Stolen Bases — Player Analysis
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Stat of the Week
by Peter Liubicich
Stolen Bases — Player Analysis
This post was written by Peter Liubicich on June 28, 2012
Posted Under: Stat of the Week

As we saw on Monday, Mike Trout is certainly making a statement for Rookie of the Year as he currently leads the American League in Batting Average at .344 and by making plays like this while playing centerfield for the Los Angeles Angels.  Other players of note as the month of June comes to a close include Jose Bautista who launched this moon shot over the Green Monster, his 25th of the season and has 13 Home Runs in June.  Finally, the New York Yankees have turned the turbo boost on this month, compiling a 19-5 record so far this month and sweeping 4 of the last 6 teams they have faced.  This has allowed them to take a 5 game lead in the AL East over the Orioles with efforts from the starting rotation which has been spectacular and Robinson Cano who has homered in 7 of his last 10 games.  The Yankees should also be checking their rear view mirror however as the Red Sox have won 10 of their last 12 and having lost both CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte to the DL.

This week we’re looking at Stolen Bases.  Any person with any baseball knowledge will think immediately of Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson when they think of this statistic.  He holds the MLB Career record for Stolen Bases with 1,406 and holds the single season record (in the modern era) with 130 in 1982.  That number seems silly in today’s game especially compared to the MLB steals leaders the last 5 years:

2011 - Michael Bourn, 61

2010 - Juan Pierre, 68

2009 - Jacoby Ellsbury, 70

2008 - Willy Taveras, 68

2007 - Jose Reyes, 78

I also cited Scott Barzilla’s criticism of GMs who became enamored with speedy hitters to hit first in their lineup.  Barzilla wrote that the main priority for a leadoff hitter is not their speed so they can steal bases but On-Base Percentage.  Rickey Henderson’s OBP in 1982 was .398 even though he only batted .267.  This meant that through his 656 Plate Appearances that season, Henderson was on base 261 times.  Going even further, this meant that any time Henderson was on base, there was close to a 50 percent chance he would steal a base.  With his 116 Walks that year, it meant if an opposing pitcher sent Henderson to first with a base on balls, it was more than likely he would be in scoring position during the next at-bat and put huge amounts of pressure on the defense.  I don’t think Barzilla would be against a player like Rickey Henderson batting leadoff, but in his defense he was not pleased at the time with infatuations by front offices with players with speed, most notably Marquis Grissom, without first looking at their OBP.

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Next Post: June 29, 2012