A quick post today on Giants baserunning from 2007-2008 using Baseball Prospectus’s Baserunning Report tool. We’ll be using EqBRR or Equivalent Base Running runs. It’s the sum of five different baserunning skills translated into runs.
Here’s BP’s definition:
Equivalent Base Running Runs. Measures the number of runs contributed by a player’s advancement on the bases, above what would be expected based on the number and quality of the baserunning opportunities with which the player is presented, park-adjusted and based on a multi-year run expectancy table. EqBRR is calculated as the sum of various baserunning components: Equivalent Ground Advancement Runs (EqGAR), Equivalent Stolen Base Runs (EqSBR), Equivalent Air Advancement Runs (EqAAR), Equivalent Hit Advancement Runs (EqHAR) and Equivalent Other Advancement Runs (EqOAR).
So, it looks at advancement on ground balls, flyballs, hits, stolen bases, and an other category. Pretty cool stuff. The data only goes back two years, so that’s as far as we’ll be going back today. I’ve limited my sample to those with 30 or more baserunning opportunities. This helps to keep out pitchers who rarely get on but occasionally do. Let’s check out the leaders and trailers.
You can find a complete color-coded list for baserunning, here.
- Our top baserunners are all adding nearly half a win to their values. Randy Winn, Fred Lewis, and Dave Roberts have all chipped in +5 runs or more combined over the last two years.
- Randy Winn had a really good baserunning year in 2008. He mainly saw a boost in his ability to advance on hits and stolen bases. Winn has never been a high percentage base-stealer — a career SB% of 70 — but in ’08 he stole 25 bases against 2 caught stealings, good for a SB% of 92.
- Fred Lewis places 2nd on our list from 2007-2008 but he added most of his value in ’08. He only got 157 at-bats in ’07 but in an expanded role last season, Fred did a lot of things well — including his baserunning. His total of +5.27 runs is worth a half-win. When you consider skills like baserunning and arm, Fred could be adding up to a whole win to his overall value. It’s a good reason why Lewis might be a little undervalued. He’s not going to stock pile offensive numbers like Carlos Lee, but he’s going to be adding value in other ways.
- Former Giants’ speedster, Rajai Davis, made our list for best baserunners. Davis added a little over +4 runs during his brief Giants career and then went on to add another +2 runs in Oakland last season. If I had to pick between Davis and Dave Roberts, I’d take Davis.
- Speaking of Dave Roberts, he’s 3rd on our list for baserunning. But, he was a below average baserunner in 2008. Last season, Roberts was worth about -2.3 runs on the basepaths. The majority of his +5 run score is coming from 2007 when he was worth +7.4 runs. Health will be key for Roberts. And even though he’s had a reputation for being fragile in his career and he’ll be 37-years-old this season, I’m not expecting him to have much trouble staying healthy. He’ll be a 5th OF on the team if he’s not cut.
- Manny Burriss and Nate Schierholtz show that they can add a little something with their legs. I think Nate’s modest score of +1.5 runs makes sense. He’s not a burner on the basepaths but he’s got moderate speed and it looks like he knows what he’s doing when he’s running.
- Now, to the trailers. I don’t think anyone should be surprised to see Bengine Molina as the worst baserunner on the Giants over these last two years. His score of -10 runs means that his baserunning as cost him nearly 1 full win of value. Because of his speed — maybe the slowest guy in the majors — he just can’t advance on base-hits. If Molina is on second base, you know it’s probably going to take an extra-base hit to score him. If he’s on first base, it’s going to take a home run.
- Pedro Feliz was worth -5 runs by baserunning for his 2007 season, his last with the Giants. Feliz isn’t a speedy runner, but I expected him to be closer to average than below.
- Hey, another reason to dislike Jose Castillo. He can’t hit, field, or run the bases. He’s the definition of a replacement-level player.
- The rest of the trailers list is full of slow moving plodder-types. It hurts a little see Aaron Rowand on the trailers list. You’ve got some first basemen — Bowker and Aurilia — and a bunch of catchers — Molina, G-Rod, and Eliezer. Barry Bonds makes the list, but he’s still pretty respectable for a guy with one good knee. I always felt the claims of him being ‘immobile’ were greatly exaggerated. The only player who looks a little out of place on the trailers list is Ivan Ochoa, but he’s pretty close to average.
When trying to figure out how much value players are creating, baserunning is often overlooked. But, as we can see above, some players are seeing significant gains to their value just by running the basses well — or poorly. Randy Winn and Fred Lewis added nearly a half-win to their totals for their excellent baserunning last season. On the other side of the coin, Bengie Molina is losing value because he just can’t run. Interesting stuff to consider the next time you’re thinking about your favorite player and how good he is.