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  1. I can’t even see how there is any positive expectation in stealing third. When can it help?

    Comment by danny — August 5, 2010 @ 11:30 am

  2. My guess is that it’s from removing a force option at 3B if the batter reaches 1B without the runner advancing from 2B. And I think Dave’s numbers show why that’s rarely important.

    Comment by Sky — August 5, 2010 @ 11:38 am

  3. If Hunter stays at second, and then an Angels batter walks, the Orioles would have had a force at any base but home. It makes the double play more likely with runners at 1st/2nd than runners at 1st/3rd.

    Additionally, if Wieters had airmailed the throw into left, and Hunter had scored, that would have eliminated the chance of a double play entirely.

    But, these are really small, marginal gains. They’re barley worth anything.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — August 5, 2010 @ 11:39 am

  4. Dave — I think Danny was asking when stealing 3rd base can help (what situations would warrant an attempted steal of 3rd, statistically speaking, if any).

    Comment by spindoctor — August 5, 2010 @ 11:41 am

  5. Hunter has been poor all year on the basepaths. At this point Scioscia should have a permanent stop sign for Hunter any time he reaches base.

    Comment by stolenbases — August 5, 2010 @ 11:41 am

  6. 1 out, #8 hitter in the NL, early in the game. Wouldn’t this be a good opportunity?

    Comment by slash12 — August 5, 2010 @ 11:42 am

  7. I think Ichiro did the same thing in a game against the Yankees last year.

    Comment by Steve — August 5, 2010 @ 11:46 am

  8. I have a vague memory of Ichiro being CS at 3rd to end the GAME at some point, but I don’t really remember.

    Comment by Jamee — August 5, 2010 @ 11:50 am

  9. Sure, but the reason it was so stupid isn’t that he got caught stealing third, it’s that he got caught stealing third, in the 9th inning, with his team needing two runs to tie. Someone behind him has to score to stay in the game regardless, so it hardly matters if he’s on second or third base.

    Comment by P — August 5, 2010 @ 11:50 am

  10. He kinda looked safe, with the tag where it was. Not excusing anything though (when the throw beats you by that much, they’re gonna call you out regardless).

    Comment by Temo — August 5, 2010 @ 11:56 am

  11. Isn’t it just 22.5 times, 13.6%/0.6% = 22.5?

    Comment by Brian — August 5, 2010 @ 11:56 am


    not quite the same. but the M’s were down by 2, man on 1st and 2nd with Branyan up and 2 outs, and Ichiro got nailed trying to steal 3B.

    not as bad, but still pretty dumb.

    Comment by Steve — August 5, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

  13. he was called out just on principle.

    Comment by Steve — August 5, 2010 @ 12:02 pm

  14. I think Dave answered that question in the post…

    “Hunter would have had to successfully steal third 225 times to create enough positive change in win expectancy to outweigh the loss of one unsuccessful attempt. Even when you factor in the possibility of an error that would have allowed him to score on the play, you’re looking at a break-even rate of nearly 95 percent.”

    I don’t think anyone has that kind of expectation for stealing third, unless they have a perfect read on the pitcher and are stealing signs or something (ie, the pitcher is about to bury a curve or splitter in the dirt or something).

    Comment by Temo — August 5, 2010 @ 12:05 pm

  15. Was that a double steal? At least there it seems they were trying to get both guys in scoring position so a single can tie it.

    I’m not saying that makes it a good move, but I understand the “why” at least.

    Comment by JD — August 5, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

  16. “Really? You’re gonna run here? Gonna make me get my fat ass in position for this farce? I’m calling you out, you selfish bastard.”

    Comment by Temo — August 5, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

  17. Which would explain the 95% break-even rate.

    Comment by Miles — August 5, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

  18. Ahh, crap. Thanks. Gotta love decimal placement errors…

    Comment by Dave Cameron — August 5, 2010 @ 12:13 pm

  19. I’ve seen worse.

    Comment by Ruben Rivera — August 5, 2010 @ 12:29 pm

  20. Like the Spinach Iron decimal placement error that inspired Popeye. Or did it? Hmm…

    Comment by Jay — August 5, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

  21. Dave responded to that specific situation — down 9-7, man on 2nd, 0 outs, stealing 3rd.

    Again, I believe Denny was asking when stealing 3rd is a worthwhile option, if ever, statistically speaking. I’m not stealthy enough to figure that out on my own, so I will lean on those with the appropriate knowledge and skills.

    Comment by spindoctor — August 5, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

  22. Stealing 3rd has quite a bit of value if a team is down by a run and only has one out. Gets you into a situation where a run can score on a fly ball, rather than relying on a base hit. Odds of winning increase from 20 percent to 29 percent if you go from runner on second to runner on third with 1 out in the 9th inning when trailing by a run.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — August 5, 2010 @ 12:38 pm


    Thanks for the reminder. I love this so much.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — August 5, 2010 @ 12:40 pm

  24. It doesn’t matter if the third baseman tagged him.

    Comment by Marty Foster — August 5, 2010 @ 1:09 pm

  25. I don’t think so, b/c I think I remember him apologizing after the game. My memory is vague though.

    Comment by Steve — August 5, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

  26. Juan Pierre just led off with the game with a single, stole second … and got picked off 2nd on a Scherzer spin move, while Vizquel was attempting to bunt.

