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Sunday, July 11, 2004

Base-stealing, redux 

Rowdy from Honest Wagner sent me a few comments about my post regarding base-stealing and run-creation that I thought were interesting … Upon further examination I realize that I should have been using runs instead of runs created as my measuring stick, in retrospect, but c’est la vie. The basic conclusions that I derived from the data were that the top run-producing teams in the NL were also, with the exception of the Cardinals, some of the most steal-adverse teams in the NL, while conversely the teams that used base-stealing as a run-production tactic were actually unsuccessful. The data, I noted, strengthened the arguments made by sabremetricians [sic?] that base-stealing is counter-productive because it wastes base-runners and (worse) outs.

Rowdy commented that context was important when it came to evaluating base-stealing (no argument there), and he commented about the traditional differences between the AL and NL. Because the AL uses the DH and the NL still plays 9-on-9, Rowdy argued, the NL teams have to scrap for runs more because they basically have an automatic out coming up every nine batters.

Curious about the AL numbers, I looked it up. Here is what I found out about the AL and base-stealing:

The top 5 offensive AL teams: (RC27)
1. Boston Red Sox: 5.85
2. Chicago White Sox: 5.71
3. Texas Rangers: 5.68
4. Detroit Tigers: 5.55
5. New York Yankees: 5.55

With 48 attempts, the Red Sox ranked 12th of 14 teams in steal-attempts. (Not surprisingly, the three AL teams helmed by GMs who were influenced by Bill James work are also dead-last in AL steals attempts: Theo Epstein’s Red Sox, the J.P. Riccardi-helmed Blue Jays are 13th with just 43 attempts, and the Billy Beane-led A’s are dead-last with 40.) The Yankees (62 attempts), Rangers (63 attempts) and White Sox (68) were tenth, ninth and eighth respectively in base-stealing. The sole exception here are the Tigers, with 90 attempts, who are fifth in steals attempts (although given the spacious confines of Comerica, base-stealing is probably a good idea).

How did the bottom five fare?
10. Minnesota Twins: 4.72
11. Toronto Blue Jays: 4.70
12. Tampa Bay Devil Rays: 4.60
13. Seattle Mariners: 4.28
14. Kansas City Royals: 4.12

Not that badly: the Devil Rays are second in the AL after Anaheim (104) with 102 attempts. Seattle is seventh in steal attempts, the Twins are sixth, etc. The teams that stole a lot (Anaheim with 104; the Orioles with 92; the Indians with 91) were all pretty middle of the road in terms of offensive production. (The Angels were ninth in RC27.)

So why are the differences so stark? Here is my theory: NL teams give up 3-5 outs a game due to pitchers and pinch-hitters coming into the game cold. Which means that NL are really just playing with 22-24 outs a game. NL teams simply cannot afford to waste any outs, whereas AL teams get the full benefit of their 27 because DH’s are usually decent-to-terrific hitters. An AL team can “waste” an out or two, but NL teams need all of their outs to be successful. The penalty for failing to successfully steal is higher in the NL, thus teams that conserve their outs are successful.



Yahoo News - Oct. 13, 2005

Yahoo Japan steps up mobile content distribution (Reuters via Yahoo! News)
Yahoo Japan Corp. said on Thursday it had launched a mobile content distribution service, in which cellphone users can buy games, ring tones, news and other entertainment and information from 59 content providers.

Microsoft, Yahoo to link instant messages (USATODAY.com via Yahoo! News)
Microsoft and Yahoo will make their instant-messaging programs work together, a partnership that could give the companies more power to compete against market leader America Online. The companies expect the service to start by June 2006.

Yahoo to Bar Minor-Adult Sex Chat Rooms (Washington Post)
NEW YORK -- Yahoo Inc. said Wednesday it will bar chat rooms that promote sex between minors and adults and restrict all chat rooms to users 18 and older.

Today's News From & About Yahoo

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