Go Fee, and the Pursuit of No matter’s Past Perfection

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports activities

When you loved final week’s Buntpalooza, you’re going to like this, as a result of I’m making up new stats once more.

Let’s begin with Rickey Henderson. You in all probability know that in 1982, Rickey set a still-unchallenged single-season report of 130 stolen bases. Which is quite a bit. In fact it’s quite a bit; this was the highest-volume season by the perfect basestealer who ever lived. I simply referred to him as “Rickey,” as a result of he was so nice he can go by his first title on first reference, like “LeBron” or “Tiger” or “Bizarre Al.”

However, I fear that we don’t respect how extraordinarily quite a bit 130 stolen bases is in a single season. A method to have a look at it’s in distance; 172 stolen base makes an attempt (Rickey additionally received caught a league-high 42 occasions that yr), at 90 toes every, constitutes virtually three miles of floor coated. The person ran the perfect a part of a 5K in stolen base makes an attempt alone.

In 1982, Rickey registered 656 plate appearances and 143 hits, together with 10 dwelling runs and 4 triples. Let’s take these away, as a result of you’ll be able to’t steal a base after hitting a house run, and whilst you can theoretically steal a base after hitting a triple, come on, this isn’t the Nineties and also you’re not Sliding Billy Hamilton. That leaves Rickey with 130 stolen bases on 129 hits that might’ve given him an opportunity to steal a base.

Baseball Reference is sort sufficient to depend what number of occasions a participant reaches base in a given season. That is instructive for Rickey, as a result of whereas he hit simply .267 in his record-setting marketing campaign, he led the majors in walks with 116, giving him an OBP of .398. We’re not simply taking a look at hits, briefly. B-Ref has Rickey with 274 occasions on base, together with errors, in 1982. Subtract the 14 dwelling runs and triples and also you’re left with 260 of what I’ll name stolen base alternatives. Which means Rickey was on base 260 occasions and tried to steal virtually two-thirds of the time: 66.1%, to be actual. From right here on, I’ll be referring to this ratio as “Go Fee,” as a result of I couldn’t in good conscience commit any extra time to pondering of a humorous backronym like PECOTA or CORSI.

The weak point in go charge, which I’ll tackle up entrance, is that it doesn’t account for plenty of situations during which a batter-runner may very well be in place to steal, or exclude situations during which he’s blocked. As an example, occasions on base doesn’t embody situations of a batter reaching on a fielder’s selection with the bottom in entrance of him empty. Nor does it debit situations of the batter reaching, solely to search out the bottom in entrance of him occupied. For Rickey, that wasn’t all the time an issue, as Tony Phillips and Davey Lopes spent loads of time on the backside of Oakland’s lineup in 1982, thus inviting a double steal. However ordinarily, you don’t run if the bottom forward already has somebody standing on it.

If, for some motive, you keep in mind my Could article about Esteury Ruiz’s uncommon on-base means and unusually aggressive baserunning, you’ll recall that I went by his plate appearances one-by-one and weeded these circumstances out. For a couple of weeks’ price of 1 participant’s season, that’s possible. However for the 379 place gamers who’d appeared in 50 or extra video games by this weekend, that’s a tall order. Generalities should do for now.

What makes the Rickey Henderson season so ridiculous is the mixture of aggressiveness and quantity of on-base alternatives; the person performed 149 video games, virtually all the time hit leadoff, and was among the many finest on-base guys within the league. However two gamers this season are beating Rickey’s 1982 go charge, albeit in additional restricted alternatives:

The ten Go-est Gamers in Baseball

SB Opp derived from Baseball Reference’s Occasions on Base
Minimal 50 Video games
Via 9/10

Between this and his look atop the bunt leaderboard, Velazquez must be probably the most John McGraw participant within the league proper now. Sixteen stolen base makes an attempt out of twenty-two alternatives is a ridiculous quantity. If there weren’t a pitch clock in place, a pitcher may simply maintain the ball and anticipate Velasquez to get bored and take off for second.

(And since Velazquez solely had 94 plate appearances once I made this chart, I went again and counted manually each time he reached base with the bag in entrance of him unoccupied: Eight walks, seven singles, three fielder’s selections, two doubles, and a strikeout/wild pitch, for 21 complete alternatives. So the stolen base alternatives column won’t be correct right down to the final decimal, however it’ll get us within the proverbial ballpark.)

