Running the Bases – Part 3: The Laggards

Yesterday we looked at the best baserunners of the 2009 season; now let’s finish up by looking at the laggards. Again, these numbers are taken from Baseball Prospectus’ baserunning metric (EQBRR), which was created by Dan Fox. Stolen bases/caught stealing are already factored in FanGraphs’ version of wOBA, so I’ve just subtracted the steals (EQBRR-EQSBR).

We’ve found out that only a handful of players have had major impacts on the diamond with their baserunning, and these players are the ones who really dragged down their WAR by their plodding and/or boneheaded play on the basepaths.

	       Runs
Melvin Mora     -8
Jorge Posada    -8
Carlos Lee      -6
Yadier Molina   -5
Pedro Feliz     -5
Josh Bard       -5
Billy Butler    -5
Michael Young   -5
Bengie Molina   -5
Jim Thome       -5

To no great surprise, we have a couple of Super Molina Brothers and a few “pleasantly plump” non-catchers such as Billy Butler and Carlos Lee.

Is Melvin Mora’s career over? Yep, probably. He’s going to be 38, he hit the skids offensively and now factoring in his awful baserunning, he was replacement level for 2009. He’s now a free agent, and it’s hard for me to envision him receiving a contract.

We’re filling in the holes in some player’s WAR looking at baserunning, and our own Matt Klaassen has done some hole-filling of his own with his version of quantifying catcher defense. Bookmark it folks: it’s an awesome reference on catchers. Using his run totals on some of these catchers and the baserunning numbers, the picture gets even clearer.

Yadier Molina’s gun-slinging ways have firmly established his defensive reputation. Matt has him at +7 runs — not as high as one might’ve imagined, but still very good. While Yadi’s defensive giveth, unfortunately his lack of ability on the basepaths taketh away, or at least a good bit.

The eldest and most hack-tastic Molina brother isn’t quite the hitter or the defender he once was. The d_f’s catcher metric has him at -3. For the Giants, Molina’s WAR was 1.8 but this drops him to 1 WAR. Bengie’s now a 34-year-old free agent. Given his rep as a steady backstop, I’m sure he’ll find a starting gig somewhere, whether he’s deserves it or not.

Jorge Posada stunk at both defense and baserunning. We have him at 4 WAR, which is obviously great, but when factoring Matt’s defensive numbers (-6) and his horrid baserunning, JP’s WAR goes down to 2.6, which is still good, but not quite as lofty. If you look into the scout’s dictionary and find the word “baseclogger,” you’ll see a picture of Jorge Posada.



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Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.


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