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Why I think SB is underrated

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  • #16
    A few clarifications...

    Scorekeepers point is correct and I may have expressed myself poorly. I meant the total effect on the game et all. For the defense that includes the pitcher, the catcher, the infielders, (to a lesser extent) the outfielders, and even the manager. That means pitch selection,, coverage, positioning, strategy and anything else that might be considered.

    For the offense that might mean whether the batter swings or takes, tries to protect the runner by hitting behind him or tries to go the other way.

    Put as simply as I can...the threat of a stolen base and indeed the effect of a stolen base, changes the dynamic of the game. Can it be qualified? Can it be quantified? Can it be measured? Can it be valued? At some point does it become a tangible thing or must it always remain intangible?

    With regard to Brett's point, once again I think we might be getting a little far afield here. For purposes of our analysis I don't think it matters how the runner reaches second. Any attempt to correlate SLG, OPS+ or any other metric or measure clouds the issue and obscures the original question. We are attempting to determine the value of the stolen base and not compare it to an extra base it or an error or any other scenario.

    That may sound odd but what difference does it make if the batter doubles or if God miracles him to second? What we want to know is how how valuable is our "uber base stealer" while (a) he is on base as a threat to steal. Simple examples can include but are not limited to; does the next batter going to get a fastball instead of a breaking pitch? (b). How valuable is he while attempting to steal? Simple examples can include but are not limited to; an infielder moving to cover and thereby opening a hole for the batter. (c). And finally how valuable is he when he has stolen the base? Simple example can include but is not limited to, ball 1 with a runner in scoring position.

    With all that said, how about a little food for thought; Has anyone ever asked this question and done a simple comparison? Is a person more likely to score if he (a) reaches scoring position on a "batted ball" he, himself has batted or (b) reaches scoring position by stealing a base?

    Jim
    Last edited by Sunny Jim; 05-21-2017, 12:00 AM.
    "Baseball is like church. Many attend, few understand." Leo Durocher

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    • #17
      Guess what anti-analytics people of the world...

      The effect on SB on fielders and pitchers is not an intangible. It is is largely quantifiable and I would be shocked if several haven't already looked into it.
      1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

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      • #18
        Well, the impact depends on many variables. The inning
        and score, who is the runner, who is the batter; even who is the catcher.

        The pitcher's level of concern with the runner stealing all depends on these things, as it will impact everything from not only pitch selection but also rushing to the plate.
        "By common consent, Ruth was the hardest hitter of history; a fine fielder, if not a finished one; an inspired base runner, seeming to do the right thing without thinking. He had the most perfect co-ordination of any human animal I ever knew." - Hugh Fullerton, 1936 (Chicago sports writer, 1893-1930's)

        ROY / ERA+ Title / Cy Young / WS MVP / HR Title / Gold Glove / Comeback POY / BA Title / MVP / All Star / HOF

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Bothrops Atrox View Post
          Guess what anti-analytics people of the world...

          The effect on SB on fielders and pitchers is not an intangible. It is is largely quantifiable and I would be shocked if several haven't already looked into it.
          That is the effect of SB, which actually is going to be in the WPA anyway since the steal value is determined by what happens afterwards. The effect of having a potential base stealer on first is also quantifiable, but not currently in WAR.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by brett View Post
            That is the effect of SB, which actually is going to be in the WPA anyway since the steal value is determined by what happens afterwards. The effect of having a potential base stealer on first is also quantifiable, but not currently in WAR.
            Right - WPA should be able to take care of most of the factors.
            1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

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            The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
            The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

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            • #21
              Originally posted by brett View Post
              That is the effect of SB, which actually is going to be in the WPA anyway since the steal value is determined by what happens afterwards. The effect of having a potential base stealer on first is also quantifiable, but not currently in WAR.
              WPA is determined by the run values in an RE24 table, so the so-called intangible effects of base-stealing are not going to be included. WPA is context-dependent, so e.g., a stolen base with a tie game in the bottom of the ninth is worth more than a stolen base while leading by five runs earlier in the game. But the stolen base has the same run value, .2 (at FG), in either situation. It's just that adding that run value has a greater effect on the outcome of the game in the ninth inning scenario than it does in the earlier situation.

              Run values are usually determined from large amounts of data from past games, which allow one to calculate the average number of runs scored from any particular base-out state. These data are context-independent not only in terms of the WPA-relevant factors--inning and score--but also in terms of the actual player. I.e., the run value of having someone at first with no out is not affected by whether the runner is a threat to steal second or not. As I said before, it might be possible to address this with enough data, but it isn't addressed in the RE24 table, and therefore not in WPA, either.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Stolensingle View Post
                …The one conclusion that is supported by a large body of evidence is that on average most batters most of the time hit the same whether runners are on base or not--this is the rationale for making the value of hits context-independent….
                Could you please point out some of that large body of evidence? I did a quick search and found this. http://www.fangraphs.com/plus/how-mu...rove-a-hitter/

                That article sure SEEMS to show there is a significant improvement for hitters with runners on base. But I suspect that hitter performance improvement is because pitcher performance decreases.
                The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.

