Sox Running Into Trouble?
Hello all four of you. I’m back. I won’t be posting almost daily like I did before. I think I forgot for a moment I have 1.5 jobs, am a father of two small kids and a husband and thought I could blog daily. It didn’t work out. That, and Juan Pierre and the constant fighting between Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen was making me sad. I hate it when mom and dad fight. The Cardinals were also winking at me with free games on TV, only to break the news to me that effective 2011 they’re taking the fun away again. Moving right along…
So I was perusing Baseball Prospectus’ cool baserunning numbers and came across an interesting factoid. The White Sox are second in the league behind Tampa Bay in stolen base opportunities with 138. (Stolen base opportunities: SB + CS + Pickoffs). They’re doing a lot of running, as I’m sure most of you have noticed. This is the year of Ozzieball, after all.
The White Sox have the second most steals of any team in the majors, but are also first in the dubious caught stealing category. So this return to Go-Go Soxdom is costing the team. BP’s stat, Equivalent Stolen Base Runs, has the White Sox 28th in the majors overall with -6.42 runs. EQSBR is defined as –
The number of theoretical runs contributed by a baserunner or baserunners above what would be expected given the number and quality of their baserunning opportunities. EqSBR is based on a multi-year Run Expectancy matrix and considers both stolen base attempts and pick-offs.
KC has cost themselves 10 runs and the Angels have cost themselves 12, so while the Sox are near the bottom in stolen base effectiveness, the basement is a steep drop.
Looking on an individual basis:
NAME SB_OPPS EQSBR Alexei Ramirez 12 -2.75 Alex Rios 34 -0.93 Omar Vizquel 7 -0.85 Gordon Beckham 6 -0.69 Mark Teahen 7 -0.66 A.J. Pierzynski 2 -0.64 Mark Kotsay 3 -0.59 Brent Lillibridge 3 -0.39 Carlos Quentin 2 -0.37 Jayson Nix 0 0 Paul Konerko 0 0 Donny Lucy 1 0.1 Dayan Viciedo 1 0.16 Ramon Castro 1 0.24 Andruw Jones 9 0.47 Juan Pierre 50 0.49
Pierre leads the league in opportunities, and has half a run to show for it. For a frame of reference, the top three are Chris Young, Michael Bourn and Chone Figgins. Young’s been worth 2.75 runs. Bourn and Figgins are +2.5 Rios is 10th overall in opportunities and has cost the club a run, as he’s been caught 10 times. Alexei has been caught stealing 6 times in 12 opportunities. For a player who has pretty good speed, he’s far from fully capitalizing on it.
The general sabermetric rule of thumb when it comes to steals is that teams need to have about a 70% or so to just break even. The team is not even breaking even, so far all the running has just had a negative impact.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to wreak some havoc on the basepaths, but it’s better to pick your spots wisely. So far the Sox haven’t done that.