Ichiro's Baserunning
Added 9-10 runs per year on the bases?

John Dewan, in the public area at BJOL, writes

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The Bill James Handbook 2013, which will release on November 1, will include a new section on career baserunning. A baserunning gain is the total of all types of extra baserunning advances minus the penalty for baserunning outs against expectations, including both stolen bases and all other baserunning situations. Among active players with a minimum of 1,000 games played, Ichiro Suzuki leads the way with +371 Net Gain, which is the cumulative total of all gains minus penalties in his career. As a frame of reference, think of it this way: a baserunner gets one "gain point" for each extra base taken, and loses about three "gain points" for each out on the basepaths. With a +371, Suzuki has a lot of extra bases taken despite the occasional out on the bases.

When the Yankees traded for Suzuki, his defensive upgrade over the Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones platoon received the majority of the headlines. However, the Yankees also upgraded on the basepaths. Neither Ibanez nor Jones has a positive career total, and neither has the speed they once had. Suzuki has done little to help his new club offensively, but he can still contribute off the bench as a pinch runner.

Here is the top-five in career baserunning:

Best Career Baserunners
Player Net Gain
Ichiro Suzuki +371
Carl Crawford +347
Jimmy Rollins +335
Juan Pierre +323
Carlos Beltran +309

 

Unsurprisingly, Suzuki, Carl Crawford, and Juan Pierre are second, third, and first in career stolen bases among active players, and Jimmy Rollins is not far behind in sixth.

On the other end of the spectrum, Paul Konerko and Juan Rivera managed to beat out a trio of catchers for the worst career baserunners:

Worst Career Baserunners
Player Net Gain
Paul Konerko -181
Juan Rivera -175
Ramon Hernandez -159
A.J. Pierzynski -155
Yadier Molina -151

 

It has been three years since Rivera had his last solid season, and the Dodgers have spent their way out of needing to give him playing time. Meanwhile, Konerko continues to hit well enough into his late 30s to make up for his poor fielding and baserunning.

Note: Totals are career totals for active players since we began collecting this data in 2002.

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Bases taken while running are usually worth, depending on the situation, +0.25 to maybe +0.30 runs.  Baserunner kills, such as John Jaso has come to specialize in offensively, are usually worth -0.70 to -0.80 runs, depending.  Here is a run expectancy chart and here's one that isolates the gain and loss for you in each situation.

I used to think that SB's were worth 0.30 runs and CS's worth -0.60, based on Pete Palmer's first chart about a thousand years ago.  But come to look at the RE matrix a little closer and you can see why it's better to weight a "baserunner kill" as worth three stolen bases.  For example, leading off the inning with a walk you're at +0.94 expected runs; swipe second, and you're at 1.17 runs, a gain of 0.23 runs.  But get killed at 2B and the run expectancy is down to 0.29 -- you've lost 0.65 runs.  That's an x3 multiplier, not an x2.

So in retrospect, Ichiro's odd conservatism on the bases turns out to be several yards ahead of the curve.  (However, his tendency to let an out go by, before stealing the base, did not help the Mariners.)

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Counting not only SB's and CS's, but also 1st-to-3rd bases, James' and Dewan measure Ichiro as being THE most deadly baserunner of his decade.  And by a long ways.  Carlos Beltran is in the top 5 in the entire game - and Ichiro is 20% ahead of him.  Imagine a player whose AVG was 20% higher than the #5 AVG in the league for a decade - say, .375 vs .313.

At +371 bases in ten years (2002-2011), those 37 net bases are fully one every fourth game - about 9.5 runs per season.  The Fangraphs system credits Ichiro with a piddling 2.1 runs per season for his legs.

What happens if you posit +9.5 yearly runs on the bases instead of +2.1 runs for Ichiro?  His WAR for the decade goes from 53 to 60, moving him ahead of Barry Bonds into #3 in baseball.  While Ichiro was at 60, only fifteen players were over 40 for the decade.  Mike Piazza, Vlad Guerrero and Todd Helton have fewer than 60 WAR for their careers.  Half of Hall of Famers do.

We watched a clinic out there.

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Ichiro had several multi-hit games this week for the Yankees and his NYY line is up to .291/.318/.411 in 47 games, closing in on 1/3 of a season for them.  He is swinging at drastically fewer pitches outside the zone than he was in Seattle, is contacting many fewer of them, and is hitting the ball much harder.  My guess is that he'll stay around .300/.325/.400 for several years now, if he plays for an elite team.

