Top baserunners of 2009

This is a look at baserunning runs, excluding stolen base attempts. Here’s the basic method:

  • For all plays, we consider the lead runner only.
  • We figure out the average change in run expectancy for the lead runner for each non-discretionary running event – typically a ball in play (either a hit, error or out). Those plays are grouped by:
    • The number of outs in the inning.
    • The type of event – single, double, etc. (A fielder’s choice is considered an ordinary out.)
    • For batting outs, whether the ball was hit in the air or on the ground.
    • The position of the player who fields the ball.
  • Then we figure the change in run expectancy for the lead runner on each individual baserunning play. For a non-discretionary event, we subtract the average value of that running play. For a discretionary running play, such as a wild pitch or passed ball, we do not – a runner is not penalized for the decision not to run.

That gives us our baserunning runs. Your leaders (and trailers) for 2009:

RUN_ID Name Runs Chances
bourm001 Michael Bourn 10.8 230
fowld001 Dexter Fowler 10.0 142
velee001 Eugenio Velez 7.6 90
figgc001 Chone Figgins 7.4 230
podss001 Scott Podsednik 7.0 169
philb001 Brandon Phillips 6.8 118
bonie001 Emilio Bonifacio 6.4 131
wrigd002 David Wright 6.3 172
sweer001 Ryan Sweeney 6.0 142
furcr001 Rafael Furcal 6.0 210
RUN_ID Name Runs Chances
morak001 Kendry Morales -4.1 123
moram002 Melvin Mora -4.1 89
posaj001 Jorge Posada -4.4 99
howar001 Ryan Howard -5.0 120
thomj002 Jim Thome -5.1 81
felip001 Pedro Feliz -5.1 153
wietm001 Matt Wieters -5.5 84
molib001 Bengie Molina -5.5 95
heltt001 Todd Helton -6.3 162
bardj001 Josh Bard -7.2 55

Your typical caveats apply – don’t read too much into a one year sample. Remember that players at the extremes during any sample tend to regress to the mean as the sample increases, etc.

The full list is available here.

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Red Sox Talk
Red Sox Talk

As always, thanks for the hard work, and sharing your results Colin. A couple of interesting observations:

How in the world did Eugenio Velez manage to provide +7.6 runs in only 90 chances? He must be one heck of a baserunner!

Also, at +2.6 runs, Jacoby Ellsbury must be one of the most disappointing stolen base leaders out there! I have noted that he doesn’t seem to be as smart out there on the basepaths as he is fast, but I thought at least he’d beat out guys like Dustin Pedroia (+4.0 runs)!

Colin Wyers
Colin Wyers

Ellsbury gets a big boost if you include stolen bases – he leads the league in net stolen base runs (this isn’t based on play by play data, just standard linear weights) at 6.1 runs, followed by Bourn at 4.7. (Pedroia’s net SB runs are actually negative, at -0.15.)

[Since stolen bases are already counted in metrics like wOBA and EqR, I’ve presented a SB-free metric that you can combine with those metrics without worrying about double-counting.]