Hustle - Pierre, Granderson, Pokey Reese, Andrus
Don't - Holliday, Greinke, Dunn, Pat Burrell,
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Just doodling with numbers and weightings for speed, along with some Baseball-Reference and other data on baserunning values, I made an attempt to quantify top baserunners in terms of total bases and bases converted to runs value.
This is no treatise. It was an enjoyable exercise. I tried to apply values equitably across the period 1901 to the present. I may have penalized some of the older guys ... not too much, I believe.
Guys with incomplete careers, abbreviated careers, and one outstanding cup of coffee who just excelled [and each seems to qualify as a baserunner with "smarts" include]:
Sam Jethroe [the cup of coffee] ... segregation and age
Last summer, I read the recent biography on Willie Mays, which runs nearly 600 pages. It was one of the most thoroughly researched bios I've ever read on a baseball player, and one of the impressive matters which I noticed as I read was how often the author was able to tell a Mays story from specific games over his career. Several of these stories involved baserunning and his exploits on basepaths to use his speed early in his career. A typical story would involve a close game, where a potentially decisive run might score on a Mays hit and Mays would attempt to take an extra base at the expense of a rundown. It appeared to onlookers that Mays would deliberately take undue risk in the name of enticing a lead runner to attempt to score by drawing a throw. This happened often enough that it came to mind as I read this thread. He trusted his quick reflexes, and would sacrifice himself for the sake of the team like no one else at the time, and maybe since. I'm not sure any of that could be quantified, but sometimes anecdotal evidence will swing the balance when the numbers decide the matter.
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Musial I'm sure had far MORE doubles and triples and far FEWER walks and stolen bases. You, I think, would conclude that Musial was a better baserunner. This turns logic on it's head. Musial was a far superior hitter. Once the ball had left the bat, he got as far as his average foot speed would take him. Henderson, was a bonafied hall of famer, who never would have seen the hall had he not taken a batting style to get on base and to use his talents to steal base after base. Simply hitting the ball, in his best season, he was not as good as Musial in Musial's best 10.
Last edited by drstrangelove; 02-14-2012 at 01:05 PM.
I brought up three guys who ACTUALLY hustled, and ran the bases hard. That shows up in their triples total, for one.
And as far as your BS about walks, use triples per career AB instead of per PA. The Rickey is still pathetic because he didn't really hustle on the basepaths, unless it involved padding his SB totals. Period.
Musial hustled a hell of a lot more than Henderson. He ran harder, turned doubles into triples, and singles into doubles. Read what Broeg and Stanton wrote about his speed and adroitness at taking the extra base in their respective biographical works on The Donora Greyhound. Henderson had much more what the scouts would call "warning track power" in comparison to a guy like Musial. This should have led to MORE doubles and triples per AB versus a guy with a ton of home runs, not LESS (often FAR less, when compared to most of his contemporaries).
And the other thing to consider is that Rickey- esp. in his early days- was allowed to run whenever he wanted to. Martin allowed it. Rickey also played in an era of the resurgence of stolen base. In both leagues. Guys were stealing 80-100+ a year, when in Musial's prime, people were leading the league with maybe 20-40 steals...
I have absolutely no doubt Mantle was faster and others from different eras much better baserunner than Rickey Henderson, but all most do is focus on the stolen base totals.
We have to look much deeper at the entire picture to have an honest and comprehensive conversation about baserunning.
Last edited by csh19792001; 02-14-2012 at 06:07 PM.
So, "the parks" are the reason why he has the same number of career triples as Jose Offerman (who had HALF the career AB's as Rickey)....Brady Anderson (little over half)...and Lloyd Moseby (little over HALF his career AB's).
Yeah, it was definately "the parks", and NOT Rickey's tremendous lack of hustle (and/or inability) to stretch doubles into triples.
Last edited by csh19792001; 02-14-2012 at 06:07 PM.
"I You have guys like Brett Butler, Paul Molitor, and Robin Yount, who had nowhere near the raw speed but hustled on HELL of a lot more and were much better baserunners than Rickey Henderson ever was."
He may not have, read every single other word you've written. So, look again, and read this one post in isolation. Does his response have merit?
You could have argued it was out of context, and that you've also named many others as paragons, irrespective of race. But you did not.
Now, how you can shamefaced call him a racist for seeing something in that post, well, that I leave to you.
To accuse someone else of what you are defending, seems, more avoidance than anything.
Originally posted by HDH:
Vince Coleman was certainly special. He would beat out a grounder then, on base, everyone was sure he was going to steal. He would lean back toward 1B to help avoid being thrown out by the pitcher then take off to 2B. After stealing 2B, he was off to 3B. He scored so many runs in innings the Cards had no hits, just a couple of groundouts or fly outs and scored from 1B on routine singles because he was off with the pitch. Others I remember were Willie Wilson and Kirk Gibson.
Pete Rose was smart. He would take a base on any situation and then distract the fielders in order for his teammates to take that extra base or score. How many TV shotss do you see Pete Rose on base waiving to his teamamtes to take that extra base? All of them! Rose was exceptional.
Jackie Robinson was fast and daring. He was a running back in college and big for a baseball player. He intimidated defenders because he wasn't afraid to crash violently into unsuspecting or suspecting baseman waiting to tag him.
Ty Cobb is a legend and has to be considered the greatest base runner. He is documented for making outs on the base when it might not be as important just to set up the fielder into making an error on the next time Cobb was on base. Every run mattered in Cobb's time and he wanted his team to be the one who scored it, one way or another. He was possesed. All players round a bag wide whentaking multiple bases. Not Cobb. I read that he had a tecnique where he would push off the bag with his inner foot, pivoting straight toward the next bag in order to avoid rounding the bag. What most people don't know is that most of the famous photos are intended show this detail.
My opinion is that Billy Hamilton is the greatest base runner. The objective is to score runs and Hamilton is one of three players (Harry Stovey, George Gore) to score more runs than games played. His SB total is aided by the rules of the time but, he's sure to be among all time leaders regardless. Billy Hamilton established the prototype for a leadoff hitter forever with his ability to get on base, disrupt the defense, and score runs.
Again, my point is that his runs created from baserunning are being ignored because you want to punish him for not doing more.
Taking an extra base on a double 50 times in a career is no different than stealing third base 50 times. It's not 10x more important. It's the same. Henderson reached third and second more than any other player in history based based upon his baserunning. Taking an extra base is the same whether it's from stealing or stretching a hit. Unless you can show how one better than the other....
If you want to think that a smart baserunner who was thrown out 57% of the time got triples and double because he huffed and puffed as opposed to hitting screaming liners 430 feet to the wall, then so be it.
Is it a numbers guy thing that getting on base is of paramount importance but taking an extra base is no great shakes? Especially if it puts the runner in scoring position and takes away the chance for a double play?
People like Ed Tarbusz...the converse of the ultimate intellectual indolence prevailing on the internet, especially this forum....as per the usual over the years here.....yet another crackerjack fan/"Netizen" looking at/drooling over naked numbers without understanding them, and drawing all of one's conclusions from them, entirely devoid- or divested of- everything that went into the creation of those naked numbers.
This is one of THE classic "numbers slave" versus "Ed Tarbusz type" digression, transgression, and dissension...
Last edited by csh19792001; 02-15-2012 at 08:10 PM.
A contingent here says, "let's just blindly look at the numbers!" Rickey Henderson had the same number of triples as many guys with HALF his career AB's not because he was a completely self indulgent and lazy stat monger, but because it was "the parks" that resulted in his completely pathetic triples numbers, and pretty pathetic doubles rates by comparison, to boot.
Let's reduce the entirety of baseball history and shrinkwrap it into a few Excel Spreadsheets. Treat our entire perspective (and study of) baseball history as, de facto, a video game. Remove every bit of humanity from it.
What would be the harm in that?
Last edited by csh19792001; 02-15-2012 at 08:14 PM.
Previous thread on this topic
"If you hit a line drive or a flyball how is your speed going to help you beat out a throw at first base? Rickey Henderson wasn't some Mark McLemore type player who beats the ball into the ground and then sprints to first. Rickey was a patient hitter who took walks and hit well.
Triples are largely dependant on era, stadium layout, and the type of hitter one is. Rickey Henderson was a right handed hitter playing in an era not conducive to triples. As a right handed hitter his natural side was left field. He simply wasn't going to be sending many balls rattling down the right field side.
Lance Johnson led the league in triples year after year for awhile. He batted from the left side.
Willie Wilson led the league several times, he was a switch hitter who had over 2/3 of his triple batting from the left side.
Gary Templeton was a switch hitter who led the league several times and again he hit 2/3 of his triples from the left side.
Jose Reyes is a switch hitter who has hit about 85% of his triples from the left side.
Leading the league in triples is mostly done by left handed hitters not right handed hitters.
