FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Baserunning 2006

My column this week ran down the top baserunners in 2006 while critiquing the methodology used by Bill James in the new 2007 Handbook. In short, the system James uses is a good approximation but has some holes that the metrics I've developed address. On the other hand he includes advancing on wild pitches and passed balls, which are also indicators of good baserunners.

The top runner in 2006 was once again Chone Figgins who can be credited with 9.19 runs over what would have been expected given his opportunities. Rookie Hanley Ramirez came in second at 8.89 and I can certainly attest, anecdotally anyway, that Ramirez takes extra bases with abandon. In the three games I saw at Coors Field with the Marlins he impressed me by twice turning singles into doubles (which, incidentally, neither mine nor James system captures as of yet). Figgins also led in 2005 at 8.29 and so I'd give him the nod as best baserunner in the game today. Over the last 5 to 10 years Carlos Beltran takes the title.

On the bottom was Victor Martinez at -5.73 and Javy Lopez at -5.56. However, special mention should be given to Josh Willingham who in terms of EqHAR (advancing on hits) scored a perfect 0 in terms of the rate statistic. In 26 opportunities he was expected to garner 2.61 runs. He actually garnered 0, a feat that is difficult to perform. In 26 opportunities he advanced more than the standard number of bases just 4 times but was thrown out twice when on second as the batter singled thereby perfectly erasing his meager contributions. Willingham was noted by James as being the worst runner, but under my system he comes in 8th with a total of -4.72.

And that brings us to Willy Taveras who placed 7th in my system at 5.92 runs. Joe Sheehan has a take on the trade that brought him to the Rockies along with Taylor Buchholz and Jason Hirsh in exchange for Jason Jennings and Miguel Acensio, calling it "just a great baseball trade". I agree. The Rockies brought some depth to their starting staff although sacrificing a little at the front end while at the same time solving their centerfield dilemna without resorting to Darin Erstad (assuming of course that they don't end up trading Taveras as has been rumored). Taveras still has some upside offensively although he won't be helped as much at altitude as some hitters given that he's a groundball-masher ala Juan Pierre. Where he'll make his mark is defensively and on the bases where he's one of the top defenders in centerfield (made more important by the wide open spaces at Coors) and as noted, an excellent baserunner overall despite a middling stolen base percentage. Hey, he may even coax manager Clint Hurdle to quit bunting so often with his second hitter (35 times in 2006, 16 in the first inning far outpacing the rest of the pack). That would be enough for me.

The key to the deal obviously was Hirsh who projects as a solid 2nd or 3rd starter and has a profile that could work well at Coors. Given that the Rox would have lost Jennings after '07, O'Dowd did very well indeed.

No comments: