You Know, And That


Baserunning, Parts 2-12

I still have a few little pieces of information rattling around my brain about baserunning. So here’s a blog with no plot through-line, just some randomly associated scattershot, bullet-pointed:

  • Neither the word “baserunner” nor “baserunning” are in the dictionaries I looked at. “Base runner” or “base runnng” - hyphenated if you want - seem to be the “correct” spelling. However, the one word truncation used above and throughout my previous blog on the subject also seem to be commonly used. I mean, if it’s on Wikipedia…
  • I don’t want to overemphasize the effect that baserunning has on the game. I feel I may have done that by dedicating 1700 words to it on Tuesday. The Brewers finished last season with a -6.4 UBR. That means their non-stolen base related base running cost them 6.4 RAR (runs above replacement) by the UBR metric. 6.4 runs is .64 wins, again using the 10 run rule. That’s barely anything over the course of a whole season. It didn’t help, certainly, but it didn’t hurt that much either.
  • The very best UBR team last season, the Rays, finished with 23.2 RAR. About 2.3 wins of helpfulness. The very worst UBR team last season, the Mariners (they sucked at something? no way!), came in a -13.4 RAR, -1.3 wins. A 3.66 win spread between best and worst is significant, especially if they were in the same division, but many other things are much more significant.
  • The 2009 spread between worst (Royals) and best (Twins - remember when they did the little things? oh, they’re so precious) was 3.62 wins. Divisional opponents, so it is slightly more interesting. Would have been even more interesting if the Twins hadn’t beaten the Royals by 27 games in the standings.
  • Back one last year… 2008, the worst (White Sox) and the best (Twins) (OMG!) saw UBR separate them by 3.34 wins. Since the Twins, who won the division that year, only beat the Sox by 7 games, baserunning became a bit more important in that case, but still not a tide-turner.
  • I went back to 2002 (as far as the data goes) and in short, it looks reasonable to assume that the best and worst baserunning teams will usually be separated by 2.5-4.5 wins due to UBR.
  • The Brewers have had the worst team UBR in the league twice, in 2002 and 2003.
  • The Brewers had above average (and above 0) team UBRs from 2005-2008. They were the 4th best baserunning team in baseball during that time span. I’m at a cursory loss to explain why, or what’s changed, besides Ned Yost. Davey Nelson was the baserunning coach from ‘03 to ‘06. Nick Leyva and Ed Sedar were co-baserunning coaches in ‘07 and Sedar became sole baseunning coach in ‘08, which he still is today.
  • Prince Fielder, who has the 3rd-worst UBR in baseball since the beginning of 2005, has been worth -24.9 RAR during that time. A little less than -3 wins. Over roughly 5.5 seasons of playing time for Prince, that’s under negative half a win per season. It drains on his value for sure, but not as much as you may think.
  • Ryan Braun, the Brewers’ best baserunner since 2007 by UBR, has produced 12.2 RAR during his time in the big leagues. That’s about 3 runs a season, a little over a win during his career. Yawn. At least he’s not bad.
  • The best UBR in a single season was Juan Pierre’s 9.4 RAR in 2003. The worst was Kendrys Morales’ -11.4 RAR in 2009. He and Tony Pena (‘07, -10.8 RAR) are the only two guys since 2002 to have lost their team a whole win with the value of their individual running game.

I’ll come back and look at how the Brewers are doing with their baserunning around the All Star break, not that I’m expecting a whole lot of movement.

All the UBR stats were pulled from various stats pages at FanGraphs. If you haven’t looked at FanGraphs yet, you’re nuts.