What I like about Velazquez on this listing is the truth that he isn’t even a very good basestealer or perhaps a runner. He’s completely wonderful in each circumstances — 77th percentile dash velocity and a 13-for-16 success charge that’s only a tick over the league common — however little about Velazquez’s sport means that he needs to be operating the bases like Vince Coleman after three Purple Bulls.

Blanco, the following participant up, makes a bit of extra sense; he’s received a hundredth percentile velocity, which is the great things. That’s some Bobby Witt Jr., Corbin Carroll, Elly De La Cruz motion. In fact this man needs to be operating all over even when 18-for-23 (and 19-for-24 for his profession) isn’t a standout steal charge. Blanco’s place right here brings again reminiscences of the absurd crew velocity the mid-2010s Royals had; Lorenzo Cain was the third-fastest outfielder on the playoff roster. Or the 1980 Royals, who had Frank White and Amos Otis, and likewise Willie Wilson, who stole as many bases as White and Otis put collectively.

On the different terminus of the Johnny Damon Freeway comes the primary high-volume outlier: Ruiz, who’s tried 68 steals out of 131 alternatives, which is an absurd go charge of .519. As we get out of the highest 4, the gaps on the leaderboard begin to relax, and it turns into clear {that a} go charge within the neighborhood of .300 signifies an aggressive basestealer. Simply as in Kansas Metropolis, there’s one thing within the water in Oakland’s outfield: not simply Henderson, however Rajai Davis and Coco Crisp. Even Starling Marte went 25-for-27 on stolen base makes an attempt within the 56 video games he spent in inexperienced.

To not beat the identical lifeless horse about Ruiz, however I’m so joyful he’s doing this. The A’s are on their manner out of city; the crew would possibly lose 110 video games. Ruiz was the massive shiny offseason acquisition in a three-way commerce that delivered All-Stars to a number of Nationwide League contenders; Ruiz, at this level, is form of a poor man’s Marquis Grissom? A destitute man’s Starling Marte, maybe.

Life is like Ozzie Albies hitting right-handed: It’s quick, and it’s brutal. There are two methods you’ll be able to go together with that data. You could possibly hand over and cellphone it in, realizing none of it issues. Or you may resolve that, as a result of none of it issues, you would possibly as properly get your giggles in whilst you can. Why shouldn’t Ruiz run a go charge over .500 in excessive quantity? What’s the worst that may occur? He will get caught? The A’s lose? Please.

In that spirit, let’s discover the gamers who’re dedicated to operating irrespective of the outcomes. These are the six gamers who’re no less than a full run beneath common in BsR and have a below-average SB%, and but are within the prime 100 in go charge:

Possibly Working All of the Time Isn’t Such a Good Thought

SB Opp derived from Baseball Reference’s Occasions on Base
Minimal 50 Video games
Via 9/10

Realmuto’s a bizarre case, as a result of final yr he virtually set the report for many stolen bases in a season with out being caught. (Jon Berti, final season’s main league stolen base chief, very practically made this listing as properly.) Chase Utley holds the report over a full season with 23; Realmuto was 21-for-21 final yr when he received thrown out on his remaining stolen base try of the common season within the Phillies’ a hundred and sixtieth sport of the yr. Trea Turner is at present 26-for-26 in 2023; we’ll get to him in a minute. Conversely, Ke’Bryan Hayes and Henry Davis are having a horrendous time on the basepaths. It’s like all of the stolen base luck in Pennsylvania rolled east.

Then there’s Springer, who at 19-for-24 is a rounding error beneath league common however is definitely having top-of-the-line basestealing years of his profession. The largest distinction in Springer’s sport since shifting to Toronto three years in the past is that he’s truly an honest proportion basestealer now; in seven seasons with the Astros he was 48-for-79, which is mystifyingly unhealthy for a participant as quick as Springer was in his youth. With the Blue Jays, he’s now 37-for-45, which is positively respectable. However as Leo Morgenstern wrote final week, velocity isn’t every little thing on the subject of baserunning.

