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TRF
09-23-2010, 09:43 AM
Not arguing the merit of the SB. The fact is, they are part of the game, and the importance of the SB seems to be on the rise with managers in the post PED era.

On the Reds there seems to be three SB threats. Stubbs of course, Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto.

Yep. Joey Votto.

Votto it may surprise some, it sure did me, has a SB% right at 75% this year. Phillips is a HORRIBLE 57%. Like the Chewbacca defense, this does not make sense! Clearly BP is faster than Votto. But he doesn't know when NOT to run. This is another aspect of Votto's overall game that makes him so... valuable. :)

BP wants to make things happen too much it seems. He doesn't have Taveras like speed, but he's pretty fast. So why the poor percentage this year? Past 2006 he's never been a great base stealer, about 72%, but this year is a huge dropoff. Man needs to talk to Larkin and Davis about the art of the stolen base.

Homer Bailey
09-23-2010, 09:49 AM
I'm actually going to go a bit out on a limb here, but I have felt this way for a few years now.

I don't think Brandon Phillips is fast. Like, not even a little bit fast. I think his acceleration is actually well below average. When was the last time you saw Brandon leg out an infield hit in the hole? He never steals bases easily, often gets thrown out on the bases because he thinks he's faster than he is (and other reasons), and it shows in his horrible SB%.

Although I still think he is obviously a great defender, I don't think his range is THAT elite, as he just simply doesn't have much speed (at least from what I see on TV). I'm guessing people are more likely to disagree with that part of the statement than the first part, but I still contend that Phillips' speed is VASTLY overrated.

That being said, I'm still a Phillips fan. He's just an awful baserunner.

oneupper
09-23-2010, 10:04 AM
BP has lost a step or two (or three) over the past 4 years. When he came to the REDS he was almost a lock to steal when he attempted.

RedEye
09-23-2010, 10:06 AM
I think we need to differentiate between different types of speed here. Phillips may be fast over a certain distance, but he may not have (or may have lost) the burst he needs in order steal a base. I also think it is important to recognize that stealing bases is not all about pure speed. Sometimes timing a jump is just as important, and I think that's what Votto is doing right now that Phillips doesn't seem to be.

I'd also like to point out that Jay Bruce has sneaky speed--although it hasn't shown up in many stolen bases this year.

westofyou
09-23-2010, 10:11 AM
Votto on top, Phillips on the bottom


1st to 3rd 2nd to Home 1st to Home DP Bases BR BR SB Net
Year Adv Opp Adv Opp Adv Opp Opp GIDP Taken Outs Gain Gain Gain
2010 13 41 18 23 6 12 136 10 18 9 -2 +5 +3
2010 11 32 17 24 7 9 94 14 27 6 +9 -7 +2

Roy Tucker
09-23-2010, 10:15 AM
I'm actually going to go a bit out on a limb here, but I have felt this way for a few years now.

I don't think Brandon Phillips is fast. Like, not even a little bit fast. I think his acceleration is actually well below average. When was the last time you saw Brandon leg out an infield hit in the hole? He never steals bases easily, often gets thrown out on the bases because he thinks he's faster than he is (and other reasons), and it shows in his horrible SB%.

Although I still think he is obviously a great defender, I don't think his range is THAT elite, as he just simply doesn't have much speed (at least from what I see on TV). I'm guessing people are more likely to disagree with that part of the statement than the first part, but I still contend that Phillips' speed is VASTLY overrated.

That being said, I'm still a Phillips fan. He's just an awful baserunner.

I'm starting to think this too.

Like last night when he got thrown out at 2nd on a ball off the wall in the 1st. He didn't really dog it coming out of the batters box. He ran at a 90% top speed which really should have made it a double. But his 90% top speed just isn't that fast this year. Kinda like the way Sean Casey was. He sure ran hard with great effort, but running hard doesn't equal rnning fast.

I think his hamstring has slowed him down all year. He just needs to recognize he isn't the baserunner he's been in previous years and adjust to it.

RedsManRick
09-23-2010, 10:52 AM
Baserunning is a funny thing. Per BP, 381 players have had at least 100 base advancement opportunities this year. Of those, 28.5% produced at least 1 run, 34% were between 1 and -1 runs, while 37.5% cost their team at least 1 run.

And when you break that down, stolen bases are only a faction of those runs. On net, they just don't add up to much. A grand total of 36 players have produced at least 1.0 run, net, from stolen bases and just 11 have produced 2.0 or more. The league leader in runs produced from stolen bases, Michael Borne, has produced 5.1 runs from them. He's produced 8.1 runs in other ways on the bases.

We look at a guy who's stolen say 32/40 (80%) and say he's a had a really good year. But when you net that out, those outs hurt a lot more than we think they do at the time. I think this is what trips us up. Say a guy has a game where he steals two bags, scores from first on a double and gets picked off. That day on the bases was more or less a wash. Outs on the bases hurt. One of the few things more valuable than an out (a plate appearance) is a base-runner. To go from having a base-runner to having an out just kills an offense.

For this Reds team, I think this table is informative. Again, this is baseball prospectus's methodology, so take it for what it is. But my big takeaway is this:

As a team, the Reds have cost themselves 6 runs trying to steal bases. In total, their base-running exploits have cost them 2 runs. It's a fun story to talk about how this team wins because it does the little things like taking the extra base. And I know that this team does attempt to take the extra base often. I like the mentality from a psychological perspective. But in reality, over the course of the season, it just doesn't matter all that much.


Players SBOPP EQSBR EQBRR
Drew Stubbs 36 1.8 3.8
Brandon Phillip 26 -1.8 3.6
Chris Dickerson 3 0.5 1.5
Miguel Cairo 4 0.7 0.8
Micah Owings 0 0.0 0.2
Jim Edmonds 0 0.0 0.2
Jonny Gomes 6 -0.5 0.0
Juan Francisco 0 0.0 0.0
Aaron Harang 0 0.0 0.0
Mike Lincoln 0 0.0 0.0
Travis Wood 0 0.0 0.0
Matt Maloney 0 0.0 0.0
Willie Bloomqui 0 0.0 0.0
Mike Leake 0 0.0 -0.1
Bronson Arroyo 0 0.0 -0.1
Homer Bailey 0 0.0 -0.1
Edinson Volquez 0 0.0 -0.1
Sam LeCure 0 0.0 -0.1
Drew Sutton 0 0.0 -0.1
Corky Miller 0 0.0 -0.2
Yonder Alonso 0 0.0 -0.3
Chris Heisey 2 -1.5 -0.4
Chris Valaika 0 0.0 -0.4
Joey Votto 23 -1.2 -0.5
Orlando Cabrera 16 -0.8 -0.6
Johnny Cueto 0 0.0 -0.6
Ramon Hernandez 0 0.0 -1.2
Laynce Nix 2 -0.7 -1.2
Paul Janish 4 -1.5 -1.2
Scott Rolen 3 -0.3 -1.5
Ryan Hanigan 0 0.0 -1.7
Jay Bruce 10 -0.9 -1.8
135 -6.1 -2.1


And lastly, if I can go on a tangent for a minute, we should be careful when we latch on to narratives without verifying them at all. I'm sure Scott Rolen is a very smart base-runner, but unless somebody points out the failures in BPs methodology, it doesn't look like he's had a great year on the bases. Meanwhile, while Phillips has had his share of flubs on the base-paths, it seems he's more than made up for it elsewhere. Confirmation bias is a powerful beast. Once we have an idea in our heads about a guy, particularly one which we think is deep-seated, like character, we view everything the player does through that prism. It's impossible to get outside of that completely, but that's why I find the sabermetric approach so interesting, it's objective. Its methodologies are public and can be tested and improved. Its biases are apparent and open for discussion. And its inputs are clear. I don't know if this stat from BP is the best one out there. But I have more faith in it as a measure of past performance (not ability) than I do of my own recollections or those of announcers looking for a narrative.

Griffey012
09-23-2010, 12:59 PM
I haven't examined BP's methodology, but it doesn't seem to be like a good method. Considering we are one of the most aggressive teams on the bases, and possibly the most aggressive not including steals, and are leading the league in runs, something doesn't add up. It's not like we have a powerhouse lineup up and down, just a solid 1-8, with a stud in Votto.

I am guessing the method of placing negative value on baserunnings outs doesn't consider where the out happened, and when it happened. Getting thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double with 2 outs is not nearly as bad as trying to stretch a double into a triple with 0 outs and getting thrown out.

TRF
09-23-2010, 01:02 PM
wow RMR, exactly what i wasn't hoping for, a discussion on the value of the SB. :)

I just noticed that for some reason, THIS year, BP's SB% is way down. I'm guessing it is injury related, but I can't imagine Votto beating him in a footrace today. That leaves us with when not to run.

bucksfan2
09-23-2010, 01:16 PM
I haven't examined BP's methodology, but it doesn't seem to be like a good method. Considering we are one of the most aggressive teams on the bases, and possibly the most aggressive not including steals, and are leading the league in runs, something doesn't add up. It's not like we have a powerhouse lineup up and down, just a solid 1-8, with a stud in Votto.