Secondly I think you are confusing what a triple means today with what a triple meant in Cobb's day. A triple in Cobb's day was largely based on power and stadium. The fields were huge and the outfielders tended to play shallow. If you could knock one over their heads or crush one by them you had a triple or an inside the park homer. The people hitting the triples back then were not the Willie Wilson type hitters but the sluggers.
Stealing home is not really that common anymore. Again it is an era thing. In Cobb's day we have a lot more attempts and this theft then we do nowadays.
As for doubles I fail to see why being fast would make you lead the league in doubles. It can certainly help you stretch singles into doubles but why would it make you lead the league in doubles? Generally the top names in the leaderboards for doubles are not speedy little runners who stretch singles into doubles but line drive and power hitters who knock the ball to the wall.
Right handed batter playing in a modern era who takes walks and has pop is not going to lead the league in triples. Leading the league in triples is a left handed man's prize.
There have been 269 triples leaders, out of that there has been only less then a third of the names being of right handed hitters. That isn't a fluke.
Of the 71 different names for the RH who led the league only 13 of them were able to do it more then once. Of the 118 names that were not RH 37 of them did it more then once. 18% of the RH names did multiple times while 31% of the LH did it multiple times.
Pete Rose leads the world in hits yet he never led the league in triples and he only managed to lead the league in singles 3 times. Yet many people think of him as a great baserunner. So here is a guy that fits your example and yet he didn't do it. Heck, here is a guy who is probably better then your example and he didn't do it.
Or how about Derek Jeter? Lots of non-home run hits yet no league leading years in triples or doubles and only has two years leading the league in singles.
So here are two guys who are either average baserunners or better and yet neither one led the league in triples.
I don't get this. Because he had a lot of AB's (which is false incidentally)suddenly he should be banging out triples? Never mind that he is a right handed hitter and isn't a super speedy guy?
By the way for all this talk about all of Rickey's hits or AB you guys seem to fail to realize that A)Rickey only finised on the leaderboard for AB's once in his entire life, B)took a lot of walks, and C)usually missed at least 10% of his teams games each season.
From 1979 to 2003 there were 61 names atop the leaderboard. Of those 61 names a right handed player was the name atop the standings 14 times. So in Rickey's day it was even less likely for a RH hitter to be atop the leaderboard then normal.
By the way when Molitor got his 13 triples to tie for lead league he had 665 AB. When Ryne Sandberg got 19 to tie for the lead league he had 636 AB. When Dawson led the league, well, he never did, but when he was hitting triples he was getting over 600 AB. When Yount did it he had 578 AB and 621 AB. Rickey went over 600 once and only went over 500 8 other times in his 25 seasons. That generally happens when you walk a lot and miss a good chunk of games every year.
The 4 names you mention have one other thing in common besides hitting those triples and that is not wanting to take a walk.
the greatest baserunnners of all time should probably realize what they can and cannot do. There is an extremely small amount of doubles that can be stretched into triples. If you don't have the speed for it and the location of the hit is not right no amount of hustle or skill is going to stretch that double into a triple. By the way guess which side of the plate both Brady and Barry hit from. How do raw triple totals indicate how often a player stretched a double into a triple? What if 50 of Rickey's triples are stretched doubles? What if they are all stretched doubles?
I just did a quick study. I looked at the AL (quickly filters out most P) from 1979 to 2003 and in that time the average LH hitter had 30% more triples then the average RH hitter. The difference stays about the same if you setup an AB filter to get more of the regulars and less of the handful of at bats players.
A 30% bonus or penalty is pretty darn huge.
But they didn't have far less opportunities. Dawson consistently got more AB in season then Rickey did, same goes for Ryne. Secondly Stade Olympique where Andre got 3 of his 4 top finishes favored triples whereas the Coliseum and Yankee Stadium did not favor triples.
Sure it might mean they are better baserunners or it could mean Rickey was better at it. We have yet to prove that raw triple totals mean anything yet. I'm still don't see why a triple should be chalked up to baserunning skill. Where you hit the ball and how fast you are plays a much much greater part in getting a triple then baserunning skill.
If you match up Ryne and Rickey's career then Ryne for his career averaged 1 more triple per 500 AB's then Rickey. Andre Dawson gets about 2 more triples per 500 AB. That isn't a whole lot of difference. Can you say that Dawson's edge is because of baserunning and not hitting? Can you say that Rickey doesn't have more baserunning triples then Ryne? Can you prove that Andre's edge is because of his skill and not his stadium?
