In discussing offseason acquisitions a number of "Stolen Base types" have been mentioned as potential CF replacements. Now I want the CF to have plenty of speed and range and I want a guy who is fast on the bases. However, I am of the opinion that the stolen base is way over rated and I don't really want to pursue a player whose offensive value is primarily derived from stealing bases. I would go so far to say that the actual value of a good base stealer may be the pressure put on the defense, distraction to the pitcher, etc. Moreso than the actual base acquired. It seems that a steal is just the little man's way of simulating an extra base hit but carries with it a significant risk of getting thrown out. Why go for steal guys when you can just get a guy that hits a double in the first place? Seems a lot less risky. This got me to thinking about statistically measuring the effect of the base stealer on an offense.
I apologize in advance because I'm not really a huge stat guy from a calculating and theorizing perspective, but I do think they are important tools for evaluating a player's past and future performance when properly used. So if anything I'm about to say is way off base don't shoot me. I also find it hard to believe that I'm the first to think about this. Sorry if this is a dead horse.
Many on here use OPS as a guideline which I also put a lot of stock in. OPS seems to be a little lacking to me when a lot of a player's value is derived from the steal. This got me thinking that maybe some type of adjusted OPS should be used. Specifically the Slugging % portion should add a base acquired to the numerator for each steal. In addition times caught and picked-off should also be factored in. I would think that you should subtract 1 from the numerator of the OBP calculation for each CS or time picked-off. You should subtract at least 1 from the numerator of the slugging percentage calculation. I would go a step further and subtract one for each base given up. If a guy is caught stealing 3rd, I'd subtract 2 because 2 bases had already been acquired. Similarly, if a guy was picked off of third, I would subtract 3 because 3 bases had already been acquired. Not trying to create a new stat here but the number of bases surrendered seems as important as the fact that an out was made or runner removed. Logically it seems that having a runner removed from 3B would be more damaging than one removed from 1B. Using this logic, base stealers need to be extremely successful to add to the basic value that OPS provides. I haven't done the math (can't find stats for Pick-offs) but I would think that Ryan Freel would actually hurt his value because of the number of times caught and picked-off.
Based on the above, I have a few questions for the board. Do you think the premise is faulty? Has any research or similar calculation been done? Are times picked-off included in the calculations that exist? I see CS factored in the EqA formula, but it doesn't seem punitive enough to me for the damage that getting thrown out seems to do. I don't see times picked off in any stats. What I'm really interested in is finding, for lack of a better term, a base stealing break-even point. How successful does a guy have to be on steals to be adding value? If he isn't highly successful how much value is he losing?
A link to any research in this area would be appreciated. If none exists, are there any places that statistics are accumulated for times picked-off? Any way to find which base a guy was caught stealing at or picked-off from? I wouldn't mind doing this calculation for a few selected players if I can find the data. I'd probably start with Freel (who gets picked-off and caught a lot) and Phillips (who seems to have a high success rate). I would also like to see what this calculation would do to Pierre, Lofton, Roberts and a few of the other CF suggestions that make me tremble in fear.
Thanks for any information.