I am guessing the method of placing negative value on baserunnings outs doesn't consider where the out happened, and when it happened. Getting thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double with 2 outs is not nearly as bad as trying to stretch a double into a triple with 0 outs and getting thrown out.

The issue I have with the BP method is it takes each individual SB or extra base attempt in a vacuum. It also assumes that regardless of the outcome of the event, the defensive team will play and position themselves the same way. You can't tell me that getting to 3rd base (via SB, 1st to 3rd, or tag up) that the defense, and even pitcher for that matter, will pitch/position the same way as if the runner was held at 2nd. The value of getting to 3b, especially with less that 2 outs, is very high.

I am a big proponent of aggressive base running. When you are aggressive you put extra stress on the defensive team. There are going to be times when you run into outs, but I think the overall value is much higher.

As for Scott Rolen there are times in which he has been gunned out trying to work for an extra base. When you hear opposing players, managers, and scouts rave about Scott Rolen's base running I am more inclined to put more faith in them than a BP method that seems flawed to me.

Griffey012
09-23-2010, 01:32 PM
Another huge flaw to the BP method is that BP is almost the best base runner on our team...when anyone who watches games realizes BP is an absolute awful base runner.

I would actually be inclined to believe it a little more if those numbers were reversed...with Stubbs and Phillips being the worst because they both seem to make the most boneheaded base runnings plays of anyone on the team.

Roy Tucker
09-23-2010, 01:33 PM
Hum-hum-hummmm.... certainly is food for thought...

Some links:

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=EQBRR
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/statistics/sortable/index.php?cid=69261
http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2010/6/14/1515714/base-running-which-teams-help-or
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1158164/index.htm

RedsManRick
09-23-2010, 01:50 PM
Another huge flaw to the BP method is that BP is almost the best base runner on our team...when anyone who watches games realizes BP is an absolute awful base runner.

I would actually be inclined to believe it a little more if those numbers were reversed...with Stubbs and Phillips being the worst because they both seem to make the most boneheaded base runnings plays of anyone on the team.

Part of the reason they make the most boneheaded plays is because they make the most plays, period. But our brains are wired to remember those plays which elicit a strong emotional reaction, so we tend to remember the negative plays disproportionately -- as a counting stat which simply accrues negatives rather than as a rate stat in which the negatives and positives balance each other out. Also, and this is what i was getting at above, we are more likely to remember things that confirm our pre-existing beliefs. So if we think BP is a bad base-runner, you will sub-consciously be on the lookout for things that reinforce that belief.

Don't get me wrong, I was surprised as anybody that Phillips rated well. But he was by far the best on the team at taking an extra base on hits and fly ball outs. These likely don't stand out that much since they aren't terribly exciting.

But I would caution you against dismissing a stat simply because it suggests a conclusion which differs from the one you currently hold. Whether or not you "believe" a stat should be based on its underlying logic and methodology, not on whether it's conclusion feels right. The great thing about stats is that, if they are flawed, we can point to the thing we have a problem with. Our own internal math is completely opaque and subject to biases that even the best of us have trouble accounting for.

That's not to say that perception is wrong or that stats are always right -- in this case or any. Often our eyes help us to identify something the stat misses or handles poorly. But the idea of the earth going around the sun felt plainly and obviously wrong to most people too.

Rojo
09-23-2010, 01:50 PM
I like the mentality from a psychological perspective. But in reality, over the course of the season, it just doesn't matter all that much.

The math is clear but baseball's a fluid game. With fewer homeruns, the ratios have to be changed.

RedsManRick
09-23-2010, 01:58 PM
The math is clear but baseball's a fluid game. With fewer homeruns, the ratios have to be changed.

Fair point. BP uses the run value changes of the base/out states. As you say, in a lower home run environment, fewer runners are likely to score from 1B. Park effects matter here too. A stolen base is a more valuable in PETCO than Coors.

Here is BP's explanation:

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).

I'm not sure what years are covered in the expectancy table they're using, but I'm pretty sure that more recent one which reflects the current run environment would not have a massive effect on the figures here. Some effect, but not one that would fundamentally alter the general order of performance.