.300/.325/.400 is fine for a leadoff hitter.  However you slice up the UZR, an old Ichiro is still +10 runs defensively over the Nelson Cruzes and Nick Swishers of the RF world.  If he's still getting 5-10 runs on the bases, and is about league average OPS'ively, he's a leadoff hitter who is helping a good team win.  If a GM pencils in that 5-10 runs on the bases, then along with the 10 runs with the glove, Ichiro may project to be the only 40-ish player in the game who could slog along at 3 WAR per season.

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It was not realized, for a long time, what the problems were with UZR.  If Fangraphs' baserunning numbers have issues also, then it could be that Michael Saunders, Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley and Trayvon Robinson are being short-sold for their running production.

Saunders is at 2.2 WAR this year; Seager's at 3.3.  It's possible that Saunders is already a 3-WAR player, Seager a 4-WAR player. 

Comments

1

No, Seager and Saunders probably are already a 4-WAR player and a 3-WAR player, even without baserunning upgrades. WAR uses three-year park effects, which means that they're undercompensating for whatever is happening at Safeco this year. This means that the entire Mariners offense is undervalued by offensive WAR, especially the guys (Seager, Saunders and Montero) getting hit hardest by Safeco.

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Chat: 7/31/15 11:03am
Interests: International Wild News (202399)
    Shouts update every 10 seconds.       
2015-08-02 18:32

Forgot to mention NFL #News of the cap casualty McDaniel suffered from Wagner and Wilson deals. Will see how the rest plays out. The better of the 3 are still with us, but gotta hate the cap casualties

2015-08-02 18:28

Nice to see Marte have a big game. Jumped his avg from 0 to .333

2015-08-02 18:18

gnat, I've been getting kicked off a bunch lately. Usually I have to write up a shout twice because I get booted just before I complete it the first time. Been happening for 3 or 4 days.

2015-08-02 16:21

I think my only complaint about the previous SSI was that it would often be out of date when I would load it up and it was difficult to get the latest. Sometimes logging in would do it other times I would end up going over to Spec's site and clicking through his links of the latest comments and posts. Very frustrating, and unfortunately it seems to be happening here too. I loaded the pages up this morning and the latest post was Lowe's with some shouts from a few days ago. Logging in updated it to Taijuan's post and Moe's Ex-nay shout, hoping thats the latest?

2015-08-02 13:21

Ex-nay on the shutout, huh? Uh....can you say "hanging curve?"

2015-08-02 13:17

Hey, I beat the TV folks with that bit of info by 2.5 minutes! SSI aims to please, ahead of the curve!

2015-08-02 13:13

Interesting: Kuma has never thrown a MLB CG. He's gone 8 2/3 ('14) but never 9. Last year he 3 times threw 8 innings w/ 4 hits, 0 BB's and PC's between 93-96. Right now (after 8), this is his best start ever.

2015-08-02 08:55

Very convenient.. for sure. If the team pitched well they hit bad, if they hut well they pitched bad..and then sometimes pit hing and batting were both well and they threw in some serious errors defensively and #Wild pitches to get other Ls. Amazingly unlucky and unproductive year

2015-08-02 08:27

You're right OBF, #Montgomery pitched well. It's uncanny this year how often the offense scores just enough to lose whether the pitching performs well or badly. When we hit, the pitching fails. When the pitching is good, the offense fails.

2015-08-01 19:39

Now that we are playing for a good draft position... I am not that upset about that loss... It was good to see #Montgomery have a good outing. 2nd and 3rd no outs producing no runs was pretty annoying, but as DaddyO says, very representative...

2015-08-01 19:28

This was truly a representative game of the 2015 #Seattle Mariners.

2015-08-01 19:28

And there you have it.. awful. Wonder when the #News is going tk.come down.. Lloyd out as M's head, I can see it now. Don't wanna put all this on him.. but he has no fire in my eyes and is one foot out the door. Let's get things moving and give some people the axe. End rant.

2015-08-01 19:23

Nothing like another #Wild pitch that can cost us a game. Like a week before break we lost on #Wild pitch.. awful. Not many teams losing on #Wild pitches twice in a months worth of games

2015-08-01 19:21

Nomproblem. It's truly magical.. the stories he tells the calm cool delivery. Never know what you are going to get. Kind of like this game

2015-08-01 17:37

Ah, got it. Thanks for clarifying, Browns. For me it truly was a privilege.

