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Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Creating Runs, revisited... 

Back a few months ago I wrote about how teams that stole bases didn’t have much success on offense. “Creating runs” by stealing bases is a favored cliché of the establishment, but as the book Moneyball showed, the A’s eskewed the strategy because teams that “created runs” ended up destroying opportunities by wasting baserunners and outs. I had the observation confirmed in late June after I watched the Phillies blow an opportunity to score some runs against the Red Sox when they sent Placido Polanco to steal second with Abreu at the plate. Polanco was caught and the Phillies wasted an out and an opportunity when Abreu promptly got on base with a double.

I revisited my conclusions. I ranked each team by it’s number of steals, and then I put down each team’s GPA (1.8 * .OBP + .SLG) / 4 and rank next to it.

Attempted Steals / GPA / (GPA Rank)
1. Milwaukee: 178 / .241 (14)
2. St. Louis: 158 / .270 (2)
3. Montreal: 147 / .238 (15)
4. Los Angeles: 143 / .255 (9)
5. New York Mets: 139 / .245 (13)
6. Florida: 130 / .250 (11)
7. Philadelphia: 127 / .266 (4)
8. Houston: 119 / .263 (6)
9. Atlanta: 118 / .263 (5)
10. Pittsburgh: 103 / .245 (12)
11. Cincinnati: 102 / .253 (10)
12. Chicago: 94 / .262 (7)
13. Arizona: 85 / .238 (16)
14. Colorado: 77 / .269 (3)
15. San Diego: 77 / .257 (8)
16. San Francisco: 66 / .270 (1)

A few observations:

The top five teams in attempts were 2nd, 9th, 13th, 14th, and 15th in Gross Productive Average on 2004. The bottom five teams were 1st, 3rd, 7th, 8th, and 16th. Not as convincing as I hoped it would be. Certainly the Mets, Brewers and Expos helped my argument, but the numbers weren’t as dramatic as I thought (although, if you throw out the Diamondbacks, my numbers look better).

-I wonder about the National League’s “pitcher factor”: I think it is easier for a team to be a Moneyball team in the AL than in the NL due to the DH. You can put a slower, defensively challenged player in the DH slot in the AL (e.g., David Ortiz), but in the NL you have to deal with the pitcher, the black hole in the #9 slot in your lineup. Teams tend to steal and sac bunt thanks to the spectre of their pitcher flailing away at pitches in the dirt. A quick look at the numbers gives me a little ammo: the A’s attempted just 69 steals and played pretty well on offense. The Red Sox attempted just 98 steals and had the best offense in the AL.

I'll see if I can revisit this topic in the future...

Comments:
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