Roy Tucker
09-23-2010, 02:06 PM
Fron the SI article:



Four years ago, in a series of essays for the Baseball Prospectus and The Hardball Times websites, Fox introduced a metric called Equivalent Baserunning Runs (EqBRR), which today is, by far, the most advanced baserunning statistic available. EqBRR combines the contributions of all forms of baserunning: stolen bases; advancement on ground outs, fly balls and hits; as well as advancement on passed balls, wild pitches and balks. Fox examined play-by-play data going back to 1956, the earliest year such information was available, and as expected, those who made the greatest impact on the bases were speedsters such as Henderson and Raines, who, according to their EqBRRs, contributed an average of more than 10 runs a season at the peak of their careers with their baserunning alone. Hall of Famer Robin Yount was one of the best at taking the extra base on hits, adding nearly eight runs in his best seasons with his baserunning even though he never stole more than 22 bases in a season. The best base runner of all time, however, was Wilson, who in his best season (1980) added more than 19 runs with his legs, according to Fox's formula. "I've never been a stats guy," Wilson says, "but I like this stat."

Fox's main purpose, though, was to understand how "running fits into the big picture," he says. What contribution, if any, does baserunning make to a team's win-loss total over the course of a season?

TheNext44
09-23-2010, 04:51 PM
The issue I have with the BP method is it takes each individual SB or extra base attempt in a vacuum. It also assumes that regardless of the outcome of the event, the defensive team will play and position themselves the same way. You can't tell me that getting to 3rd base (via SB, 1st to 3rd, or tag up) that the defense, and even pitcher for that matter, will pitch/position the same way as if the runner was held at 2nd. The value of getting to 3b, especially with less that 2 outs, is very high.

I am a big proponent of aggressive base running. When you are aggressive you put extra stress on the defensive team. There are going to be times when you run into outs, but I think the overall value is much higher.

As for Scott Rolen there are times in which he has been gunned out trying to work for an extra base. When you hear opposing players, managers, and scouts rave about Scott Rolen's base running I am more inclined to put more faith in them than a BP method that seems flawed to me.

I completely agree.

For years, Sabermetrics undervalued defense, because it looked at it abstractly in a vacuum, and concluded that it didn't affect the game that much. It was assumed that defense only had around a 5% impact on the outcome of games.

Then they developed the methods they have today, of examining every play and they realized that it had a much bigger effect than previously thought. They quickly changed their position (too much some argue) and now consider defense to be a very big part of determining the outcome of the game and of determining the value of a player.

I am very confident that at some point the same progress will be made with base running. The biggest problem they have, as many have argued here on this thread, that they assume every out is worth the same or that over the course of a season, it will even out, so that every out that a team makes on the base path will be worth the same, and that every extra base taken will be worth the same, or average out to be worth the same over the course of the season.

What they miss is twofold, at least. First they miss that some players, like Rolen, have an ability to take an extra base when the team needs its the most. They take the chance in the smartest situations, when an out means less and/or when an extra base means more. So while the abstract math might say that they cost the team runs, in reality, they are creating extra runs for the team. Counter to that are players who do the opposite, who run when there is little value to gain from the extra base, like Ryan Freel. Freel and Rolen could have the exact same numbers in terms of BP's formula, but Rolen would be helping his team, while Freel could be hurting it.

This I believe is true for teams as a whole. An aggressive running style is not to just run every time, but to run every time that it is smart to run. You might get thrown out more, but those outs would cost less, and the extra bases you gain would benefit more, than the average. And if they don't run when it's dumb to run, that affects the value of each out and each base taken even more. I am not saying that this is the case for the Reds, their base running could be costing them runs and wins, however, the formula that BP uses would not accurately find that out.

Second, and this is where I think it misses the most, is the effect of a general running strategy has on the opposing team. Not just in terms of defense, but in terms of pitching. I grew up in the 80's watching the Whitey Herzog Cardinal's literally run havoc on the base paths, and turning that havoc into runs and victories. I see that same philosophy in the Reds this year. Teams positioned their defense differently to try to stop players from taking extra bases, which opened up holes for the hitters, which they used to get extra hits. Tommy Herr on any other team hits at least 30 points lower because of this.

But more importantly, it changed the approach of the opposing pitchers. Not only did they throw more fastballs, but they were constantly distracted, throwing over, worrying as much about the lead the runner was getting as the next pitch they were going to throw. And this mostly was to keep runners from going first to third, not stolen bases.

So, imo, a team overall could run into more outs than the formula says is smart, but still benefit from an aggressive running style. Until BP or other Sabermetric sites are able to add those factors above into their formula, then their results are missing too much.

