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.

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