Thursday, February 01, 2007

Base Running: The Ground Game

In my previous post, I presented a chart showing how many times the Tigers took extra bases on hits during 2006. Today, I'll continue with a similar theme but this time I'll look at how many times runners advanced on ground balls to infielders. There are several situations which present opportunities to move up on ground balls or bunts to infielders (including the pitcher and catcher) other than hits or errors. I'll concentrate on three:
  1. runner on first base only with less than 2 outs.
  2. runner on second base only with less than 2 outs.
  3. runner on third base only with less than 2 outs.
Dan Fox at Baseball Prospectus says this accounts for 80% of ground balls to infielders. If the runner advances to the next base in any of these scenarios then he gets credit for taking an extra base. As with hits, the probability of advancement depends on where the ball is hit but for now I'm just going to count the number of times they moved up. I believe the best base runners will advance successfully most often throughout the course of the season.

Looking at the bottom row of the table below, we can see that the Tigers had 180 opportunities to go from 1st to 2nd on an infield grounder and made the advancement 37% of the time. They had 86 opportunuties to go from 2nd to 3rd and were successful 65% of the time. In 21 chances to score from 3rd, they made it 43% of the time. Overall, they had 285 opportunities to advance on infield grounders and they made the advancement 46% of the time. This success rate was slightly higher than the league average of 43%.

Individually, the most successful Tigers in advancing on infield grounders were some of the same ones who were good at taking extra bases on hits: Omar Infante 75%, Brandon Inge (64%) and Carlos Guillen (53%). The trailers were Marcus Thames (again) at 24% and Craig Monroe at 31%.

In future posts, I'll look at advancement on balls caught by outfielders and on plays when the ball was not hit. Finally, I'll combine all the base running plays and calculate a single base running performance 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: Advancing on infield grounders - Tigers versus the average team

Player

Opp 1

Adv

%

Opp 2

Adv

%

Opp 3

Adv

%

Opp

Adv

%

Infante

10

6

60%

5

5

100%

1

1

100%

16

12

75%

Inge

23

11

48%

10

10

100%

3

2

67%

36

23

64%

Guillen

10

4

40%

6

4

67%

1

1

100%

17

9

53%

Granderson

35

15

43%

15

8

53%

3

1

33%

53

24

45%

Polanco

20

6

30%

8

6

75%

1

1

100%

29

13

45%

Shelton

10

3

30%

4

3

75%

1

0

0%

15

6

40%

Ordonez

18

6

33%

13

6

46%

1

0

0%

32

12

38%

Rodriguez

8

1

13%

6

4

67%

4

1

25%

18

6

33%

Monroe

10

3

30%

3

2

67%

3

0

0%

16

5

31%

Thames

10

2

20%

6

2

33%

1

0

0%

17

4

24%

Team Totals

180

67

37%

86

56

65%

21

9

43%

287

132

46%

MLB Averages

222

76

34%

94

61

65%

20

9

44%

335

146

43%

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