Captain Hook
09-23-2010, 05:22 PM
There are some teams that have terrible catchers and outfielders that would let Sean Casey go 1st to 3rd all day.Would we know these things if other teams never tried to exploit these weaknesses?Wouldn't some teams be missing out on a huge advantage?I don't think anyone here is suggesting that MLB teams start playing it like softball teams do but I feel that a huge advantage can be had over other teams that are unable to stop aggressive base running by taking a few extra bases.

As far as Phillips goes.I agree that he seems much slower then he thinks he is.

Griffey012
09-23-2010, 05:25 PM
Part of the reason they make the most boneheaded plays is because they make the most plays, period. But our brains are wired to remember those plays which elicit a strong emotional reaction, so we tend to remember the negative plays disproportionately -- as a counting stat which simply accrues negatives rather than as a rate stat in which the negatives and positives balance each other out. Also, and this is what i was getting at above, we are more likely to remember things that confirm our pre-existing beliefs. So if we think BP is a bad base-runner, you will sub-consciously be on the lookout for things that reinforce that belief.

Don't get me wrong, I was surprised as anybody that Phillips rated well. But he was by far the best on the team at taking an extra base on hits and fly ball outs. These likely don't stand out that much since they aren't terribly exciting.

But I would caution you against dismissing a stat simply because it suggests a conclusion which differs from the one you currently hold. Whether or not you "believe" a stat should be based on its underlying logic and methodology, not on whether it's conclusion feels right. The great thing about stats is that, if they are flawed, we can point to the thing we have a problem with. Our own internal math is completely opaque and subject to biases that even the best of us have trouble accounting for.

That's not to say that perception is wrong or that stats are always right -- in this case or any. Often our eyes help us to identify something the stat misses or handles poorly. But the idea of the earth going around the sun felt plainly and obviously wrong to most people too.

I can see this with Stubbs, he is just too fast to not make an impact. However, as HomerBailey pointed out Phillips just doesn't appear to be that fast anymore. I don't have an agenda for or against Phillips as a base-runner which changing my opinion or effecting my memory, simply put he has made the most base-running mistakes on the team and I can be pretty confident in that.

Now that I have dug a bit further into the statistic itself I see where the results are coming from. This is not a statistic to represents the "best baserunner" but it pretty much represents which fast guys utilize their speed the best.

Here is where I see 2 fallacies in this metric:

1.) The "expected runs" are simply based off a large amount of data over many years, which should normalize to the results from the "average" base runner. Scott Rolen is a big, older guy...he no longer probably even has "average" speed. So while he gets knocked in this metric for not having as many runs as expected based on his opportunities, he may very well create more runs than would be expected for someone of his overall speed.

2.) I wonder exactly how it calculates an "advancement opportunity". For hit advancement BP states "Hit advancement opportunities: number of times a runner could have gone from first to third on a single, first to home on a double, or second to home on a single." Does this amount to how many times a runner was on first or second and a hitter gets a base hit? Or does it take into consideration where the ball is hit to, and then use historical data to determine it a possibility to advance from 1st to 3rd? If it is the first case, then those hitting in the 1 and 2 spots in the batting order are going to benefit from the 3,4,5 guys hitting behind them because they are more likely to hit the base clearing doubles, or deeper singles, basically hits that make it easier to take an extra base on.

RedsManRick
09-23-2010, 05:53 PM
I completely agree.

For years, Sabermetrics undervalued defense, because it looked at it abstractly in a vacuum, and concluded that it didn't affect the game that much. It was assumed that defense only had around a 5% impact on the outcome of games.

Just curious, who made that estimate and when? I'm guessing it wasn't within the last 15 years.


Then they developed the methods they have today, of examining every play and they realized that it had a much bigger effect than previously thought. They quickly changed their position (too much some argue) and now consider defense to be a very big part of determining the outcome of the game and of determining the value of a player.

I am very confident that at some point the same progress will be made with base running. The biggest problem they have, as many have argued here on this thread, that they assume every out is worth the same or that over the course of a season, it will even out, so that every out that a team makes on the base path will be worth the same, and that every extra base taken will be worth the same, or average out to be worth the same over the course of the season.

I'm sorry, but this is patently untrue. Read the BP methodology again. It uses the run values corresponding to every possible out and base-state combination, 27 in all I believe. It then says, what's the run value difference between what happened in that base-running event and where it was before you started. Or put another way, how much did you change your team's expected run total for that inning? And it uses a custom version of that table based on the different run scoring environments of each park. This is the exact same process used in constructing the linear weight models which under-gird virtually all run production metrics.

