Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sox On the Basepaths

Kelly O'Connor

In addition to providing projections for hitters and pitchers in 2008, the Bill James Handbook also rates the base running abilities of players. James provides every hitter in the majors a baserunning rating. These ratings are based on how factors such as bases taken, advances on outs, advancing extra bases on balls put in play, stolen bases, and outs made on the basepaths.

I'll provide two numbers. The first number is their baserunning rating. The second number is the percentage of the time that a player scored once they got on base (largely dependent on their spot in the order).

Jacoby Ellsbury: +13, 31%
Dustin Pedroia: +3, 34%

David Ortiz: +5, 30%
Manny Ramirez: -1, 29%

Mike Lowell: -11, 23%,
J.D. Drew: +6, 33%
Kevin Youkilis: +10, 28%

Jason Varitek: -23, 22%

Julio Lugo: +20, 29%

Alex Cora: 33%, +3

Coco Crisp: 35%, +37

Based on this information, you could make a case for Youkilis batting second in the order. He is a much better baserunner than Pedroia. Last year, Youkilis was rated the best baserunner on the team. For the second year in a row, Varitek was the team's worst baserunner. Overall in 2007, the Red Sox ranked as the 11th best baserunning team in the majors.


Michael said...

i find it almost impossible to believe that big papi is a better base-runner than pedroia. does this make sense to anyone?

Marc said...

Wow, you really did your research.

The Rays landed Rodriguez!

Ethan Michaels said...

This may come as a surprise to people who don't follow the Red Sox on an every day basis, and even to some who do, but Ortiz is actually a pretty good baserunner. As to why he ranked ahead of Pedroia last year:

Ortiz moved up an extra base last year much more times than Pedroia, accounting for 7 more total bases.

Also, Ortiz advanced on an out three times without getting doubled off once. Pedroia advanced on an out only once and got doubled off four times.

Michael said...

thanks for that detailed info
as you say, I never would have guessed
I have a keeling that pedroia's skills on the basepaths are only going to get better

Ethan Michaels said...

A certain degree of a baserunning rating year to year involves luck. Players are punished quite a bit for running into outs on the basepaths, as they should be. Adrian Gonzalez went from the worst baserunner in the majors in 2006 as he got doubled off 6 times, to a slightly above baserunner in 2007 as he wasn't doubled off at all. It's rather impressive then that Pedroia ranked as an above average baserunner last year when he was doubled off four times. If he can manage to improve that, he'd likely be rated a better baserunner than Ortiz. Ortiz has been a marginally above average baserunner the past two years.

The Man said...

Hey Ethan not sure if you hit upon this so I thought I'd give it to you..

According to ESPN's Peter Gammons, Manny Ramirez rented a house in the Phoenix area and has become a "maniacal workout warrior" at the Athletes' Performance Institute.

"From what I've heard from people at API, Manny is getting himself into phenomenal shape," Gammons wrote. Ramirez has additional incentive to put up a big year as he enters the final guaranteed season of his eight-year, $160 million contract. The Red Sox hold $20 million options on him for 2009and 2010.

Ethan Michaels said...

Hey, thanks a lot for the link. That actually caught my eye as well. I wrote an article that discussed it a few days ago...

"There are signs that Ramirez is finally realizing he isn't 30 any more. According to Peter Gammons, Manny's become a "manicle workout warrior". Manicle is Gammons' word, not mine. Gammons provides a brief first hand account of Manny's workouts, describing them as "extremely difficult."

I'll be interested to see what he looks like when he reports Spring Training.

Ethan Michaels said...

That link got cut off, it should be: