Story gives the Red Sox speed on the bases
What really sets Story apart from the rest of the new wave of power-hitting infielders is his ability to steal bases. He has stolen at least 20 bases in three of the last four seasons, and in the one season he didn’t, he led the league with 15 steals in the truncated 2020 season. He’s an efficient base stealer as well, swiping bags at an above-average 78.7% success rate.
The underlying metrics back about Story’s elite baserunning. He debuted in 2016 with a 29.6 ft/second average sprint speed, which ranked in the top 2% of all players. Story has slipped a bit throughout his seven-year career, but his 28.7 ft/second average sprint speed in 2021 still put him in the 89th percentile of all major leaguers.
Even if he might have lost a step, Story will still bring a much-needed speed element to the Red Sox lineup. They ranked 29th in baseball in both stolen bases and stolen base percentage, and it was slow-footed catcher Christian Vazquez who led the team with just eight steals. The stolen base may be a dying art in professional baseball, but the Red Sox’s station-to-station approach is even worse than the average team.
Story has the potential to change that, but the question is whether he will be able to use his wheels. He will be likely batting in front of big boppers such as J.D Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Rafael Devers, who may not want a base stealer distracting them during their at-bats. Story doesn’t have the benefit he had last year in Colorado, where he had very little support in the lineup and the green light to steal pretty much anytime he wanted.
Even if he’s not stealing bases at the same frequency in Colorado, Story’s speed will still have value in Boston. Elite speed affects the game in a variety of ways besides the raw stolen bases numbers. Story’s wheels will put pressure on the defense in a way that no other Red Sox player can, as even the slightest bobble could result in him reaching first. Story’s power will fit right in with a lineup filled with sluggers, but it’s his speed that could be a real difference-maker.