too. Brett Anderson recorded 6, and Zack Greinke had 2.

Clayton Kershaw 9

Brett Anderson 6

Zack Greinke 2

Juan Nicasio 2

Carlos Frias 1

Alex Wood 1

Of course being left-handed always helps. Generally the lefties always have the best pick-off moves. Jon Weisman wrote a great read on Kershaw’s pick-off move with some quotes from fellow teammates and coaches. According to Weisman Kershaw made a NL high 127 throws to first. The Dodgers generally found that most opponents tend to run on Kershaw’s first movement after they reach base which usually ends up being their undoing.

Kershaw led the National League in pick-offs for three consecutive seasons from 2010-2012, and has the most pick-offs (55) of any pitcher in MLB over the last seven seasons. Overall Kershaw has recorded 57 career pick-offs. Anderson is no slouch in the pick-off department either. His 6 pick-offs last season were a career high and he has recorded 20 career picks. Newly signed Scott Kazmir is a bit of a pick-off connoisseur himself with 25 recorded during his 11 MLB seasons.

In case you were wondering the Dodgers finished tied for second in the majors with 10 balks.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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15 thoughts on “Dodgers Were Kings of Pick-Offs Last Season

  1. Nice post Scott. Sacrifices and holds by middle innings relievers are often over looked as well, but they add up to be a significant factor in a championship season. Often times, it seems a team have all the luck (like many feel the Royals had), but I feel luck has nothing to do with it. Granted there are fortunate bounces and blown calls by umps but they are minor in comparison to making plays that set a team up for wins. It is the “do whatever it takes to win” drive that separates good teams from great teams… here’s hoping Roberts can instill this attitude in all the players this year!

    1. Cheers Artie – nice of you to think of me. Last 16 now.
      Chelsea next on Wednesday.

      Looking forward to to beginning of April when my favourite sport begins.

      1. The Dodger bench really looked bad, after Murphy hit the HR off of Greinke, in that last game. The Dodgers looked like they were already defeated, after Murphy hit that HR, even though they had a couple of innings to either tie the game, or score two runs, and go ahead. In other words, they looked totally defeated. This is what I hope Roberts changes. Mattingly was way to acceptant, when the Dodgers didn’t win games, and things didn’t go right.

    1. Great, Scott. I’ve had a few surprises these last few days of good news. The best news I got was a fair step of improvement with my health just yesterday afternoon. So I’m feeling pretty chipper, friends! And after getting back in town it was cool to find Howie resigned. All players joining pitchers and catchers is on my birthday……..I guess unless that date changed a day like it just now appeared at SPLA lol. CHEERS!

          1. It’s actually going to happen later today Bobby. Earlier than I expected. It’s a great thing. Check in about an hour from now. Unless you are referring to Quasi’s surprise then I hope it is a date with Selma

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