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Ltlabner
12-28-2008, 05:27 PM
Speed helping increase a players value has been discussed especially regarding Mr. Taveras. The argument is that his speed offsets his low OBP.

Below you will find the top 20 NL base stealers (by total stolen bases). So can we all agree that these guys are generally "fast" dudes?

So the question is, can speed add to a players value, especially if they have a hard time getting on base with regularity?

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YEAR NAME PA EqA OBP OUTR R VORP SB SB%
2008 Willy Taveras 538 .238 .308 0.67658 64 1.8 68 90.7%
2008 Michael Bourn 514 .222 .288 0.70623 57 -11.5 41 80.4%
2008 Juan Pierre 406 .246 .327 0.66749 44 1.7 40 76.9%
2008 Cesar Izturis 454 .234 .319 0.6674 50 2.6 24 80.0%

This first group includes some of the top base stealers (by definition fast guys) in NL MLB. Something interesting is happening here, however. Despite all their speed their value compared to a replacement (read: scrub) player is either negligible or below. In other words, they aren't scoring as many runs as a scrub player would.

Yes, scoring runs is dependent on your team-mates. But 3 of the four players come from some fairly good teams. So with names like Pujols, Ankiel, Holliday, Kemp and Rameriz behind you, the run totals should be high.


Runs: The total runs scored by this group are the lowest of the bunch and 64 runs was the high score. 53 runs was the average.

EqA: Offensive production, including base-running, below average (.260) for the entire group.

VORP: Runs scored are at or below replacement level.

OBP: All below average

Out Rates: All above 65%




YEAR NAME PA EqA OBP OUTR R VORP SB SB%
2008 Jose Reyes 763 .294 .358 0.63172 113 62.9 56 78.9%
2008 Jimmy Rollins 625 .282 .349 0.6416 76 44.3 47 94.0%
2008 Shane Victorino 627 .277 .352 0.63317 102 34.2 36 76.6%
2008 Hanley Ramirez 693 .320 .400 0.5873 125 78.6 35 74.5%
2008 Matt Kemp 657 .279 .340 0.64384 93 32.8 35 76.1%
2008 Matt Holliday 623 .316 .409 0.57785 107 61.7 28 93.3%
2008 Carlos Beltran 706 .308 .376 0.61756 116 57.6 25 89.3%
2008 Randy Winn 667 .283 .363 0.62219 84 30.2 25 92.6%
2008 L Milledge 587 .257 .330 0.66269 65 13.2 24 72.7%
2008 Nate Mclouth 685 .300 .356 0.63796 113 49.4 23 88.5%
2008 B Phillips 609 .257 .312 0.66831 80 15.4 23 69.7%
2008 Corey Hart 657 .260 .300 0.67884 76 11.1 23 76.7%
2008 Ryan Theriot 661 .263 .387 0.60666 85 27.1 22 62.9%
2008 Fred Lewis 521 .276 .351 0.6334 81 20.2 21 75.0%
2008 Jayson Werth 482 .297 .363 0.62241 73 31.3 20 95.2%
2008 Kazuo Matsui 422 .277 .354 0.64455 58 21.6 20 80.0%


This second group of the top 20 NL base stealers shows us something very interesting:

Runs: Total runs are generally very high, ranging from 125 to 58. The average is 90.

EqA: All above average except 2 (Milledge and BPhill)

VORP: Runs scored relative to a scrub are all double digits

OBP: All average or above except 3 (Millledge, Bhill and Corey Hart)

Out Rates: All below 65% except 2 (Milledge and BPhill)

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It would appear that speed has done nothing to help the four guys grouped above. It's also worthy of note that they all have sub-par OBP, EqA and above average out rates. So despite having some of the higher stolen base percentages and gaudy stolen base totals these guys clearly had no value last year.

If they could offset their weaknesses by "reeking havoc" on the base paths why doesn't it show up in their numbers? They all scored minimal run totals and are replacement level VORP. And the differences are stark compared to their mates in the second group.

Meanwhile, the guys who have above average OBP, EQA and below average out rates mostly scored more runs (significantly more) and have higher VORP.
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Speed is a great thing, especially since catchers have generally become weaker at throwing out base runners. I'm not knocking speed at all.

But speed has to be used wisely to be effective.

More importantly, the player has to have a chance to use his speed. The more chances the player has to use their speed, the more he can use his speed to help his team.

I think these numbers pretty clearly demonstrate that a player can not make up for his inability to get on base by being fast. A more accurate statement is that a player who gets on base regularly can further increase his value by being fast.

Spitball
12-28-2008, 05:35 PM
I think these numbers pretty clearly demonstrate that a player can not make up for his inability to get on base by being fast. A more accurate statement is that a player who gets on base regularly can further increase his value by being fast.

Great post, Ltlabner. Your last paragraph nicely sums it up.