Other great baserunners of the modern era didn't have Rickey's skillset.
If Rickey played in Ty's era he would have many more triples, if Ty played in Rickey's era he would have many less triples.
Willie Wilson and Rickey Henderson are two different types of hitters. Rickey has more in common with the Giambi types then to the Willie Wilson type as far as hitting goes. Rickey had a postage stamp size strikezone and he wouldn't go out of it for nothing. Willie Wilson would swing at anything just to make contact, whereas Rickey would only swing at a ball in his zone. Consequently Willie got the dribblers while Rickey got the homers, a few more doubles, and the walks.
No matter what Rickey does he will never be as fast as Willie Wilson. He can be quicker and I believe he was but he will never equal Willie's speed. Getting to third on a hit is about 95% hit location and speed. Neither is a baserunning skill.
If someone wants to say Willie or Dykstra or Samuel was faster then Rickey you will get no argument out of me. Rickey wasn't an elite speedy guy, but looking at triples doesn't prove or disprove that he had lots or not a lot of baserunning skill.
From an article in the NYT about the value of taking an extra base.
"If we expand our search to 1950, we find a career top five of Rickey Henderson (+147 runs), Tim Raines (+116), Willie Wilson (+116), Luis Aparicio (+87) and Davey Lopes (+81). The worst ever, not surprisingly, is dominated by catchers, with Jorge Posada (-32 runs) and Bob Boone (-31) leading the way"
I wanted to do something to look at the 'hustle aspect' and compare that to the overall run creation issue.
1) I compared Musial's career stats to 3 guys who we all might regard as on the short list of the slowest runners ever: Frank Howard, Ernie Lombardi, and Harmon Killebrew.
My method was to look at the distribution of doubles, triples and homers as a % of total hits.
Musial was 20.0%, 4.9% and 13.1% (total 38.0% extra base hits)
The other 3 were 14.4%, 1.5%, 20.3% (total 36.2% extra base hits)
Using the slower group, what amount of 'extra' doubles and triples did Musial have over what the 'slower' group's distribution?
Answer: +203 doubles, +123 triples.
2) I then looked at the years 1943-44, 46-49 for Musial, and the rest of the Cards.
Musial was 21.0%, 7.7%, 10.7%
Rest was 17.0%, 3.5%, 5.8%
Using the remaining Cards as a group, what amount of 'extra' doubles and triples did Musial have?
Answer: 50 doubles and 54 triples.
This was only a portion of his career. He had 23.7% more doubles in those years than he would have had he been like the rest of the Cards. He had 122.7% more triples in those years than he would have had he been like the rest of the Cards. So extrapolating to his whole career, we get:
Doubles +139 doubles and +97 triples.
So, overall at best case, Musial hustled out an extra 203 doubles and 123 triples. In other words, he added 326 bases through his baserunning. Those ARE impressive numbers. I can support the idea that Stan was not just a great hitter, but was able to accomplish a lot by taking extra bases when he could.
How does this compare to making it to 2nd 1,080 times and to 3rd 322 times from stealing? It doesn't.
Unless one simply decides that stealing bases is not part of baserunning, then the prolific base stealer always will outperform the hustling, intelligent baserunning that occurs once one hits the ball.
Excluding basestealing from baserunning, is like excluding flyouts from a pitcher's ERA, or assists from a shortstop to second base in range factor. It's an arbitrary decision to evaluate one aspect of a skillset that baseball players have.
From a baseball standpoint, offensive production is benefitted the same from taking an extra base on a single as from taking an extra base on a steal. To say one is 'better' or one doesn't count, is not only contradicted by the facts (run creation formulae for example), but the manner in which teams organize their offensive schemes.
Last edited by drstrangelove; 02-17-2012 at 04:23 PM.
1) 25.6% of his SB were in the first inning. 46.2% were in the first 3 innings. Not sure how that's showing padding. What it shows is he's trying to upset the other team and get his team in the game ASAP. (OP ED.)
2) Of his totals:
33.7% when ahead
37.0% when tied
29.3% when behind.
Don't see a pattern. See below:
3) of the totals:
60% were when the team was within 1 run.
76% were when the team was within 2 runs.
6% were when the teams was ahead or behind by 4 or more runs.
Don't see any evidence of padding. I honestly did not think it was this obvious, but he apparently ran when it was going to help the team catch up or to extend a small lead.
Last edited by drstrangelove; 02-17-2012 at 04:21 PM.