For example:


99-02 0 Out 1 Out 2 Out
Empty 0.555 0.297 0.117
1st 0.953 0.573 0.251
2nd 1.189 0.725 0.344
3rd 1.482 0.983 0.387
1st_2nd 1.573 0.971 0.466
1st_3rd 1.904 1.243 0.538
2nd_3rd 2.052 1.467 0.634
Loaded 2.417 1.65 0.815

Let's take the case of a guy on 1st with 1 out when the batter hits a single. This is counted as a hit advancement opportunity. The baseline expectation is arriving safely at 2B as any runner could do this. The run expectancy for this state, 1st and 2nd with 1 out is 0.971 runs.

So what happens if he tries for 3rd? If he makes it, it's 1st and 3rd with 1 out, a 1.243 run expectancy. The runner is credited with adding .272 runs (1.243-0.971), the difference between 1st & 2nd vs. 1st & 3rd. If he gets thrown out, 1st only with 2 outs, the run expectancy is .251 runs. The runner gets credited -0.72 runs (.251-.971). So once the guy chooses to run,So it hurts about 2.65 times more to be out than it helps to be safe. This produces a break even point of ~73% chance of making it safely.

By contrast, let's take this same scenario with 0 outs. Safe = going from 1.573 (1st & 2nd, 0 out) to 1.904. A net of +.331. And out takes you from 1.573 to .573. A net of -1.0. 75% chance to be a safe break even point.

And with 2 out: Safe = +.072. Out = -.466. 87% break even point.

On an absolute scale it hurts your team the most to get thrown out with 0 outs. But proportionate to the value of being safe, it's the biggest deal with 2 outs.

Of course, if you're talking about the currency of wins, not runs, the math changes... Early in a game, runs and win likelihood go hand-in-hand. Go for the strategy that results in more runs, period. Late in the game, when runs are much more scarce (because you have fewer chances left to get them( particularly down 1 or tied with 2 outs in the 9th), all you care about is your chance of scoring at least 1 run. They have comparable tables for that too and the math is similar, using % chances of scoring at all instead average runs. http://www.tangotiger.net/wiki/index.php?title=Run_Expectancy

I think that's what you're talking about next.



What they miss is twofold, at least. First they miss that some players, like Rolen, have an ability to take an extra base when the team needs its the most. They take the chance in the smartest situations, when an out means less and/or when an extra base means more.
Just to make sure I'm clear, you're arguing that Rolen picks his spots better -- not that he's more likely to succeed in these situations than he is other times. Correct?

So while the abstract math might say that they cost the team runs, in reality, they are creating extra runs for the team. Counter to that are players who do the opposite, who run when there is little value to gain from the extra base, like Ryan Freel. Freel and Rolen could have the exact same numbers in terms of BP's formula, but Rolen would be helping his team, while Freel could be hurting it.
Yes and no. In terms of the value of a given run to the team's chances of winning a game, sure, sometimes an extra base means more to your chances of winning than it does in other times. This uses just straight runs, not win likelihood contribution. But most offensive metrics just look at linear weight values, not win likelihood %. Though fangraphs has one for that... leverage index.

However, per the point above, outs in different situations are assigned different run values. This is accounted for. Given equal success rates, the guy who picked his spots better will have a higher EqBRR.

Additionally, does not account for is the quality of the hitter(s) coming up next -- but then again, neither does any other offensive production stat I know of and we seem pretty comfortable with those.


This I believe is true for teams as a whole. An aggressive running style is not to just run every time, but to run every time that it is smart to run. You might get thrown out more, but those outs would cost less, and the extra bases you gain would benefit more, than the average. And if they don't run when it's dumb to run, that affects the value of each out and each base taken even more. I am not saying that this is the case for the Reds, their base running could be costing them runs and wins, however, the formula that BP uses would not accurately find that out.
I'm trying to imagine the scenario you describe where the base is more valuable than normal but the out is less valuable than normal. It would seem to me that as leverage goes up, as the value of getting that next base goes up, the value of simply being on base at all would be higher too. If you're simply talking about running in spots where the run value difference of success is in higher proportion to the cost of the out, well that's captured in the BP methodolgy, as described above.