2015-08-01 17:10

Oh daddyo.. I honestly mean it in the best way when I say can put me to.sleep. guy really is remarkable. I can only imagine hearing him then

2015-08-01 14:33

Zobrist with 2 HR's and a 2B today, including a blast off of Mark Low, who gives up 3 in the 8th and gets the loss for #Toronto. KC gets their return on the Zobrist investment in a hurry!

2015-08-01 13:19

Scully now is only a shell of his younger self. You wouldn't have fallen asleep listening to him in the sixties, seventies and eighties.

2015-08-01 13:19

Blue Jays designate Danny #Valencia in a weird move. He's a 3B/COF/1B with a career average of .326-.368-.497 vL! 64 xB's in 586 vL AB's. Munenori #Kawasaki gets the call up? Heck, #Valencia's vL bat is what we hope Montero's is!

2015-08-01 12:38

I don't think anyone will reach the like of Vin Scully.. guy can put me to sleep, but I say thatbwithbthe utmost respect. It's awesome listening to him. I do enjoy Goldsmith

2015-08-01 09:54

I like Goldsmith. I don't know much about him but he sounds like he comes from that Midwest school of baseball announcers, which I like.

2015-08-01 03:45

Aaron Goldsmith is probably my favorite M's media guy along with Joe Simpson ...

2015-08-01 03:45

Way easier to see the pitches ... it's form over function; the angled view provides a nice aesthetic balance to the three players ... somehow the view in #Minnesota looks fairly appealing also. Not sure how they do it

2015-08-01 00:04

I wish the Mariners would also use the straight on CF camera like the Twins feed. So much easier to digest and analyze pitches.

2015-07-31 22:42

"Of course they're relaxed. The season is over"

Yes, I think that's exactly right.
The quote that stuck out in my head most from over the winter was Lloyd's when he was repeatedly asked if he agreed the team would win even more than last year's 87. And he kept saying, "you don't start with 87--you start with zero."
So I give him credit for trying to dampen expectations. But I think the team didn't agree.

Maybe if we had started 8 and 5 rather than 5 and 8 they could have relaxed from the start. But they've been pressing throughout.

2015-07-31 22:25

Clean shaven Ackley 0 for 2 with a couple of groundouts. Not fixed yet.

Reply - IcebreakerX - 8/1/15 5:05am
I would bet the Yanks will probably watch for a few days and then tell him to just focus on hard contact or pulling the ball or some stupid simple thing. Boom, .280/.340/.435. And everyone says, "why do they get better when they leave???".
2015-07-31 21:12

I wonder if the M's can get LoMo through waivers.

2015-07-31 21:06

I like the Blowers-Goldsmith combo.

2015-07-31 20:58

Iwakuma can be QO'd.

Morosi back in Feb:
@jonmorosi: So while Yoenis Cespedes is NOT eligible for a QO, Hisashi Iwakuma is. (Both will be free agents next offseason with 4 years of service.)

Cameron and others have confirmed he can be offered but Ms likely think an extension can be had cheaper.

2015-07-31 19:47

Good day in Seatle. Big W for M's.. Russell signs extension. Chancellor and Wagner being courted... then you got Bennett feeling salty, but hey..these things happen. Overall 12th man and king's court feeling good today.

2015-07-31 19:42

Of course they're relaxed. The season is over

2015-07-31 19:41

So far tonight Flores is 2-3 with a 2B in his Tacoma debut.

2015-07-31 19:41

you are not alone
I blame Happ and Ackley

2015-07-31 19:26

Is it just me, or does this seem like the first time all year they've looked relaxed?

2015-07-31 19:22

To me it looks like Montero has put on a FEW pounds. Glad to see him up and hitting, though.

2015-07-31 18:48

So glad montero production has been in AAA all year.

2015-07-31 18:42

More seriously though... If the hitting sticks, it'll just be more questions for Z. Why'd he leave him down so long? Etc., etc.

2015-07-31 18:32

If Thin Montero saves Jack's GMship... That would suck.

2015-07-31 17:58

Good Taijain is REALLY good.

2015-07-31 17:47

The marte excitement was short lived. He's and terrible as the rest of them.

