Did stolen bases really hurt us last season???

If you are a Padre fan I’m sure you are aware of the motto that some of our pitchers live by. “You don’t need to put that much of an emphasis in holding the runners on base. Focus on the batter and get him out and you have nothing to worry about.” In an article posted on the Padres website back in May ’07 ( Notes: Young not bothered by steals ), Chris Young stated that Greg Maddux told him on average only 17% of runners who steal a base will eventually go on to score. When I read that comment I honestly had no clue how accurate that statement was, but then again who am I to argue with a 4 time Cy Young winner with 347 career wins. But as the people kept calling into the radio stations, writing into the newspapers and posting on message boards complaining day after day about stolen bases costing us games, I had to know for sure (it’s not like something such as FACTS would stop most of them from complaining anyways). So I finally buckled down and went through every single box score from 2007 and found all the stolen bases allowed and how many of those runners eventually went on to score. Upon first look the results seemed to differ from what Maddux had stated. But before I get to those let’s check out the X-factor in this situation…..the catcher’s.

Josh Bard —121 SB and threw out 10 runners w/.076 CS% (Career.195)
Michael Barrett — 40 SB and threw out 7 runners w/.149 CS % (Career.226)
Rob Bowen — 23 SB and threw out 3 runners w/.115 CS% (Career.111)
Pete LaForest — 5 SB and threw out 0 runners w/.000 CS% (Career.200)

So with the exception of Bowen all of the catchers were way below their career norms in throwing out runners. Not to mention Bard led all of baseball with 121 stolen bases allowed despite playing in 218 2/3 LESS innings than the 2nd place Jason Kendall (111 SB). I can see 1 or 2 catchers having an off year but not all 4. So I guess that leaves us with the pitchers then right? Let’s take a look at those totals now…..

1st Half—–92 SB—33 EVR—.359
2nd Half—-97 SB—43 EVR—.443
Total——-189 SB—76 EVR—.402
*EVR=Eventual Runs Scored*

So slightly over 40% of all the runners who stole a base against the Padres eventually went on to score this year. That’s quite a difference from the 17% Greg Maddux had told Chris Young. But wait there has to be more to this right? What happens when a guy steals 2nd and then the very next batter hits a home run? That steal becomes unimportant because that runner would have scored regardless of being on 1st, 2nd or 3rd. That’s why I factored in my three base advancement stat. Whether it be a HR, a 3B or a 2B and 1B it doesn’t matter, as long as there were 3 base advancements after the stolen base, then that runner would have scored anyways thus making the stolen base obsolete.

1st Half Stats

2nd Half Stats

So during the 2007 season the San Diego Padres allowed 189 stolen bases. Of those 189 stolen bases, 76 eventually went on to score (EVR). Of those 76 EVR’s 40 of them would have scored anyways (via 3 base advancements). Another wards roughly 19.0% of the runners who stole a base eventually went on to score. Pretty darn close to the statement Maddux made in the begining of the season. Of course my 3 base advancement system does not factor in a speedy runner such as Pierre, Reyes or Furcal scoring from 2nd on a single (which is likely in most cases) so that may have brought the total down to around 17.0% or lower. They had a record of 19-36 in games in which a run was scored after a stolen base and of those 36 loses 12 were 1-run games. And in 7 of those games the runners would have scored anyways giving us a whopping total of 5 games in which the stolen base possibly had a negative effect on the outcome of the game……yes you heard it right 5 out of 163 games the stolen base may have cost us a game. So for all those people who believe that the stolen base can make or break games it really only hurt us in 3% of the games we played last year. But then again those are just stats and facts who would believe those?


6 Responses

  1. […] stolen bases really hurt us last season? […]

  2. Rick,

    a pitcher working with a guy on 2nd base has an entirely different set of circumstances to think about then with a runner on 1st. Double plays, bunt coverages, etc. When the runner is on 2nd base now the thinking is different the runner is in scoring position, the pitcher has to mix up signs with the catcher, depending on outs and game score it is a different factor alltogether.