    This is just basic baserunning, and I would consider this a REALLY bad play. Fast runner, that will make it to third on almost any fair bunted ball.

    I don’t have my base state data in front of me, but I’d guess Pierre just took 1+ runs away from the CWS. runner on 2nd, nobody out.

    “Make sure he goes home” is the standard coaching phrase, and it’s a basic baserunning thing.

    I am glad to see pitchers taking outs without making pitches and getting themselves out of troubling situations. When you can, do it.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — August 5, 2010 @ 1:20 pm

  27. I’m fairly sure that this was worse. Not as far as hilarity, but sadness. The worst thing would be laying there on the bag in the middle of the diamond, knowing that you just got caught stealing as the final out of the seventh game of the world series. and at home too. OMG. 38,093 fans all staring at you going, WTF were you doing?

    Comment by Ira — August 5, 2010 @ 1:23 pm

  28. Tajada stopping to argue an interfience call in the ALDS while with the A’s a few years back was pretty bad as well. He would have easily made it home had he not stopped to argue with the ump. Then during the argument he was tagged out and never got the interference call. It was only the sixth inning, but it would have put the A’s up 2-1 in a game that latter went into extra innings tied at 1-1, and a win would have sent the A’s to the ALDS.

    Since he was basically 100% to score the go ahead run and the out ended the inning, I’m guessing the WPA (or WPL) was huge there.

    Comment by Wally — August 5, 2010 @ 1:34 pm

  29. I’m pretty sure that being the Bambino gets you a pass on things like that. He’ll win them a few others.

    Comment by Jamee — August 5, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

  30. The wosrt prediction of the off-season….The Ms at #6….

    Comment by JK — August 5, 2010 @ 2:22 pm

  31. Was Joe West the 3rd base ump?

    Comment by BX — August 5, 2010 @ 2:22 pm

  32. That gag never gets old with me, but it’s completely random and silly here.

    Comment by Franco — August 5, 2010 @ 2:43 pm

  33. Wow, I never saw that one just heard about it. That might be the worst. The only argument for Torii being worse is that his baserunning was thought out in advance while Ruben just had shitty snap decision making.

    The weird Cano and Posada on third base at the same time is bad too. (not the same level of Ruben or Torii though)

    Comment by Franco — August 5, 2010 @ 2:46 pm

  34. Perfect Dave, that’s what I was looking for.

    Comment by spindoctor — August 5, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

  35. One more question — what is the decrease in said situation if he is caught stealing?

    Comment by spindoctor — August 5, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

  36. Torii still doesn’t get it. “Don’t make the first out at third”? That’s not even the issue here, Torii. Had there been one out when he tried to steal 3rd, it was still just as stupid.

    Comment by Hard8 — August 5, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

  37. The Title of the article is the ‘the worst xyz of the year ‘ so JK was probably playing of that…

    Comment by The Title — August 5, 2010 @ 3:13 pm

  38. It is cliche.

    Nothing more, nothing less.

    Comment by Erik — August 5, 2010 @ 3:27 pm

  39. The difference seems to be that Cano and Posada both know they are bad baserunners and don’t attempt to steal often (if ever). Hunter on the other hand tries often and is thrown out more than he is successful.

    Comment by Bobby — August 5, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

  40. The only thing worse than that ranking is your complete lack of understanding of what the rankings were about.

    Comment by dickey simpkins — August 5, 2010 @ 3:36 pm

  41. Just as an aside, since we’re talking about the value of stealing 3rd and the Orioles happen to be kind of related:

    It also pays to steal 3rd when you’re Brian Roberts. Since 2005, he’s 60-65 when stealing 3rd, good for 92.3 percent. Last year he went 14-14 on 3rd base SB attempts, while going just 16-23 trying to steal 2nd. He’s talked many times about how he finds it much easier to steal third, and apparently that’s more than just talk.

    Also, it’s worth pointing out that it’s a fairly useful skill for a guy who’s averaged 46 doubles over the past six seasons.

    Comment by Ben — August 5, 2010 @ 3:41 pm

  42. I am a big proponent of on-base percentage, Sabermetrics, and FanGraphs. BUT, as a baseball man, you have to understand a couple of things. While the statistical odds are a great guideline, you can’t play by them in every instance. Remember, if Hunter gets to third, his odds of scoring go way up. They’d have 2 chances to get him in on a SAC or Fielder’s choice. He will score on every single, without the possiblity of a play at the plate (esp if the single was hit in front of him while he’s at 2nd). If he’s out at home, same effect. 2 other factors – the element of suprise may improve his chance of making it. And an experienced player like Hunter may sense the pitcher is slow to the plate, not paying enough attention, and may have a good idea he is throwing a breaking ball based on signs or where the catcher is setting up. If he makes it easily, or without a throw, everyone says it was a real risky play, but how great is Hunter for being so tuned into the game and sensing an opportunity. Remember, the Angels are not taught to sit around and wait for guys to hit a home run! They’re taught to get that first run in, make it 9-8, and go from there.

