Farrell has no plans to stop aggressive baserunning

Farrell has no plans to stop aggressive baserunning

Farrell has no plans to stop aggressive baserunning
TORONTO -- One of John Farrell's top priorities when he took over as the Blue Jays' manager in the fall of 2010 was to implement a more aggressive baserunning style.

Under the guidance of former manager Cito Gaston, Toronto played more of a station-to-station game and often sat back waiting for the home run or big inning to score runs.

Farrell wanted to put more pressure on opposing teams by taking the extra base whenever possible, and one of the concessions associated with that was the risk of also running into more outs.

"It was to be more diverse and to not be predictable or one-dimensional," Farrell said. "With that, there are some inherent aggressiveness risks that you're willing to take. [I'm] certainly not backing off of that."

The downside to the aggressive play is that the Blue Jays rank third in unforced errors on the basepaths with 98. They trail only San Diego (106) and Tampa Bay (102) -- two teams which implement a similar style of play.

On the surface, that seems like a high number, but Farrell believes the stats tell only one side of the story. The argument for an aggressive style is that it also puts more pressure on opposing pitchers and creates more opportunities to score by forcing other teams into making mistakes on the field.

In this case, Farrell believes the pros outweigh the cons and doesn't plan on asking his team to stop forcing the issue, except in certain situations inside of a given game.

"We know that we're probably going to run into more outs," Farrell said, "so we're fully accepting that in plays, whether it's going first-to-third -- where we're forcing the outfielder to make an accurate throw -- that's a risk we're fully accepting.

"Are there other plays that happen that are unforced errors that shouldn't take place? Yeah, there's a distinct line where an accepted aggressive out comes into play versus others."

One of those situations took place during Friday night's 8-5 loss to the Red Sox. Brett Lawrie was thrown out while attempting to advance to third base on a ground ball to shortstop Jose Iglesias during the eighth inning.

It was a mental error and Farrell admitted after the game that Lawrie was trying "to force it. ... He should have held his ground." It's the type of learning opportunity that is bound to surface with an inexperienced club, and the Blue Jays hope to become better for it in the long run.

"After discussion he recognizes in the moment as aggressive of a player as he is, sometimes that gets the better of him," Farrell said.

"That's the way he's wired. We can't give him something that's going to change him as a person. We have to continue to teach and point out situations where you have to think the game before just aggressively reacting."