    I guarantee you sbs with 1 or nobody out hurt a lot worse than 2 outs, how many of those sbs that went on to score potentially could have been doubled off but the following batter hit a homerun? How many of the pitchers would have liked to pitch to the batter with no one on and not worry about putting 2 runners on base and giving in to a hitter who hit a homerun. There are so many factors going through a pitcher and catchers mind with no one on and with people in scoring position that your stats are not accurate no matter what information you throw out there. I know this a runner on first can only score on a homerun or 3B when a runner on 2nd can score on a 1B, 2B, 3B and HR not to mention an error or passedball. A runner on 1st can be doubled up on a ground ball, when a runner on 2nd or 3rd may score easily.

    Plus didn’t we lose the wildcard over 1 game? SO 5 games is pretty important

  3. First of all I’m not understanding what point you are trying to make? But according to that last line it makes it sound like you are for blaming stolen bases on us not making the playoffs. You’re not looking at the overall picture though Dale. When people insist on believing that stolen bases cost us the season a “potential” 5 games is not going to make or break your season. I could go through those 5 games and try to determine what actually cost us those games too……which I may do now since you bring it up. Yeah we lost out by 1 game but if you want to say something cost us the season why not say David Wells cost us the season? He had 6 games where he gave up over 5 runs and pitched horrible. David Wells cost us more games than stolen bases….so blame him. All the point of this post is really to say that not 1 singular thing cost us the season like a lot of people tend to believe.

  4. Maddux made it up. It is not accurate. More than 17% of all baserunners score, much more for those on 2B or 3B

    Have you ever seen this chart? I’ll explain it down below.

    RUNNERS 0 1 2———————————- 0.5165 0.2796 0.10751– 0.8968 0.5487 0.2370-2- 1.1385 0.6911 0.3502
    12- 1.4693 0.9143 0.4433–3 1.5120 0.9795 0.37181-3 1.8228 1.1830 0.4931-23 2.0363 1.4144 0.6073123 2.3109 1.5279 0.7485
    If you have a runner on only 2B the likelyhood is that you will score .35 runs if there are 2 outs, .69 if 1 out and 1.14 if no outs. The numbers go up for man on 2B or 2B and 3B.

    Here is where Maddux gets close to being right. If there is a man on 1B who steals 2B the avg runs scored in the inning goes from .89 to 1.13 a 0.24 increase, with one out the increas is .15 runs with 2 outs it is .12 runs. Average all those out situations and you might come up with 0.17 run increase when giving up a steal of 2B. For stealing 3B it would be .38, .28, and .02 depending on 0,1,or 2 outs. That probably averages out a bit higher. Of course there are also double steals and lead runner only in 1st and 2nd situation stealing or stealing home but these are pretty rare cases.

    There is also a chart at: http://www.tangotiger.net/RE9902score.html that shows the chances of scoring just 1 run (does that particular runner score and how often?). This chart is particularly useful in extra innings where 1 run wins the game. Also I want to note that these charts change from year to year and park to park depending on scoring environment.

    Shining the Light,
    Marty Winn

  5. Hopefully the chart is better formatted here:


    RUNNERS 0 1 2
    0.5165 0.2796 0.1075
    1– 0.8968 0.5487 0.2370
    -2- 1.1385 0.6911 0.3502
    12- 1.4693 0.9143 0.4433
    –3 1.5120 0.9795 0.3718
    1-3 1.8228 1.1830 0.4931
    -23 2.0363 1.4144 0.6073
    123 2.3109 1.5279 0.7485

  6. Hey Marty thanks for the feedback but I think you fail to see the overall picture of this post as well as misunderstood the comments Maddux was making. First of all he says not to worry about the base runners and focus on the batter….which makes perfect sense to me….you get the batter out then there is no way that runner will score whether he is on first, second or third. You can steal 2nd or steal 3rd all you want but stealing home is another thing. And he says “runners who steal a base” not “all runners” like you mention. Second I am a big fan of tangotiger.net (thanks MB) and yes I have seen that chart before. Regardless this is a Padres blog and I did my research on the 2007 Padres (makes sense doesn’t it?) and the stats speak for themselves…..I didn’t make up steals or runs scored or runners thrown out….they actually happened last year. Was it a Mad Dog fluke that the one season he makes those comments it is the one season the results are extremely close? Possibly. It is a very small sample size going off of one season but there was no way I was going to do more than one season because that took me forever….I’m working on this year though as we speak so maybe at the end of the year the results will be much higher and then again maybe not.

    Thanks for reading.

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