Don't Forget the Baserunning!

As smart people figure out how to measure more of what happens on the field and other smart people make those stats available to the public, there's less and less we forget about when rating teams and players.  Luck-neutral pitching?  Check.  Park adjustments?  Check.  Defense?  Check.  Baserunning... uh, baserunning... where are you?

Baserunning's kind of like McCauley Culkin circa 1990 -- that would be forgotten, not self-destructive.  Baseball Prospectus has a great baserunning metric publicly available, but it takes some effort to combine it with most WAR implementations (hint hint, Mr. Appelman.)  The All-Star break seems like a great time to see which teams and individual baserunners are adding (or subtracting) value on the bases.

Since most measures of run scoring already include stolen bases and caught stealings, I like to remove them from BPro's baserunning metric and only look at live-ball baserunning.  Therefore, the numbers presented below are EQBRR - EQSBR (total baserunning runs minus stolen base runs.)  Good baserunning requires taking extra bases while not getting caught doing it.  Both being overly cautious and being overly aggressive are bad strategies.  First, the teams, then the players:

Team Baserunning

Team Runs
COL 14
FLO 10
SLN 6
LAN 5
SFN 5
OAK 5
TOR 4
TBA 4
CLE 3
MIN 3
NYN 1
CHA 1
ARI 0
DET 0
ANA 0
PIT -1
MIL -1
HOU -2
BOS -2
SDN -3
NYA -3
SEA -3
CIN -3
WAS -3
CHN -4
PHI -5
KCA -7
ATL -8
TEX -8
BAL -9

Well lookie here, another talking point in the Rockies-for-the-playoffs campaign.  Definitely don't sleep on this team.  Nor the Marlins, I suppose, as they're the only other team to add at least a win on the basepaths.  As has been pointed out nineteen weeks in a row in our power rankings (or so it seems) the Giants have scored more runs than their batting events would predict.  Part of that can be explained by adding five runs above average in the baserunning department. 

At the bottom of the list are a few teams in playoff contention -- the Rangers, Braves, and Phillies.  If any of them can run the bases like a league-average team the rest of the way, they'd help their playoff chances by almost a full win.

Individual Baserunning

Here are the leaders in non-SB runs created on the basepaths...

Player Runs
Michael Bourn 6
Chone Figgins 5
Clint Barmes 4
Cristian Guzman 4
Emilio Bonifacio 3
Brandon Phillips 3
Ryan Zimmerman 3
Dexter Fowler 3
Fred Lewis 3
Shane Victorino 3
Ichiro Suzuki 3
Scott Rolen 3
Gerardo Parra 3

The thing that hits me is how insignificant baserunning is for most players.  Only thirteen people in the majors have added even three runs in the category.  Michael Bourne's backing up a breakout season with the bat with even more value and Chone Figgins is living up to his legendary baserunning reputation.  Not a lot of surprises on the list, except for Scott Rolen.  Maybe he's the next Larry Walker?

And here are the baserunning trailers... 

Player Runs
Melvin Mora -5
Carlos Lee -5
Michael Young -4
Jorge Posada -4
Yadier Molina -4
Jim Thome -3
Casey Kotchman -3
Bobby Abreu -3
Mark Teahen -3
Bengie Molina -3
Pedro Feliz -3
Kendry Morales -3
Josh Bard -3

Again, not a lot of players seriously hurting their teams on the base path.  I see no athletic-related reason Melvin Mora should top the list.  Two Molina's on the list?  Not a surprise.  Carlos Lee not as good as we think he is?  Not a surprise.  Two Angels on the list, in Bobby Abreu and Kendry Morales?  Now that is a surprise.

Here's a spreadsheet for download with the baserunning data through the All-Star break in a nice format.  Remember, it's from BPro, originally.  Use the filter on the team column of the Players worksheet to look at all the players for your favorite team.

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