Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Base running 2007: On the fly

This is the third part of my series on base running in 2007. The table of contents for the entire series is listed below.

Taking the extra base
The ground game
On the fly
Stolen bases, etc.
Who was the best Tigers base runner?
Best base runners in baseball

In my previous posts, I presented charts showing how many times the Tigers took extra bases on hits and advanced on infield grounders in 2007. Today, I'll examine advancement on balls hit in the air to outfielders. There are three situations which present opportunities to move up on pop ups, fly balls or line drives to outfielders other than hits or errors:
  1. runner on first base only with less than 2 outs.
  2. runner on second base (but not third) with less than 2 outs.
  3. runner on third base (other bases may be occupied) with less than 2 outs.
If the lead runner advances to the next base in any of these scenarios then he gets credit for taking an extra base. As with hits and grounders, the probability of advancement depends on where the ball is hit. In the case of balls hit in the air, batted ball type and ball park are also factors. Dan Fox at Baseball Prospectus explains this in detail. 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 (as well as other Major League teams) almost never moved up from 1st to 2nd on balls hit in the air. The Tigers had 96 opportunities to go from 2nd to 3rd and made the advancement 24% of the time. They had 57 opportunities to go from 3rd to home and were successful 75% of the time. Overall, they had 301 opportunities to advance on outfield outs and they made the advancement 23% of the time. This success rate was a little lower than the league average of 27%.

Just as I did for base hits and grounders, I penalize a player for making an out while attempting to advance on a ball hit in the air to an outfielder. Again, I use a weight of three for outs in recalculating the percentages. The Tigers as a team were out 5 times trying for an extra base so 68 total advancements becomes 53 which is 18% of the 301 total opportunities. This is slightly lower than the league success rate of 20%.

Individually, the most successful Tigers in advancing on balls caught by outfielders were newly acquired Edgar Renteria (29%) and Carlos Guillen (27%). The trailers were Miguel Cabrera (0%) and Placido Polanco (6%).

In a future post, I'll look at stolen bases and other events not yet covered. Then, I'll combine all the base running information into one 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 outfield flies - Tigers versus MLB average

Player

Opp 1

Adv

Opp 2

Adv

Opp 3

Adv

Opp Tot

Adv

Outs

Adj %

Renteria

9

0

12

1

7

7

28

8

0

29%

Guillen

13

0

5

2

12

9

30

11

1

27%

Jones

14

0

7

3

4

3

25

6

0

24%

Casey

12

0

5

1

4

4

21

5

0

24%

Rodriguez

11

1

10

2

2

2

23

5

0

22%

Ordonez

13

1

11

3

5

2

29

6

0

21%

Sheffield

14

0

10

2

5

4

29

6

0

21%

Monroe

3

0

2

1

0

0

5

1

0

20%

Granderson

26

0

17

6

13

11

56

17

2

20%

Inge

14

0

14

2

5

4

33

6

1

9%

Polanco

19

0

9

2

7

3

35

5

1

6%

Cabrera

10

0

10

2

1

0

21

2

2

0%

Team Totals

148

2

96

23

57

43

301

68

5

18%

MLB Averages

129

2

90

26

60

47

279

74

6

20%



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