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Thread: Does Speed Help?

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    2009: Fail Ltlabner's Avatar
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    Does Speed Help?

    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?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Code:
    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%



    Code:
    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)

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    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.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    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.
    Last edited by Ltlabner; 12-28-2008 at 05:32 PM.
    a super volcano of ridonkulous suckitude.

    I simply don't have access to a "cares about RBI" place in my psyche. There is a "mildly curious about OBI%" alcove just before the acid filled lake guarded by robot snipers with lasers which leads to the "cares about RBI" antechamber though. - Nate

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  3. #2
    Member Spitball's Avatar
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    Re: Does Speed Help?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ltlabner View Post
    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.
    "I am your child from the future. I'm sorry I didn't tell you this earlier." - Dylan Easton

  4. #3
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Does Speed Help?

    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:
    Code:
    #	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.
    Last edited by RedsManRick; 12-28-2008 at 05:49 PM.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Re: Does Speed Help?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ltlabner View Post
    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.

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Does Speed Help?

    Speed never slumps.

    Branch Rickey

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    2009: Fail Ltlabner's Avatar
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    Re: Does Speed Help?

    Quote Originally Posted by PuffyPig View Post
    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.
    a super volcano of ridonkulous suckitude.

    I simply don't have access to a "cares about RBI" place in my psyche. There is a "mildly curious about OBI%" alcove just before the acid filled lake guarded by robot snipers with lasers which leads to the "cares about RBI" antechamber though. - Nate

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    Knowledge Is Good Big Klu's Avatar
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    Re: Does Speed Help?

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou View Post
    Speed never slumps.

    Branch Rickey
    Obviously a crackpot.
    Eric Stratton, Rush Chairman. Damn glad to meet ya.

  9. #8
    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Does Speed Help?

    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.

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    Re: Does Speed Help?

    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.

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Does Speed Help?

    Quote Originally Posted by TOBTTReds View Post
    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.

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    Member Ron Madden's Avatar
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    Re: Does Speed Help?

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    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.

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    Re: Does Speed Help?

    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.

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    nothing more than a fan Always Red's Avatar
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    Re: Does Speed Help?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ltlabner View Post
    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.

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    Re: Does Speed Help?

    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.
    Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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    Re: Does Speed Help?

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    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.


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