RedsManRick
12-28-2008, 05:42 PM
In 2008, 181 players had at least 300 base advancement opportunities. This includes advancing not just on stolen bases, but on base hits as well. Just over half of them (99) actually added runs. Only 16 of them added 5 runs or more. 2 of them added 10 runs or more. One of those players was Willy Taveras.

Here are the 16:


# NAME TEAM GA_OPPS EQGAR SB_OPPS EQSBR AA_OPPS EQAAR HA_OPPS EQHAR OA_OPPS EQOAR OPPS EQBRR
1 Ichiro Suzuki SEA 55 2.46 54 6.23 68 1.70 69 1.31 482 0.97 728 12.66
2 Willy Taveras COL 36 -0.09 78 8.96 33 -0.21 35 2.00 304 1.24 486 11.90
3 Ian Kinsler TEX 34 0.04 31 2.64 49 1.90 52 3.80 334 0.80 500 9.19
4 Jimmy Rollins PHI 28 -0.29 53 7.03 52 1.05 27 1.51 334 -0.18 494 9.12
5 Jose Reyes NYN 62 1.25 74 1.79 48 1.42 51 2.41 397 1.44 632 8.30
6 Matt Holliday COL 20 -0.26 30 2.69 47 1.15 46 2.87 366 1.71 509 8.16
7 Jacoby Ellsbury BOS 31 -0.26 61 4.93 51 1.73 42 1.61 311 -0.02 496 7.99
8 Chone Figgins ANA 36 0.68 50 1.30 41 2.15 35 1.94 303 1.59 465 7.66
9 Shane Victorino PHI 30 2.91 48 1.62 45 0.36 40 2.64 349 -0.17 512 7.37
10 Nate McLouth PIT 36 0.05 28 2.24 59 0.85 44 2.16 331 1.89 498 7.19
11 Carlos Beltran NYN 33 0.86 30 1.98 34 0.55 60 2.44 376 0.52 533 6.35
12 Curtis Granders DET 46 -0.19 18 0.73 49 0.98 63 4.13 385 0.31 561 5.96
13 Randy Winn SFN 49 -1.16 26 3.28 54 0.70 62 4.22 404 -1.17 595 5.87
14 Jayson Werth PHI 27 0.43 21 2.68 28 0.29 38 1.10 246 0.66 360 5.15
15 Grady Sizemore CLE 53 -1.70 43 3.92 64 1.47 46 1.54 393 -0.08 599 5.15
16 Rickie Weeks MIL 28 0.54 26 0.56 45 0.20 47 3.83 324 -0.10 470 5.04


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).

Year after year, the best base runners add roughly 10 runs via their exploits on the bases. 90% of regulars will add or subtract less than 5 runs. Base running is helpful on the margins, but it's just that, marginal run production. In the greater context of what you can do as an offensive player, it is peanuts compared to what you can do, positively or negatively, with a bat in your hands.

With Taveras, his speed is literally the only thing which keeps his net run production/prevention north of zero. That's pretty much all you need to know about him as a player.

PuffyPig
12-28-2008, 05:47 PM
A more accurate statement is that a player who gets on base regularly can further increase his value by being fast.

Nice research, but I sure didn't need to see lots of numbers to know this fact. Speed helps any baserunner when he's on base. it doesn't help when he's not on base.

Even a fast runner who doesn't get on base much is better than a slow runner who doesn't get on base much.

westofyou
12-28-2008, 05:48 PM
Speed never slumps.

Branch Rickey

Ltlabner
12-28-2008, 09:26 PM
Nice research, but I sure didn't need to see lots of numbers to know this fact. Speed helps any baserunner when he's on base. it doesn't help when he's not on base.

Oh, I know. I thought it was rather self-evident also.

But the discussion keeps coming up in the Taveras thread so I thought I'd look at the numbers a bit. And, lo and behold, they supported common sense: speed doesn't determine value, the ability to acquire bases and avoid outs does.

Big Klu
12-28-2008, 09:31 PM
Speed never slumps.

Branch Rickey

Obviously a crackpot.

dougdirt
12-28-2008, 09:46 PM
To the original question of does speed help? Sure it does. The problem is, it only helps so much and no amount of speed can offset the inability to reach first base or acquire more bases via the hit.

One thing that really is tough to quantify though is the perceived 'if a burner is on, batters will benefit and that won't show up in the numbers'.

Of course I will also bring to the table that while thats true, a hitter also benefits from any runner on base which can be seen by looking at the entire league having a 25 point OBP advantage and a 12 point SLG advantage when runners are on compared to when no one is on. So while it is a true statement, the question becomes when a guy who is a real threat on the bases is on, how much of a difference does that make compared to just a regular guy on base for a batter?

In the end, its likely VERY minimal.

TOBTTReds
12-28-2008, 10:05 PM
Here's the thing...a .300 obp guy like Taveras already has great speed. So it isn't like his great speed is going to get him on base any better. If he were slow, he would probably be a .250 obp guy, and his speed helps him get to .300.

