Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Tigers Base Running Improving

In an earlier post, I used the Baseball Prospectus base running statistics to show that the Tigers were 28th out of 30 teams in base running through May.  At that time, base running had cost the Tigers about four runs (-3.9) compared to an average team.  With the emergence of speedy outfielder Quintin Berry near the top of the lineup and a somewhat more aggressive approach overall in recent games, I wanted to take another look at base running today.

To review, Baseball Prospectus tracks several different types of base running advancement:
  • GAR (Equivalent Ground Advancement Runs) - Contribution of advancement on ground outs.
  • SBR (Equivalent Stolen Base Runs) - contribution of stolen bases including runs subtracted for caught stealings and pickoffs.
  • AAR (Equivalent Air Advancement Runs) - Contribution of base runners advancing on fly outs
  • HAR (Equivalent Hit Advancement Runs) - contribution of runners taking the extra base on a hit: first to third on a single, second to home on a single, first to home on a double.
  • OAR (Equivalent Other Advancement Runs) - contribution of other base running advancements - passed balls, wild pitches and balks (evidence shows that those events are not entirely randomly and are influenced by base runners to an extent).
  • BRR (Equivalent Base Running Runs)- the sum of the five above statistics above or total base running contribution.

The Table below shows that the Tigers have improved in all facets of base running since the beginning of June.  For example, the run contribution from taking extra bases on hits went from -2.64 runs below average in April/May to 0.45 runs above average in June/July.  For the season, they are at -2.19 in that category. 

Table 1: Base Running Runs Above Average

Through May
June 1 – July 2

 Overall, Detroit is now at -0.7 base running runs as of last night's game, which moves them up to 17th in baseball.  This is an improvement of 3.2 runs from April/May to June/July.  That may not sound like a huge huge number of runs, but it is the third highest jump of any team behind only the Phillies (7.2 runs) and Braves (4.2 runs).

It's hard to know exactly who is doing it for the Tigers since monthly splits are not available.  I was only able to do splits for teams because I had saved the April/May totals in my previous post.  However, it probably comes to no big surprise that the Tigers base running has improved if you are watching the games.  The leaders for the season are:

Jackson 2.2
Berry 2.1
Dirks 1.5
Santiago 1.0
Kelly 1.0

I don't want to overstate the importance of base running.  The variation in team runs created by base running is small in comparison to that created by hitting.  In fact, there is a difference of about 18 base running runs between the best (Atlanta 9.6) and worse (Kansas City -8.2) teams in baseball.  On the other hand the best hitting team has about 110 more batting runs than the worst hitting team.  Still, every little thing a team can do to score more runs is useful.  Thus, the Tigers recent base running improvement is encouraging.

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