Second, and this is where I think it misses the most, is the effect of a general running strategy has on the opposing team. Not just in terms of defense, but in terms of pitching. I grew up in the 80's watching the Whitey Herzog Cardinal's literally run havoc on the base paths, and turning that havoc into runs and victories. I see that same philosophy in the Reds this year. Teams positioned their defense differently to try to stop players from taking extra bases, which opened up holes for the hitters, which they used to get extra hits. Tommy Herr on any other team hits at least 30 points lower because of this.
Just curious if you could provide an example. I'm not saying they don't, I'm just not aware of what's changing and whether it's truly in response to our aggressive approach.



But more importantly, it changed the approach of the opposing pitchers. Not only did they throw more fastballs, but they were constantly distracted, throwing over, worrying as much about the lead the runner was getting as the next pitch they were going to throw. And this mostly was to keep runners from going first to third, not stolen bases.

So, imo, a team overall could run into more outs than the formula says is smart, but still benefit from an aggressive running style. Until BP or other Sabermetric sites are able to add those factors above into their formula, then their results are missing too much.

To clarify, you're arguing that the team may be costing itself on the bases, but that it is driving increased production at the plate, with a net positive effect. I don't doubt that this effects exist to some degree.

But let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. I completely understand the criticism which says that the stat is incomplete. It is. It does not capture all of the effects of the aggressive style. But the same could be said about pitching metrics that fail to capture the value of reduced workloads on relievers from a guy like Roy Halladay. Almost everything in baseball has some secondary effects that aren't captured in direct measurement of the events themselves.

But I've never understand the conclusion which says, in the face of the imperfect metric, I'd rather stick with the conclusion from my gut than take what we can measure well from the actual events and adjust from there. And I'm not sure if you're arguing that this last issue affects guys differently. If anything, I imagine it would mostly come from the high volume guys. I doubt teams are throwing over to 1B to keep Rolen from going 1st to 3rd. But I could be wrong.

Just curious, what would you venture the run value of those other effects is? Does the offensive produce 10 more runs than it would have otherwise. 50 runs? Obviously I know it's not something we can separate out, but you're so willing to dismiss the BP data out of hand because it doesn't capture this. Surely you have some sense that it is completely outweighed by this effect. Is that accurate?

Spitball
09-23-2010, 06:32 PM
Votto it may surprise some, it sure did me, has a SB% right at 75% this year. Phillips is a HORRIBLE 57%. Like the Chewbacca defense, this does not make sense! Clearly BP is faster than Votto. But he doesn't know when NOT to run. This is another aspect of Votto's overall game that makes him so... valuable. :)

Stolen bases are hard to fgure sometimes. Johnny Bench is one of the most interesting studies I've ever seen. From 1967 through 1974, he was 24 SB against 26 CS. He was terrible.

Then, for the two years of 1975-'76, he was an incredible 24 and 2. For the rest of his career, he was merely 15 and 15.

What happened for two years where his percentage was better than both speedsters Joe Morgan's and Ken Griffey's? Did he suddenly develop speed? Did he get new shoes? I believe he was a smart base runner who exploited the element of surprise. I know at least some of his steals in '75 and '76 came on delayed steals and probably others on one end of double steals.

Like Votto, the 24 and 2 record was not about speed but about the opposition failing to recognize Bench as a threat to steal.

RedsManRick
09-23-2010, 06:42 PM
Here is where I see 2 fallacies in this metric:

1.) The "expected runs" are simply based off a large amount of data over many years, which should normalize to the results from the "average" base runner. Scott Rolen is a big, older guy...he no longer probably even has "average" speed. So while he gets knocked in this metric for not having as many runs as expected based on his opportunities, he may very well create more runs than would be expected for someone of his overall speed.

I'm not sure I understand this. Those bases still matter. We don't ask what a 35 year old guy should hit and base our assessment of his OPS on that? Bases are bases. Runs are runs. If you aren't getting it done as well as an alternative, you aren't getting it done. If we want to benchmark him against other 3B or other 35 year olds, we can easily do that with this metric just like we'd do with any other.



2.) I wonder exactly how it calculates an "advancement opportunity". For hit advancement BP states "Hit advancement opportunities: number of times a runner could have gone from first to third on a single, first to home on a double, or second to home on a single." Does this amount to how many times a runner was on first or second and a hitter gets a base hit? Or does it take into consideration where the ball is hit to, and then use historical data to determine it a possibility to advance from 1st to 3rd? If it is the first case, then those hitting in the 1 and 2 spots in the batting order are going to benefit from the 3,4,5 guys hitting behind them because they are more likely to hit the base clearing doubles, or deeper singles, basically hits that make it easier to take an extra base on.