I think speed only misleads the slugging part. Leads off game with a single, steals two bases, now on third, he still only gets credit for one base in the slugging department.

dougdirt
12-28-2008, 10:09 PM
I think speed only misleads the slugging part. Leads off game with a single, steals two bases, now on third, he still only gets credit for one base in the slugging department.

Of course the CS should also negate his OBP and SLG since he lost those bases. The problem with adding to the SLG is that if there is a runner on base already, he isn't advancing that guy as far as a double if that guy goes first to third and then WT steals 2B.

Steals are good given they are at a good rate, but they can't completely replicate slugging, even in the leadoff spot because even leadoff guys will have PA's with runners on.

Ron Madden
12-28-2008, 10:12 PM
Of course the CS should also negate his OBP and SLG since he lost those bases. The problem with adding to the SLG is that if there is a runner on base already, he isn't advancing that guy as far as a double if that guy goes first to third and then WT steals 2B.

Steals are good given they are at a good rate, but they can't completely replicate slugging, even in the leadoff spot because even leadoff guys will have PA's with runners on.


Well said Doug. :thumbup:

corkedbat
12-28-2008, 10:18 PM
Any player would be better with more speed, but speed alone does not make a decent ball player. Speed is great, but only if the baseball ability is there also.

Always Red
12-28-2008, 10:36 PM
I think these numbers pretty clearly demonstrate that a player can not make up for his inability to get on base by being fast. A more accurate statement is that a player who gets on base regularly can further increase his value by being fast.

Nice post.

Speed completes the ballplayer, and of the "5 tools" speed, or baserunning ability is probably the least important. The only ballplayer I can recall that made it to the big leagues with speed as his only asset was Herb Washington. Washington was Charley Finley's pinch runner experiment, and he stole 31 bases in a year and a half, solely as a pinch runner. He never had a single at bat, nor played in the field.


Any player would be better with more speed, but speed alone does not make a decent ball player. Speed is great, but only if the baseball ability is there also.

I agree, in that speed can help to make a good player great, especially if he plays in the OF. Outfielders that can fly and chase balls down in the gaps are staff-savers.

But having said that, I'd rather have a great "base runner" than a "base-stealer" any day. Pete Rose was an excellent base runner, but not a good base stealer. Ryan Freel was known as a good base stealer by some (at times), but was, of course, a lousy base runner.

CougarQuest
12-28-2008, 11:16 PM
Looks to me like speed helped get at least 4 guys on a MLB roster.

So then I'd have to say, Yes speed helps.

TOBTTReds
12-28-2008, 11:47 PM
Of course the CS should also negate his OBP and SLG since he lost those bases. The problem with adding to the SLG is that if there is a runner on base already, he isn't advancing that guy as far as a double if that guy goes first to third and then WT steals 2B.

Steals are good given they are at a good rate, but they can't completely replicate slugging, even in the leadoff spot because even leadoff guys will have PA's with runners on.

No doubt, that is why there is no stat for it. Just saying why guys like him may get the shaft when speaking of OPS.

SteelSD
12-29-2008, 12:31 AM
Obviously a crackpot.

Unfortunately, that quote is always trumped by "You can't steal First Base."

dougdirt
12-29-2008, 12:56 AM
Speed never slumps.

Branch Rickey

You know, until you tweak an ankle, pull a hammy, twist a knee, age.... all of that fun stuff.

SteelSD
12-29-2008, 01:19 AM
No doubt, that is why there is no stat for it. Just saying why guys like him may get the shaft when speaking of OPS.

Actually, there is a stat for that. The more advanced Runs Created metrics integrate the effect of both Stolen Bases and Caught Stealing. We know what the value is of those events and a single Stolen Base is worth less than a base acquired via natural Slugging Percentage.

For example, let's back out all of Taveras' Caught Stealing from his 2008 numbers and look at it from a perspective of bases aquired via SB versus bases acquired via natural SLG. Here's Taveras with 68 Stolen Bases and no CS:

58.54 RC

Now, here's Taveras with 68 additional "natural" SLG points and no Stolen Base attempts (no SB or CS):

66.27 RC

Now, keep in mind that a guy with Taveras' game would need many additional Hits (around 62) to push his SLG that high because he has no power, which would result in nearly 90 RC. But even holding hit Hits stable, we get a gap of nearly 8 Runs over 530 PA. Over 650 PA, that gap would be nearly 10 Runs. Basically, replacing Taveras with a player producing only a .438 SLG (and no extra BA, OBP, and zero Stolen Bases) would be worth nearly a full Win offensively per season.

wheels
12-29-2008, 09:49 AM
You know, until you tweak an ankle, pull a hammy, twist a knee, age.... all of that fun stuff.

Good one, Daddy!

flyer85
12-29-2008, 09:53 AM
if you're chasing flyballs ... or squirrels.