The Yankees’ secret weapon? Stealing bases

  • Senior writer ESPN Magazine/
  • Analyst/reporter ESPN television
  • Author of “The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty”

Spring training was compressed this year, seven weeks’ worth of work squeezed into a whirlwind of 21 days, and Matt Talarico had no real sense of what impression he might have made in his baserunning instruction to New York Yankees players — until a chance meeting at a Tampa, Florida, mall near the start of the season.

He saw a player he thought was Jose Trevino, who had just been acquired from the Texas Rangers — at the same time that Trevino recognized him. “You’re the baserunning guy, right?” Trevino asked, and that kicked off a 30-minute conversation emblematic of the care and passion the team has invested in what has become something of a lost art around the sport — a collective skill that has augmented the offense.

To be sure, the Yankees’ 66-32 record, best in baseball and ahead in the American League East by 11½ games, is due in large part to their major-league-leading 523 runs, a standing mostly built on an MLB-high 167 homers. But manager Aaron Boone and general manager Brian Cashman believe some of that is due to the team’s baserunning, to Talarico’s work.

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