    Comment by Rolero — August 5, 2010 @ 3:57 pm

  43. No. Everyone – and I mean everyone – agrees that it was an irresponsible, ridiculous decision. Hunter, Scioscia, everyone. There’s no justifying the move. It was brutal.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — August 5, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

  44. wrong

    Comment by kamikaze80 — August 5, 2010 @ 4:23 pm

  45. In 1.5+ years I have been picked off/caught stealing 12 times and have made 12 other outs on the bases. So, while I might not have made the single worst baserunning play of the year, I am definitively the worst baserunner in the bigs.

    Comment by Elvis Andrus — August 5, 2010 @ 4:24 pm

  46. ok, Dickey, I’ll bite, can you actually in any shape or form, currently support ranking the Ms #6? I’m not even a basher, but that team is a mess and next year’s team is probably going to be a mess too. I get (along with everyone else) that the rankings were as much about future performance, but there was that whole goofy roundabout piece of the write up about supporting the Ms at #6 because they had a non trivial chance of winning a WS this year. anyway, sorry about hijacking the thread and feeding the fish, and talking to the troll…

    Comment by Max — August 5, 2010 @ 4:30 pm

  47. Don’t be making claims your ineptitude can’t back up, Elvis.

    Comment by Ryan Theriot — August 5, 2010 @ 4:31 pm

  48. Using Tango’s WE numbers (that are drawn from Markov chains, not historical data), the gain in stealing 3rd in bot 9, down 1, 1 out is +13%. Getting thrown out is -26%, which translates to a 74% breakeven point

    Comment by NWS — August 5, 2010 @ 5:19 pm

  49. Not as bad as Lopez getting doubled up from right field. Lopez…..

    Comment by payday0023 — August 5, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

  50. I hope you don’t teach young people baseball

    Comment by NWS — August 5, 2010 @ 5:26 pm

  51. “I always screw up some mundane detail like this”

    “Well, this is not a mundane detail MICHAEL!”

    Comment by Tim Kelly — August 5, 2010 @ 5:57 pm

  52. If you never try for an extra base you can never be wrong!

    Comment by Derrek Lee — August 5, 2010 @ 5:59 pm

  53. You would be right, if Hunter was the tying or winning run. In this case, they weren’t going to even tie the game until they had at least one more baserunner, who would have had to eventually score. Since Hunter would be able to score in front of the tying run, the risk of trying to steal third is completely unnecessary.

    Comment by max — August 5, 2010 @ 8:29 pm

  54. Tim Kelly if I could vote up your comment a hundred times I would.

    Comment by William — August 5, 2010 @ 11:39 pm

  55. Expected returns and probability theory says no.
    Joe Morgan probably says no too.

    Comment by William — August 5, 2010 @ 11:42 pm

  56. I agree with this dude.

    Even going by the criteria stated, can you STILL make a justification for M’s as being #6?

    Where is all this talent that is better than the 24 other teams? Where’s this great management? Are you going to refer to Figgins, Brantley, not signing Branyan then trading for him?

    I thought the M’s would be an exciting team to watch, but even then #6 as an organization is a big stretch, not unless someone has seen into the future and they really do make the playoffs 4 out of the next 5 years.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — August 5, 2010 @ 11:55 pm

  57. When I saw the title of this thread, I thought maybe it was referring to the boneheaded base running gaffe by Matt Kemp a few days ago against the Padres.

    With two outs in the first inning, Kemp was on 2nd, Loney on 1st, when Casey Blake singled to center. The Padres Denorfia made a good throw to nail Loney at third, and because Kemp was loafing towards home, he had not yet scored before Loney was called out, costing the Dodgers a run.

    This is the same Kemp who has 16 steals but has been caught 13 times, and ranks dead last amongst all center fielders in UZR/150.

    Comment by DJH57 — August 6, 2010 @ 1:22 am

  58. Tori hunter has been considered a possible hall of fame player by a few in his past.

    No one gets a pass for making the last out of the series getting caught stealing second. Ruth was hardly a fast guy.

    Comment by PhD Brian — August 6, 2010 @ 2:27 am

  59. I’m going to pile on, you’re wrong, wrong, wrong. Wrong.

    I really hope this was some form of satire.

    The move is indefensible.

    Did I mention you couldn’t possibly be more wrong?

    Please don’t influence our youth with logic of this kind, for the love of all that’s good in this world.

    Comment by twinsfan — August 6, 2010 @ 6:18 am

  60. At least Hunter made it to third. Jayson Werth danced around second last night.

    Comment by neuter_your_dogma — August 6, 2010 @ 9:18 am

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