Running Amok

We have almost all the facets of the game covered here at FanGraphs. We have wOBA for hitting, UZR for both fielding range and fielding throwing, FIP for pitching and some nifty WAR calculations for positional and replacement value. Sure we can quibble over the effectiveness of this metric over that metric for measuring pitching or what have you, and we will, but a recent story by Sky Kalkman at Beyond the Box Score reminded me of one component that we’re missing right now, base running.

The wOBA formula at FanGraphs does incorporate stolen bases so that aspect is already taken care of, but there’s more to base running than just swiping bags. There is also being speedy and heady enough to take the extra bag when possible off hits or sacrifices or really any situation.

Dan Fox does tremendous work in baseball research and he’s compiled some base running figures for Baseball Prospectus. The figures are free of charge and accessible here. Just make note that the final figure, EQBRR includes the stolen base component (EQSBR) so if you want to make some adjustment to FanGraphs values, you’ll have to add in the difference between EQBRR and EQSBR, not the whole of EQBRR itself.

Anyways, I just wanted to point out a few people. Ian Kinsler, Ichiro Suzuki, Jose Reyes, Chone Figgins, Shane Victorino, Matt Holliday, Curtis Granderson and Nate McLouth all chime in with five or more runs added via these base running events. Bengie Molina, Dioner Navarro, Prince Fielder, Casey Kotchman and Mike Lowell were all five or more runs subtracted.

The spread from best (Kinsler/Reyes) to worst (Molina) was a whopping 13.5 runs. It’s just another example of stuff that doesn’t really show up in the box score or even among most analysts discussions, but is important to consider nonetheless.




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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.


12 Responses to “Running Amok”

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  1. Samg says:

    Add to Fangraphs?

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  2. Mark Runsvold says:

    This really brings home the point Dave made in his “Boxes” post a couple of days ago. We all need to keep an open mind about the factors that comprise productivity. No one thing has primacy over the others.

    Ichiro has been worth the price of his contract for every year but one, yet Rob Neyer recently called him one of the most overrated players in the game. And Neyer is one of us.

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    • cpebbles says:

      Ichiro is overrated. He’s a great player, but a lot of people judge him solely on the things that he does very well and treat him like a modern-day Ty Cobb.

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  3. LB says:

    Mark R. when did Rob Neyer say that about Ichiro? I read his blog everyday and his weekly chat and do not recall him saying that. Just curious, as I would like to reread where Rob said that.
    Thanks

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  4. Petr says:

    There is some solid baserunning analysis of the Detroit Tigers here:

    http://www.detroittigertales.com

    A perfect example of a team that is supposedly an offensive juggernaut scoring less runs than a team due to a lack of baserunning ability.

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  5. MetsFan says:

    Is there any evidence to suggest that speedy runners create better situations for hitters behind them? If Reyes is on first rather than a nonstealing threat, does the next hitter have an advantage due to pitcher being preoccupied with him and forced to throw more fastballs? Once standardizing all the variables, might be sample size problems in testing this, but it seems like it can be done.

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  6. Sal Paradise says:

    There are these articles MetsFan:
    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/base-stealer-intangibles-part-1/
    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/base-stealer-intangibles-part-2/

    Conclusion:
    It’s 84% likely that a base stealer adds fewer than 3.2 runs over the course of the season.

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  7. Matt B. says:

    I don’t think the world of SABR has hated stolen bases, why would they? They hate the CAUGHT stealing. Efficient base stealers have always been in style…

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  8. Joe says:

    That is funny, because I was just looking on this site for base-running numbers yesterday and couldn’t find them. You guys do a great job here regardless though.

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  9. David says:

    Are there plans for a baserunning stat?

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