Getting To Know Stats: Baserunning

Cincinnati Reds v. Toronto Blue Jays

By Darren Helley

Big hitters drive in the runs; Baserunners are the runs. A vital aspect of the game that has lacked statistical depth is baserunning. A lost art that can be as valuable to scoring runs as the batter at the plate, baserunning is a far dense spectrum of baseball beyond the immediate idea of it being simply about the stolen bases.

Run Scoring Percentage: Simply put, the percentage of times a baserunner eventually scores a run. This statistic combines various aspects of baserunning, such as stolen bases, taking extra bases and production as a pinch runner.

RS% = (R – HR) / (H + HBP + BB – HR + G_pr)

As the equation shows, Home Runs are eliminated from the formula due to that outcome involves no live baserunning, for you can’t get thrown or tagged out whilst running the bases if you’ve just hit a home run. Beyond this, all outcomes that result in a player being on base construct the formula.

It’s very important to note that RS% is solely based on how many times a player runs the bases and scores a run to how many times he is on base. This means that factors such as Stolen Bases and Taking Extra Bases don’t factor into determining RS%, but simply influence it in a logistical standpoint. Advancing bases at a higher acceleration (i.e. stealing bases) will undoubtedly position the baserunner in more situations where he is in scoring position, thus increasing his possibilities of scoring a run.

Stolen Base Percentage: The poster-child statistic of baserunning and the measure of a player’s speed, stolen bases is the emphatic and thrilling method in advancing the bases as a baserunner. The equation is very straight forward, for it is the amount of Stolen Bases divided by the aggregate figure of Stolen Bases and Caught Stealing (SB / (SB + CS)). Stolen bases as a statistical entity can be very dense and can be broken down into analysing strengths and weaknesses of a baserunner while attempting to steal. In addition, it focuses on the control of a player’s speed and aggression whilst stealing. Stolen bases can be a huge gamble given the circumstances of the game; players with a higher SB% will far out-value those whom have a high SB total but a lower percentage.

You can isolate the totals of a particular base that a baserunner steals (i.e SB2, stealing second base; CS3, caught stealing for third base). Beyond that, Pickoffs can also be a viewpoint towards a baserunner’s technique, discipline and alertness towards where the baseball is. Pickoffs occur on the mound and executed by the pitcher in attempts to catch the baserunner off guard on his respective base.

Extra Bases Taken Percentage: The percentage of times in which a baserunner advances more than one base on a single and two bases on a double. By that, we mean how often a player can extend his hit onto the next base and place himself in a greater position to score a run (i.e. turning a single into a double).

That fatal decision of whether to take that next base after getting a base hit. Taking the extra base is influenced a lot by the location of the ball in play and reflects a hitter’s awareness of where he has hit the ball and the ability to transition into a baserunner within a heartbeat. Obtaining a high EBT% will showcase the ideal combination of contact hitting and effective baserunning. Like with Stolen Bases, taking the extra base is a gamble as a baserunner. In a very short time frame, one must anticipate where the ball will end up once he makes his turn and advances, as well as taking into account the distance of the ball and who exactly will be attempting to kill him by throwing him out on the next base.

Outs on Base: Of all the risk-reward statistics covered, we end or baserunning statistics edition on such that reflects that drawbacks of gambling as a baserunner: outs. Being out as a baserunner is a costly error on the player’s part, one that can deflate the team’s bench and smother out a potential rally on offense. Scenarios in which an OOB occurs can vary from being tagged up between the bases; attempting to advance a base and thrown out, or being ‘doubled off’ (i.e. the second out on a double play) whilst being on base. Situations such as Pickoffs and Caught Stealing do not apply to Outs on Base, for the statistic reveals the amount of unforced errors on the part of the baserunner.

Up next: our final addition to this miniature series where we dive into the statistics surrounding Player Value.

You can find Darren on twitter @DarrenHelley and join in the conversation @CTBPod

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