2015-07-31 17:46

I do have to wonder why, facing a lefty, you give Marte the extra AB over Montero.

2015-07-31 17:25

Thank you icebreaker.. really dunno what it'll take to move these guys along.. they either got some dirt on someone..or are just plain likeable guys..? They surely haven't been staying around based on the product they are putting on the field.

2015-07-31 17:25

Her ya go Matt. http://www.bucsdugou...

2015-07-31 16:59

Without knowing much of anything, I'm looking forward to seeing how marte goes. About time someone hits the ground running.

2015-07-31 16:55

Jack sold about everything that could be sold. But not happy with the fact he's still around. The M's should have fired him and Lloyd after the AZ sweep. Other orgs actually worry about winning instead of hurting people's feelings.

2015-07-31 16:47

Definately excited to see Cano back. Last 11 games he has 5 hr 12 rbi and is batting nearly .400

2015-07-31 16:47

Each time I load this website now, I get an increasingly long list of SQL errors at the top in a pink box. Busch League, guys.

2015-07-31 16:24

For Iwakuma, I'm pretty sure it was a no-arbitration clause in his contract since it was before the QO system. The team can have control for 6 years as well, but that might also have been signed away in the contract to make him a full FA at the end of his contract.

2015-07-31 16:18

Interesting line-up tonight...glad to see Montero back. Hate Marte though...ugh

Dangit...I didn't realize Iwakuma couldn't be nontendered. I hope he will be willing to take a team-friendly deal.

2015-07-31 16:09

Looking forward to the game today. First time in a while

2015-07-31 15:35

It sounds like upper team officials already nixed Iwakuma deal...Espn crushed #Seattle in article as big loser during this trade period. I can see their point with limited return we got, but they also felt we should have traded away Iwakuma..instead of stopping a potential deal. Maybe it woukd have bore more fruit, but I'm glad he's staying..

2015-07-31 15:30

#International contracts come with their own clauses. Iwakuma has to be "non-tendered" at the end of his contract. You can't QO non-tendered players. Unless ownership changes I don't see a scenario where Iwakuma isn't back in #Seattle next year.

2015-07-31 15:23

I am not sure if he is up for qualifying offer or not, but probably doesn't matter as noone ever takes the qo anyway.

2015-07-31 15:11

All this trade talk is making my mouth water :)... better sooner than later.. make it happen

2015-07-31 14:42

Wasn't it reported that the Kuma is ineligible for the QO due to a provision in his contract?

2015-07-31 14:29

Sampson is a sinkerballer...he'll give up singles because he doesn't miss bats enough...nothing special, but the sort of guy you can plug in whenever you need a starter and get something competitive out of it.

2015-07-31 14:21

Sampson is a low HR, low K, mid-high H/9 guy. He's something to throw at the wall. Matt, I'm with you on Marte. He doesn't walk and has no pop....he needs to hit.300.

2015-07-31 14:08

OK...so now we can QO Kuma and #Jackson with confidence...so there's that...and we got an MLB-ready fringe BOR starter...so...there's that too.

2015-07-31 13:50

That's actually a decent pick-up and for low cost.

2015-07-31 13:45

Adrian Sampson

2015-07-31 13:34

Happ out? Wow. They that mad at him for tipping? What'd we get? I don't see anything on MLBTR

2015-07-31 13:22

Happ traded to Pirates. Can't say I blame 'em - playing his way out of QO position lately.

2015-07-31 12:53

Ketel of #Fish doesn't excite me at all.

2015-07-31 12:33

Marte with the call up. Will likely get some CF time. Would have preferred O'Malley.

2015-07-31 12:29

I like the hauls we got for both players we traded...really helps the minor league pitching depth and gives us an Endy Chavez-class fourth outfielder with upside to boot. So...nice work, Jack. Now don't let the door hit you in the tuckus on the way out.

2015-07-31 11:45

With the departures of Ackley and Lowe for prospects it is clear that the M's have given up on this season. Rightly so. But I sure hope some controls are in place to prevent Jack from making moves that are more than minor without serious review. His regime is surely doomed, and if so, one would think it wise to put any significant moves into the hands of a future GM.

2015-07-31 11:19

Brentz and Rasmussen the other two

2015-07-31 11:03

Wells should be in full-season ball next year at age 20. We'll see how he does. Looks like we're in the mode now of throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks.

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