Sunday, February 04, 2007

Base Running: Bases Taken When Ball Not Hit

In my previous posts, I presented charts showing how many times the Tigers took extra bases on hits ,advanced on infield grounders and advanced on air outs caught by outfielders in 2006. In another post, I added number of outs made trying to advance into the equation. Today, I'll look at how many times bases were taken on plays where the ball was not hit anywhere.

The most obvious case of a base taken on a ball not hit is a stolen base, a stat which has been tracked for a long time. Runners can also move up on wild pitches(WP), passed balls (PB) and balks (BK). It is questionable whether base runners should get credit for moving up on these events but I believe that they are caused, in part, by base runners distracting pitchers and catchers and that good base runners will cause more of them.

Runners can also make outs on pitches that are not hit anywhere. They can be caught stealing, picked off or can be thrown out attempting to move up on a wild pitch or passed ball. The latter two events are not common. In the previous post, I gave a weight of 3 to outs made trying to advance on hits, ground outs or air outs. Being caught stealing or picked off is a usually a little less damaging because it most often happens when a runner is attempting to get into scoring position as opposed to already being in scoring position.

Most analysts agree that the break even point for stolen base success rate is 70%. That is, you need to get 7 stolen bases for every 3 times caught stealing in order to make a positive contribution to your team's offense. Thus, I will penalize a runner 2.3 bases for each out. For example, Curtis Granderson took 25 bases in 2006 (9 on stolen bases, 13 on wild pitches 3 on balks). He was thrown out 7 times so his net bases gained (BG) was 25 - 2.3 x 7 = 9.

I also wanted to take number of opportunities into account. As a proxy for true opportunities, I used times on base (TOB) not including home runs. The statistic in the final column - BGA (or Bases Gained Average) is BG/TOB. Granderson had a .041 BGA which means he gained a base 4.1% of the time he was on base.

The table below shows that the Tigers took only 146 bases compared to MLB average of 198. This is not too surprising since the Tigers were also on base less often than MLB average (1,921 vs. 2,363). However they were thrown out almost as often as MLB average (50 vs. 52). Thus, they had far fewer bases gained (31 vs. 79) and a BGA only about half the MLB average (.016 vs. .033). So, while the Tigers did fairly well relative to the typical MLB on hit, ground out and air out advancement, they did not do well at all on the bases when the ball was not hit.

The Tigers individual BGA leaders were Curtis Granderson (.041), Ivan Rodriguez (.040) and Omar Infante (.040). The rest of the team was well below league average with the worst offenders being Craig Monroe (-.005), Brandon Inge (-.004) and Marcus Thames (.004).

Next time, I will construct an algorithm which combines all base advancement into one base running measure.

The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by
Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at "www.retrosheet.org".

Table: Bases Gained on plays where balls were not hit

Player

Times on Base

SB

WP

PB

BK

Bases Taken

Outs

Bases Gained

BGA

Granderson

217

9

13

0

3

25

7

9

0.041

Rodriguez

194

8

8

1

0

17

4

8

0.040

Infante

86

3

3

2

0

8

2

3

0.040

Shelton

131

1

5

1

0

7

2

2

0.018

Guillen

247

20

8

2

2

32

12

4

0.018

Ordonez

221

1

11

1

0

13

4

4

0.017

Polanco

173

1

8

0

0

9

3

2

0.012

Thames

114

1

2

2

0

5

2

0

0.004

Inge

188

7

4

0

2

13

6

-1

-.004

Monroe

166

2

2

1

1

6

3

-1

-.005

Team Totals

1921

60

68

10

8

146

50

31

0.016

MLB Averages

2363

102

74

16

7

198

52

79

0.033

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