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What's behind the Dodgers' better baserunning?

PHOENIX -- The Los Angeles Dodgers have been puzzled much of this season by an offense that has been near the top of the league in home runs and on-base percentage, but in the middle of the pack in runs scored. At the All-Star break, the front office identified baserunning, which has been abysmal by any statistical measure, as an area that needed to improve.

Two things happened when the Dodgers got to Oakland for a quick two-game series Aug. 18 and 19. First, Ron Roenicke was brought in to replace Lorenzo Bundy as the third-base coach. Second, the coaches convened the players for a team meeting and showed them the metrics the front office compiled.

Carl Crawford, who was just returning from a lengthy stay on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle, was surprised.

“I didn’t realize the baserunning was that bad,” Crawford said. “That was a surprise to me, but it was a problem. I just didn’t know we were in last place with, like, every stat.”

Since Oakland, the Dodgers have improved their baserunning dramatically. In the last 12 games, for example, they have stolen 20 bases, easily the most in the majors, and have been caught just once. It’s not entirely traceable to a team meeting, of course. Since Oakland, Crawford -- once one of the game’s most lethal baserunners and still a threat -- has been running well, and the team has added speed and good instincts with Chase Utley and Jose Peraza.

The rest seems to be pure mindset.

“We’re leading the way, stealing more bases. That probably made Jimmy [Rollins] want to steal more bases because he hadn’t been doing it before,” Crawford said. “I’d like to say we helped it. That’s what we’re trying to do, make guys more aggressive and run the bases better.”