Sunday, November 13, 2005

A New Base Running Stat

A lot of times when a baseball fan starts talking about slugging average or on base percentage or OPS when evaluating a player’s performance, another fan will ask, “What about speed? Those stats don’t tell you anything about a player’s base running ability.” This is very true. The only readily available statistic which tells us anything about base running is stolen bases and that, of course, is not the only base running contribution a player can make.


Researchers are now collecting more and more information about previously unmeasured parts of the game like base running and fielding. Much of this data is still not available to the general public but the Bill James Baseball Handbook gives us a peek at some new base running data. For each player, they calculated how many times a player took an extra base on a hit as a percentage of opportunities. For example, Nook Logan had 19 chances to go from first to third on a single and was successful 12 times. The other 7 times, he stopped at second. In 9 opportunities to score from second on a single, he was successful 6 times. Finally, he was able to score from first on a single or double in all 3 opportunities to do so. Overall, Logan took an extra base in 21 of 31 chances for a 68% success rate. This was the second highest percentage in baseball.


Now, a player has a better chance of advancing on some hits than others depending on the number of outs, the location of the hit and how hard the ball was hit. However, this should balance out over time. One year of data is probably not enough to draw definitive conclusions about base running skill but it’s a start. The top five for 2005, among players with 100 or more times on base, are shown in the following table.


Player

Opps. to advance

% successful

Aaron Boone

44

70

Nook Logan

31

68

Carlos Beltran

47

68

Ryan Freel

32

66

Cory Sullivan

43

65


The bottom five are shown in the table below.



Player

Opps. to advance

% successful

Matt LeCroy

23

0

Benji Molina

37

8

Chris Snyder

23

9

Tony Clark

26

12

BJ Surhoff

22

14


As you can see, Aaron Boone took an extra base a higher percentage of time than other player in baseball. On the other hand, Matt LeCroy never took an extra base in 23 opportunities.


The next table lists the Tigers.



Player

Opps. to advance

% successful

Percentile

Nook Logan

31

68

99

Ivan Rodriguez

44

70

70

Carlos Guillen

36

42

47

Dmitri Young

26

42

47

Chris Shelton

46

41

41

Placido Polanco

67

37

30

Brandon Inge

49

37

30

Omar Infante

32

34

20

Craig Monroe

31

32

17

Magglio Ordonez

32

25

9


The percentile column in this table shows where players ranked among others in Major League Baseball. For example, Ivan Rodriguez was as good or better at taking an extra base as 70% of the players in baseball and he was worse than 30% of the players. It’s probably not a surprise to most Tiger fans that most of their players fell below the league median or 50th percentile (43% success rate). This is an area where you’d like to see a Comerica Park team do a little better.

8 comments:

  1. Great stuff. By and large I wasn't surprised to see the Tigers fair poorly, but Inge did surprise me. It says something when your second best baserunner is a 34 year old catcher.

    ReplyDelete
  2. good stuff.

    this all has me flashing back a few years to spring training video of gibby showing runners how to take a proper lead, secondary lead, pick up the ball, and advance to third on a single. where did it all go wrong?!?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Given the size of Comerica Park and the difficulty in depending on the three-run homer, you'd think just getting on base and taking an extra base when you can would be at the top of the list. The Tigers don't walk a lot and we are not too speedy either. Great food for thought Lee. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm a bit surprised to see Infante so low, and to a lesser extnet Polanco and Inge.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I agree that there were a few surprises. Some of it might be small sample sizes. It's a new stat so nobody knows how stable it is from year to year yet. Just eye balling the league list though, it seems to work reasonably well. The speedier guys tend to be at the top of the list and the slower guys are at the bottom.

    I'd also love to calculate some team data. Hopefully, they'll put up the list electronically at some point so I can do some more stuff with it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This reinforces my "new Pudge so fast now yay!" observations from during the season!

    Also, let's kill Aaron Boone. Yeah. Let's do this thing.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Charles ListonNovember 16, 2005

    Could it be that we've finally seen a statistical measurement for "hustle"? One guy who really surprises me is Monroe, because I think he actually had a 50-steal season in he minors...how could he only get the extra base one-third of the time?

    Does James break down the unsuccessful situations into "thrown out" vs. "didn't try"?

    ReplyDelete
  8. They do include the number of times guys were thrown out. I was a little surprised at how infrequently most players get thrown out. Very few players got thrown out more than once or twice.

    ReplyDelete

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