Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Base Running: Taking the Extra Base

I have spent a lot of time this winter talking about hitting, pitching and fielding. Another element of the game which has traditionally not been measured well is base running. For the most part, the only statistics which have been used to measure base running are stolen bases and times caught stealing. This, of course, is only a small part of base running. With the recent development of play by play databases, it is now possible to measure base running far beyond stolen bases. For example, we can now count how many times a player goes from first to third on a single or from second to third on a fly out.

Bill James wrote an article in the Bill James Handbook 2007 detailing some of the work that Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) has done in base running measurement. Dan Fox at Baseball Prospectus has also been analyzing base running over the past couple of years. In one recent article, he critiques the BIS method and includes links to his methods. While, the BIS method and write-up are more fan friendly, the Fox analysis is more mathematically correct. I think both are useful and they seem to produce reasonably simlar results.

I have been mucking around in the retrosheet database the past week or so trying to do my own base running analysis. My method is really a hybrid between the BIS and Fox methods. I will present my analysis step by step over the next couple of weeks and eventually arrive at a system for rating base runners for players and for teams. Naturally, I'll focus on the Tigers.

The first thing I'll look at is taking extra bases on hits. There are three situations of interest:
  1. going from 1st to 3rd on a single
  2. going from 1st to home on a double
  3. going from 2nd to home on a single
The probability of success of course changes according to how many outs there are and where the ball is hit. Fox takes that into consideration in his analysis. BIS does not and I'm not going to do it either (at least not this year). I'd rather keep it simple for now. Over the course of the season, I think the opportunities even out so that it should not matter too much for my purpose which is to distinguish good runners from mediocre runners from bad ones.

Looking at the bottom row of the table below, we can see that the average Major League team had 250 opportunities to go from 1st to 3rd on a single and made the advancement 27% of the time. They had 72 opportunuties to go from 1st to home on a double and were successful 40% of the time. In 216 chances to move from 2nd to home on a single, they made it 60% of the time. Overall, the average team had 538 opportunities to take an extra base on a hit and they made the advancement 42% of the time.

The Tigers were better than average in each of the above mentioned categories - 31% successful in going from 1st to 3rd on a single, 51% succesful advancing from 1st to home on a double and 65% successful moving from 2nd to home on a single. Overall, they took the extra base 47% of the time.

Individually, the most successful Tigers in taking the extra base on hits were Brandon Inge (59%), Ivan Rodriguez (57%) and Carlos Guillen (53%). Omar Infante was also 53% but with only 19 opportunities. The least successful Tigers in this category were Marcus Thames (23%) and Placido Polanco (37%).

Advancement on ground outs, fly outs, and balls not hit follows. At the end, 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: Taking the Extra Base on Hits - Tigers versus the average team

Player

Opp 1-3

Adv

%

Opp 1-4

Adv

%

Opp 2-4

Adv

%

Opp

Adv

%

Inge

15

5

33%

8

6

75%

18

13

72%

41

24

59%

Rodriguez

18

5

28%

7

6

86%

22

16

73%

47

27

57%

Guillen

27

13

48%

6

2

33%

16

11

69%

49

26

53%

Infante

9

3

33%

2

2

100%

8

5

63%

19

10

53%

Monroe

23

6

26%

3

2

67%

18

14

78%

44

22

50%

Ordonez

21

6

29%

6

2

33%

21

14

67%

48

22

46%

Granderson

26

5

19%

13

7

54%

24

15

63%

63

27

43%

Shelton

17

7

41%

4

1

25%

8

4

50%

29

12

41%

Polanco

33

9

27%

5

2

40%

14

8

57%

52

19

37%

Thames

17

1

6%

3

1

33%

10

5

50%

30

7

23%

Team Totals

228

70

31%

61

31

51%

179

117

65%

468

218

47%

MLB Averages

250

69

27%

72

28

40%

216

129

60%

538

226

42%



Sunday, January 28, 2007

Interviews With Dan Dickerson and Dale Petroskey

There are a couple more good interviews up in the Tigers Blogosphere. First, Billfer interviewed Dan Dickerson for the scond straight season. Among other things, they discuss Dickerson's famous Magglio Ordonez AL Championship home run call.

Michael McClary (Daily Fungo) talked with Dale Petroskey, President of The Baseball Hall of Fame. I've been to the Hall of Fame musuem a few times and I learned from the interview that there is more to it than I realized. Michael does a podcast about once a week and he does an excellent job.

Average Fielding Rank for Catchers in 2006

In an earlier post, I introduced my system for combining fielding metrics. I rank players at each position on 4 fielding evaluation systems (ZR, PMR, DFT and Fielding Bible Awards) and arrive at an Average Fielding Rank (AFR). Today, I'll look at the catchers. I will not include zone rating for catchers because there is so little variation in the measure. Almost half the catchers had a zone rating of 100%. So, the catcher rating is based on the average of PMR, DFT and Fielding Bible Awards. Since I don't plan to rank the pitchers at this time, this will be my final installment in the fielding rank series. The other positions can be found at the links below

1B 2B 3B SS LF CF RF

The Table below lists Major League catchers with 600 or more innings in 2006. Ivan Rodriguez was the leader with an Average Fielding Rank of 1.33. He finished first in PMR and Fielding Bible Awards and second in DFT. Yadier Molina (4.67) and Miguel Olivo (6.00) finished second and third respectively. Mike Piazza ranked last with an AFR of 27.0.


Table 1: Average Fielding Ranks for catchers in 2006

Player

Team

GP

Inn

Best Rank

Worst Rank

AFR

Rodriguez

Det

123

1054

1

2

1.33

Molina

StL

127

1037

1

11

4.67

Olivo

Fla

124

971

3

10

6.00

Ausmus

Hou

138

1125

5

12

8.00

Posada

NYY

134

1050

3

16

8.67

Schneider

Was

123

990

8

10

9.33

Mauer

Min

120

1059

4

20

10.00

Martin

LA

117

1015

4

14

10.33

Varitek

Bos

99

822

9

12

11.00

Johjima

Sea

144

1173

9

13

11.33

Kendall

Oak

141

1254

8

17

11.67

Barajas

Tex

94

825

4

23

14.33

Napoli

LAA

94

716

8

23

14.33

Molina

LAA

76

603

5

25

15.33

Ross

Cin

75

621

8

22

15.67

Hernandez

Bal

135

1094

6

26

16.00

Navarro

LA/TB

78

654

7

23

16.67

Pierzynski

CWS

132

1125

6

24

16.67

Lo Duca

NYM

118

1027

3

25

17.00

Hall

LA/TB

82

628

2

27

17.33

Paulino

Pit

124

1047

16

19

17.33

Alfonzo

SF

84

700

12

23

19.00

Miller

Mil

98

840

11

28

19.33

Molina

Tor

99

842

15

26

20.67

Buck

KC

112

930

15

27

21.33

McCann

Atl

124

1016

19

24

21.33

Estrada

Ari

108

925

13

30

22.00

Barrett

ChC

102

852

18

30

23.67

Martinez

Cle

133

1110

21

28

24.00

Piazza

SD

99

718

23

29

27.00

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