Thursday, August 16, 2007

Stolen Bases and Wasted Outs

One of my pet peeves all year has been how many runners the Spirit lose on the basepaths. It seems to me to be an inordinate amount - far more than I ever remember seeing from any team I've followed.

Interestingly enough, looking at the stolen base figures, we aren't doing THAT badly. Bearing in mind that Baseball Prospectus says stolen bases only give you a statistical advantage if you are successful at least 73% of the time, here's how the teams stack up:

Team: SB/CS/ Pct

New Haven 85/29 77.9%
New Jersey 96/30 76.2%
Grays 90/31 74.3%
Brockton 87/31 73.7%
Atlantic City: 92/33 73.2%
Sussex 48/66 72.7%
Quebec 66/26 71.3%
North Shore: 70/29 70.7%
Worcester: 65/33 64.9%
Nashua: 60/51 59.4%

Focus on the Spirit:
Josue Lopez 1 SB 1 CS
Mike Torres 6 SB 4 CS


A few observations from those stats:

-The Spirit aren't hurting themselves as badly as I thought they were re: steals. 70.3% is statistically not helping you, but it's not hurting you that much, either. 70 successful SB is pretty good considering the fact that this isn't a team laden with speed top-to-bottom. But the fact that Josue Lopez has 2 attempted steals and Mike Torres has 10 is just silly. Those guys shouldn't be stealing. I hope that most of those CS's come from pick-offs. [Not that getting picked off is something to be happy about.]

-As I suspected, CanAm managers are way too over-reliant on trying to steal bases, to the point where it's statistically hurting half of the teams in the league. I'd suspect that sacrifice bunt stats would also show a similar over-reliance - and statistically speaking, bunting helps you even less often than stealing.

-Also, as I suspected, Butch Hobson's managing is terrible. A 59.4% stealing percentage is so bad that it makes serious dents in run totals. There's nothing wrong with trying to steal a lot if you're doing it well (see: Jersey) but continuing to run wildly when you get gunned down so often - for the sole purpose of being 'aggressive' [Nick Lopardo word of the day] - is downright foolish.


So, in looking at the actual numbers, our stolen base ratio isn't killing us, but it's not helping out much either, and we are certainly well within the bottom half of the league in terms of success stealing bases.

I suspect, however, that if I could find statistics about runners being gunned down at the plate, or trying for extra bases, we would probably on the top of that dubious list. If anyone knows where I could find such stats, let me know.


Anonymous said...

I would also like to see those stats; they run themselves into outs SO often with poor decision making. French looked like he was suprised that Donahue was chastising him for his running thru the stop sign---- un believable.

Heard from the rumor mill (Eric via D.C., that trhe team has been sold. Anyone else hear anything?, or is this most likely bogus?.


Joe Grav said...

if you're hearing it from someone who is not willy, it might be true

DaveCo said...

Reading this article made me think exactly what Spraky is saying.....The Spirit have run into so many outs it really hurts. They MUST have gotten more than 29 outs due to bad baserunnning then just in beign caught stealing.

It's not the sb/cs thign that's killing us,it's really just all-around bad baserunning.

wooden said...

Gentlemen, et al:

You could try to dig into this by going through the Howe Sports Data Boxscores and counting catcher and outfielder assists but it would be an arduous and imperfect exercise.

For example, were all catcher's assists on steal attempts? Of course not.

What about pickoffs? Most people think that a pickoff is a caught stealing, and while I think the quality of scorekeeping judgment in the minors is substandard, I think most do know the rule of thumb regarding baserunner movement: Towards the next bag = Caught Stealing, Back to the bag = Picked Off.

Outfielder assists is also imperfect because it assumes that it was a baserunning blunder. Let's face it, there are instances when the right move is to run on a guy with a rag arm.

Unfortunately, most of the analyses I've ever seen regarding team baserunning require much more detailed stats than we have access to.

Anonymous said...

Wooden is right about the scoring, and that our stats don't reflect pickoffs and outs trying to stretch a base hit. These stats can be kept, but you'd have to decide from the beginning that you wanted to evaluate baserunning (and catching) rather than fill the usual categories. The NECBL college summer league does a better job with baserunning stats.

Anonymous said...

I like BJ Weed but he has been picked off trying to steal bases way too much lately.