As you would possibly count on, the highest of the go charge leaderboard options a number of gamers who know what they’re doing. These gamers are within the prime 100 in go charge, with a SB% of 90 or higher and a BsR of 4.0 or higher:

Gamers Who Run a Lot However Must Run Extra

Title BsR Rank Go Fee Rank SB% Rank SB SBatt SB Opp
CJ Abrams 8.9 3 .314 11 93.2 83 41 44 140
Corbin Carroll 12.1 1 .297 13 90.4 91 47 52 175
Taylor Walls 5.7 10 .264 19 95.7 78 22 23 87
Josh Lowe 5.7 9 .250 21 90.3 92 28 31 124
Jarren Duran 5.4 14 .224 24 92.3 90 24 26 116
Bryson Stott 4.8 21 .166 53 93.3 82 28 30 181
Francisco Lindor 5.7 11 .162 58 92.9 84 26 28 173
Trea Turner 5.9 8 .150 67 100.0 1 26 26 173
Christian Yelich 7.1 5 .149 68 90.0 93 27 30 202

SB Opp derived from Baseball Reference’s Occasions on Base
Minimal 50 Video games
Via 9/10

These are the perfect baserunners, and the perfect high-volume basestealers, within the sport. And what? Just a few of them may stand to be a bit of extra aggressive on the basepaths. Turner particularly. Clearly what he’s doing is spectacular, doubtlessly even record-setting. Utley is probably the most environment friendly basestealer of all time, and being extra good than him is not any small feat. Greater than that, Turner is in a lineup with numerous guys who can drive you in from any base, so possibly he needs to be a bit of extra conservative than somebody like Ruiz.

However the quantity I maintain coming again to with Turner is from 2012, his freshman yr at NC State. That season, Turner stole 57 bases in 61 makes an attempt in 63 video games. Even Rickey Henderson could be impressed by that degree of get-up-and-go.

The factor about 26-for-26, and even 30-for-30 if Turner will get there, is that I doubt Turner has chosen to run in the one favorable conditions that introduced themselves. On the danger of drawing a fraught comparability between division rivals, take into account Acuña:

Perfection vs. Journey

Title BsR Go Fee SB% SB SBatt SB Opp OBP
Trea Turner 5.9 .150 100.0 26 26 173 .319
Ronald Acuña Jr. 5.5 .315 84.2 64 76 241 .417

Stats present by 9/10

Right here we now have two of the perfect high-volume basestealers within the league. And since Phillies followers all discovered the identical lesson from Ted Lasso final month and turned Turner into Jimmie Foxx, each Acuña and Turner are each within the midst of particular power-speed combo seasons as properly.

Possibly that is an unfair query to ask, as a result of it’s not possible to separate Acuña’s baserunning from his MVP-worthy marketing campaign on the plate, however I’ll ask anyway: Which of those seasons are you going to recollect 5 or 10 years from now?

From a baserunning perspective solely, Turner is the one on tempo to set a report, and he’s been a barely higher runner total. However Acuña is doing one thing spectacular; he referred to as his shot for 50-50, and whereas he gained’t get there, 40-70 is in play and that’s not a nasty comfort prize.

There’s one thing alluring about how in-your-face Acuña’s season is. (You’ll discover this chart is barely old-fashioned. That’s as a result of Acuña tried to steal twice whereas I used to be writing this text.) He’s forcing the motion greater than all however a handful of baserunners. I believe there’s an artistry to Turner’s (to date) good basestealing season, and no one with half a mind would accuse him of being a boring participant. However I need a participant together with his apparent presents to be as aggressive as attainable.

Stolen bases are extra widespread this season than they’ve been in any yr since 1997. A few of that has to do with the rule modifications, which I supported largely as a result of they may result in exactly this final result. But it surely’s additionally as a result of gamers like Ruiz and Acuña have determined to run like hell. That’s what I would like from this sport: Aggressiveness, risk-taking, forcing the difficulty. Whether or not it’s good or secure or not.

In 1982, Henderson not solely stole extra bases than anybody earlier than or since, he additionally turned the one participant because the stat was recorded to be caught stealing 40 or extra occasions in a season. Among players with 100 or more career attempts, Utley is not any. 1 in SB%. Turner is fourth. Henderson is 51st. Solely considered one of them is the consensus finest basestealer of all time.

Effectivity is nice. Perfection is even higher. However generally perfection leaves you wanting extra.