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                • #23
                  A good question might be whether singles and walks are worth more for base stealers (independent of their hitting numbers or spot in the lineup). In that case, the. Alien is already there, but showing up in following batter's stats and we would have to dock them.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by scorekeeper View Post
                    Could you please point out some of that large body of evidence? I did a quick search and found this. http://www.fangraphs.com/plus/how-mu...rove-a-hitter/

                    That article sure SEEMS to show there is a significant improvement for hitters with runners on base. But I suspect that hitter performance improvement is because pitcher performance decreases.
                    All right, this is a good point that you bring up. But note that:

                    a) Most of the difference in OPS—the metric used to draw the conclusion—is in OBP. There is some increase in BA and SLG, but it’s much less. IOW, batters tend to walk more with runners on base. This isn’t surprising, as there are several base-out situations—runner on second, runners on second and third, even occasionally runner on third, or runners on first and third—in which a pitcher is more willing to walk a hitter, to face a less dangerous hitter or to improve the chances of a DP. I’m talking about what is nominally an unintentional walk, but even intentional walks matter here, because that is an improvement over what statistically a batter would be expected to do if allowed to hit.

                    b) As the author notes, there’s probably a selection bias in these data. I.e., relatively poor pitchers are more likely to have men on base than better pitchers. This is one of the problems I was getting at when I said a thorough exploration of this issue would require an approach somewhat analogous to that used for pitch-framing. The author apparently believes that while this selection bias matters, it wouldn’t entirely remove the effect, but in the absence of a rigorous study, we don’t really know. Another factor, that the author alludes to, is problems with covering bases. I suspect this has a lot to do with the BA increase, and it might be addressed by comparing BABIP in these situations.

                    c) Even taking the stats at face value, they say nothing about base stealers vs. slow baserunners. There may be an improvement in hitting when runners are on base, but as far as the stats cited in this article show, that is independent of the runners’ threat to steal. Indeed, since the numbers aren’t broken down to specific base-out situations, a situation where stealing isn’t even possible may be as good as one where it is.

                    d) Finally, based on the data cited in this article, we can estimate very roughly the maximum amount of runs above average baserunners might add. The article finds an average of 31 points increase in OPS; league average OPS is roughly .700, so that is about 4.5%. How many extra runs is that worth? In the wOBA discussion at FG, it’s noted that a 20 point increase in wOBA is worth about 10 extra runs per 600 PA. League average wOBA is about .320, so a 20 point increase represents about 6%. From these numbers, we might estimate that the OPS increase is worth roughly 7.5 runs per year.

                    However, it’s a little more complicated than that. Situations in which baserunners exist represent a little less than 50% of all base-out situations, so the increase must be cut in about half, to about 3.5 runs per year. Against that, though, the average run value of an OPS increase is greater when we consider just situations where baserunners exist. I don't want to get into the math, but very roughly 40% of the increase of run value for a walk or a hit is due to getting on base and scoring, while the other 60% is due to advancing runners already on base. This means that roughly we increase the extra runs to about 8, or a little less than 1 WAR. This is very roughly what the reported OPS increase would be worth, with no evidence as yet that any of it is due to the threat of base stealing.
                    Last edited by Stolensingle; 05-21-2017, 06:06 PM.

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                    • #25
                      Okay, this is definitely unscientific, but since I originally posted this, I have been listening to every Cincinnati Reds game on the radio as well as attended numerous Nashville Sounds games in person.

                      When Billy Hamilton is on first base in a potential steal position, Zac Cozart and Joey Votto get a lot more fast balls than when he is not on base or not in a potential steal situation. Both seem to hit better (I don't have the actual stats, since I just listen), and the Reds tend to advance him above their regular norm of advancing runners whether or not he steals. There is a bit of a loss of benefit in the fact that once Hamilton reaches second base, Cozart and Votto do not get the same variety of pitches that they get when Hamilton is on first.

                      Now, for the Nashville Sounds, they don't have an uber base stealer, as they are the PCL Bash Brothers this year. They lead or were leading all of MILB in homers. However, there are nights at First Tennessee Park when Dave Kingman couldn't hit a 70 MPH fastball down the middle of the plate more than 300 feet, like last night. The ball wouldn't carry at all, The Sounds pulled off a double steal to get their second run and lead 2-0, and then from then on the New Orleans' pitchers were too concerned with runners on 1st, throwing many pickoff attempts over to the bag.

                      The concern in the bottom of the 9th was that pinch runner Matt McBride would steal second. He threw an easy pitch for Jermaine Curtis to bunt and sacrifice McBride. Then, NO tried to hold McBride closer to second, and Lobstein appeared to be a bit rattled. After giving an IBB to Franklin Barreto, he grooved a fastball to Bruce Maxwell that was clobbered and might have gone out of the park earlier in the day, but the heavy air kept it in. Lobstein was not on his game, because McBride kept increasing his lead at 2nd, and after an error (by Lobstein) loaded the bases, his concentration was shot. He grooved another pitch to Renato Nunez, and Nunez ended the game with a blast to the warning track.

                      I repeat: This is not scientific, but I have seen numerous times where a base-stealing threat distracts a pitcher into being wild across the middle of the plate, rushing his pitch, and waving off the catcher to throw four-seam fastballs. It could be a tad different in the PCL than in MLB, but Hamilton is showing that there is some extra value in worrying a pitcher.

                      I am too old to try to put a math formula to the threat, but I can see it is there.

                      Disclaimer: I am still the career leader in SB at my high school as well as the all-time single season leader, so I am definitely biased. At 5-9 and 160 pounds, and with a home field that was 319-367-422-365-320, there was no sense trying to be a power hitter. Our school won the district and region my 10th-11th-and 12th grade years, and we averaged more than 2 SB per game on a team that probably had about a .300 OBP and .350 SLG.

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