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Speed isn't Pirates' Snyder's strong suit

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Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011
 

BRADENTON, Fla. — Sometime soon, perhaps even one fine day this summer, Chris Snyder will take his lead off first base and think, "Aw, heck, why not?"

Snyder will inch a bit farther from the bag than usual, stealthily lean forward, wait for it ... wait for it ... and away he'll go. Will the opposing catcher be too stunned to make the throw to second base?

"I think that all the time," Snyder said. "But I'll never make it."

Snyder, 30, has played 596 major league games in seven seasons. He has been on first or second with the next base open 731 times. He has never stolen a base — never even tried.

"I think I'm getting close to some kind of record," Snyder said, laughing.

He's not so hot in other speed categories, either. Snyder has one career triple. His XBT rating — how often he advances more than one base on a single or two bases on a double — is a lead-footed 29 percent.

To try to quantify speed, sabermetrics guru Bill James created speed score, which combines several stats to compute a rating on a 1 to 10 scale. The average is 5. Last season, Snyder's tally was 0.7. His career score is 0.9.

"That makes me the slowest player in the majors?" Snyder asked, shaking his head.

Um, yes, actually.

"That is not true. Absolutely not true," Snyder said. "Just because Yadier Molina has more stolen bases than I do, it doesn't mean I can't beat him in a foot race. I think I can."

Molina, of the St. Louis Cardinals, had a speed score of 2.5 last season. He has swiped 21 bases in 37 tries in his career.

Snyder considered that for a moment.

"I'll tell you what — Yadi and I will be pretty close," Snyder said. "But if Bengie decides not to retire and comes back to play, I guarantee he'll be the slowest."

Bengie Molina, Yadier's older brother, has a 1.4 speed score in his 13-year career. The 36-year-old is 3 for 10 in steal attempts.

Given their emphasis on speed and taking some chances on the bases this season, can't the Pirates find a way to get Snyder one measly stolen base?

"That's a topic of discussion that's already come up in camp," manager Clint Hurdle said, grinning. "It was brought to my attention. You know what• We've just got to be smart when we pick a spot for him."

Snyder frowned. You can't blame him for having doubts.

"They told me they're going to get me some bags this year, so we'll see what happens," he said. "But I've been told the past six years that I'm going to get some bags, and I couldn't do it."

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Pirates Spring Training 2011

Pirates Spring Training 2011

Images from Pirates spring training in Bradenton, Florida.

Additional Information:

On the run

Top major league catchers, ranked by 2010 speed score and with a minimum of 350 plate appearances:

1. Miguel Olivo, Rockies: 6.1

2. John Jaso, Rays: 5.0

3. Russell Martin, Dodgers: 3.5

4. Jason Kendall, Royals: 3.3

5. Kurt Suzuki, Athletics: 3.2

5. Mike Napoli, Angels: 3.2

7. Jorge Posada, Yankees: 2.8

8. Buster Posey, Giants: 2.7

9. Yorvit Torrealba, Padres: 2.6

10. Yadier Molina, Cardinals: 2.5

Source: Fangraphs.com

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