The quality of hits is not accounted for. While I do believe there is variance in hit quality, I imagine it evens itself out over time by and large. If we believe there is a large systematic bias in the quality of opportunities because of an issue like the one you describe (quality, not quantity), this would be an issue.

Griffey012
09-23-2010, 08:18 PM
I'm not sure I understand this. Those bases still matter. We don't ask what a 35 year old guy should hit and base our assessment of his OPS on that? Bases are bases. Runs are runs. If you aren't getting it done as well as an alternative, you aren't getting it done. If we want to benchmark him against other 3B or other 35 year olds, we can easily do that with this metric just like we'd do with any other.

I brought this up to point out why the two stats cannot be used to identify "good base runners" Those in the upper echelon may not be good base runners, but they may be fast enough to make up for poor base running skills. Whereas a stat like WAR, many different types of players (speedsters, power guys, all-around hitters) can be compared on an even playing field.


QUOTE=RedsManRick;2266470]The quality of hits is not accounted for. While I do believe there is variance in hit quality, I imagine it evens itself out over time by and large. If we believe there is a large systematic bias in the quality of opportunities because of an issue like the one you describe (quality, not quantity), this would be an issue.[/QUOTE]

I thought about this because when looking at the top 30 (linked below) only Stubbs, Will Venable, Brett Gardner, Alcides Escobar, and BJ Upton hit in the lower part of the order. From what I calculated 14 spent most of their time at leadoff, 3 were 2 hole hitters, 4 were # 3 hitters, 5 were lower order hitters, and and a couple bounced all around the lineup. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/statistics/sortable/index.php?cid=69261 (thanks to RoyTucker for the link)

You mentioned you believe over time the variance in hit quality evens out, would this potentially be a stat to look at over a multi-year span much like UZR?

TheNext44
09-23-2010, 10:28 PM
Without doing the quotey thing because it's just too complicated and takes up too much space, let me respond to RMR response to my response to his response ;)

First, we've had this discussion on this board before. The quote I am referring to is in Moneyball, where someone in it makes the 5% remark about defense. I don't have the book anymore, and don't want to buy it, read it again and find the specific page number, but it is in there, and the last time this was brought up, many other readers of the book said they read the same thing.
One key point i want to make, however, is that in that same book, Beane talks about how he is looking into a new way of evaluating defense, which sounds a lot like what we have now. This is important because I was making my original point about Sabermetrics in order to defend it. It had a fault, it's inability to quantitate defense, but was always moving forward to correcting that problem, and not has done so, but nearly everyone in the community has excepted the new methodology and new stats. This is exactly what makes Sabermetrics such a powerful tool. It is always looking for new answers to every problem.

Regardless, I just need to refer people to discussions on this board a few years ago about the value of Adam Dunn to demonstrate how the saber community undervalued defense before the new defensive stats came out. I, along with many others, considered Dunn a 4-5 win player. That was argued ad nauseum for literally years on this board. It wasn't until WAR was invented that everyone started to understand Dunn's true value. Trying to argue that the Saber community did not undervalue defense before there these new stats came around is really revisionist history.

As for RMR's second point, he's right, I'm wrong. Oops. Nevermind ;)

As for his third point. my only response at this point, because I am too tired to get into detail, is that in my opinion, speed and aggressive baserunning can be a game changer, no matter how much I hate that term. It changes the game so much that stats based on decade long averages just don't do the job. Speed and aggressive baserunning introduced into the game, as an overall philosophy, make every player play the game differently, so differently, that you can't use the same methodology and stats to evaluate it that you use for regular games, or averages of all games played. Maybe it doesn't work, maybe it hurts teams that use it, but trying to prove that with the use of regular stats and regular averages won't work.

RedsManRick
09-23-2010, 10:29 PM
You mentioned you believe over time the variance in hit quality evens out, would this potentially be a stat to look at over a multi-year span much like UZR?

I would certainly be interested to see how fast the data stabilizes over time. Like UZR, it's meant as a measure of past performance, not of skill/ability. But I imagine a few years of data would give you pretty good insight in to skill.

Tornon
09-23-2010, 11:17 PM
I just noticed that for some reason, THIS year, BP's SB% is way down. I'm guessing it is injury related, but I can't imagine Votto beating him in a footrace today. That leaves us with when not to run.

I'm pretty sure it is injury related. I remember BP was out with a hamstring issue for a few days in mid-May before he decided to start playing again, and we were told he would not be healthy again completely until the offseason. So I believe this has more or less been a lost year for anything involving Brandon's legs