Sunday, July 31, 2011

Stolen Bases

I am not, as I have mentioned before, a big fan of the stolen base as an offensive weapon, as I have mentioned from time-to-time. It feels valuable to the observer, but you have to succeed 70% of the time just to break even.

Still, it's rather fun to watch Jacoby Ellsbury climb the all-time list for the Red Sox. He is about to pass Carl Yastrzemski for 3rd place on the Sox all-time list. Ahead are Tris Speaker and Harry Hooper, both from the dead ball era when one needed something closer to a 60% rate to break even.


@nooil4pacifists said...

I trust you're planning on seeing Moneyball when it's released in September.

Michael said...

If the Yawkey Red Sox hadn't been such racists, he would still be chasing Tommy Harper!

Juan Pierre, who has been a SB demon in recent years, has the most CS in the majors this year. He is the poster child for your dislike of the SB.

Justthisguy said...

Ah, but Ty Cobb, my fella Georgia boy, was a real artist at it, in a mean and nasty way. He kept a file in the dugout to sharpen his cleats and was always careful to slide in with one foot at crotch level.

In fact, I believe the last scene in the movie of his life shows him doing so.

WV: insharpe. No kiddin.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Cobb was caught stealing a lot as well. They didn't record that statistic for about half his seasons, so it's hard to know how many. However, it looks like he got caught more than one-third of the time, which means it was only marginally worth it.

I posted on it a few years ago, that there is an illusion of how important it is for those who are watching the game. The stolen base is exciting, fun to watch. And when it succeeds, the guy is still out there, a visible reminder of the advantage. The perception of advantage stays in place much longer than the perception of disadvantage of CS. But when you are caught, you are giving up both an out and a baserunner - and enormous expense in a 3-out inning, where teams only average a baserunner and a half per inning.

We just don't see the expense as clearly, because the guy goes to the dugout and the out just becomes a little light on the scoreboard.

There is an economics lesson about opportunity cost in there as well.

My brother-in-law had his picture taken with Ty Cobb in the 1950's, BTW.