Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 26, 2006
BASEBALL: Keeping the Baserunners

There are four components to offense in baseball. Getting on base and batting for extra bases are the two biggies. Next is advancing once on base; the fourth is avoiding losing runners on the basepaths. The fourth is probably the one that flies furthest below the radar; it may be thought of as something that doesn't show in the box scores, but at least two components do: GIDP and Caught Stealing. Which teams are doing the best and worst jobs this season of avoiding losing runners that way? Well, it's time for . . . a chart! The first column, GD%, shows GIDP plus CS as a percentage of runners on first base (i.e., hits plus walks plus HBP plus catchers' interference - included because, hey, ESPN lists it - minus extra base hits). The second, SB/SH, divides a team's number of successful steals and sacrifice hits - both of which advance a runner, albeit with different costs - as a percentage of the same. This column shows a team's successful efforts to avoid losing a runner and instead get them to scoring position. The third shows strikeouts as a percentage of plate appearances - teams that whiff a lot at least aren't hitting into double plays, even if they're not making "productive outs" either. (If you're wondering, I didn't bother listing GB/FB ratios - the Cubs hit a ton of grounders but nobody else is much of an outlier).

NY Mets0.0760.1850.163
Chicago Sox0.0860.0890.162
LA Dodgers0.0990.1100.143
San Diego0.1000.1090.179
NY Yankees0.1020.0850.153
LA Angels0.1100.1130.154
St. Louis0.1110.0950.132
Kansas City0.1240.0700.167
Tampa Bay0.1280.1180.171

Unsurprisingly, with Reyes and Beltran at the top of the order, the Mets have excelled in this category - if you divide the second column by the first one you get a ratio of successful one-run strategies to lost baserunners of 2.43 to 1, whereas only two other teams are better than 1.15 to 1 (the Reds at 1.41 and the Orioles at 1.18) and some teams are below 0.5 to 1 (the A's, perhaps reflecting their philosophy, rank last at 0.35, with the Red Sox at 0.39 and the Blue Jays at 0.43 - the best-known "Moneyball" adherents - and the Rangers at 0.46)

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:24 AM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

Interesting comment by Beltran oh Reyes' hot streak. He wished he could do something like that. Guess he forgot the LCS 2 years ago. Or a few weeks ago. The Mets essentially have 3 go to guys, two home grown, all of them young. And Milledge ain't goin' nowhere.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at June 26, 2006 10:09 AM

the Mets are over 2 standard deviations under the avg in "GD%" (lost runners), and 3 std devs above the avg in "SB/SH". A bit of a garbage stat, and probably not normally distributed, but still, they DO move runners along. Too bad they are still first in the NL in OPS but 2nd in runs scored to L.A., who as a team have some GREAT clutch stats so far!

Posted by: Tom H at June 26, 2006 1:34 PM

Enjoy your blog greatly. Just curious do you ever have any thoughts on college Baseball or the College World series. I am perhaps, I know one of the few that have an interest but I was not sure if you had watchedit

Posted by: jh at June 26, 2006 2:18 PM

Interesting. The Tigers don't seem to think much of your theory...making their season all the more impressive/curious/astounding.

They apparently really ARE winning with pitching and defense just like the announcers endlessly remind me.

Posted by: Mr Furious at June 26, 2006 2:38 PM

And power. The Tigers depend heavily on power.

Hey, I didn't say this was the most important part of an offense, just one factor. It's part of why the Mets and White Sox and Reds are winning. The Tigers are relying on other tools.

Posted by: The Crank at June 26, 2006 2:51 PM

Great stuff, Crank. I figured the Mets' excellent baserunning was helping them out somewhere. This gives a clue.

Their 84% success rate in steals (as they lead the league in SBs) helps a lot. Plus, leading in slugging by a sizeable margin can't hurt either.

My post on the Mets today addresses this stuff and more.

Posted by: Mike at June 26, 2006 3:40 PM

And power. The Tigers depend heavily on power.

True enough. At first glance they don't have any league-leading homer types, but they do have several guys in double-digits.

I gotta add, I've been out here in MI five years, and the baseball has been dismal. It's really fun this year with the Tigers playing the way they are. It's like the Morgan Magic Sox the way they are pulling out games on a regular basis...

Posted by: Mr Furious at June 26, 2006 5:10 PM

Seems to me that fielder's choice is an indicator of what you're looking at here - someone getting on base at the expense of a player already there.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor at June 29, 2006 8:05 PM

Fascinating stuff, Crank. I admit, I'm surprised to see the Padres so high in the rankings. It seems like they're constantly grounding into double plays, but a check of the stats indicates otherwise. It would be interesting to see some historical numbers on this stuff -- not that I'm volunteering either of us for that job. ;-)

Posted by: Geoff Young at June 30, 2006 1:02 AM
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