FanGraphs’ Erik Manning totaled some numbers are spit out the best teams at non-steals baserunning. Data from Baseball-Prospectus’ awesome Equivalent Baserunning Runs stat (thanks, Dan Fox!).
You can check out the rest of the list at the link; I included only teams with more than 10 runs above average. I think this list does not jive well with a lot of people’s opinions on the Marlins’ baserunning. During much of the season, I heard a lot of complaints about the Marlins and their “terrible” baserunning. I had figured they probably were not much worse than average, if at all, but when looking at EqBRR – EqSBR (Equivalent Baserunning Runs minus Equivalent Stolen Base Runs), the team actually performed quite well.
Here were the team leaders in each non-SB category.
Equivalent Ground Advancement Runs (EqGAR): Emilio Bonifacio (1.2 runs, 25 opportunities)
This should come as no surprise. These runs are based on the following situations:
Runner on first only with less than two outs, ground ball or bunt is hit to an infielder where a hit or an error is not credited
Runner on second only with less than two outs, ground ball or bunt is hit to an infielder where a hit or an error is not credited
Runner on third only with less than two outs, ground ball or bunt is hit to an infielder where a hit or an error is not credited
This sounds exactly like where Bonifacio would excel. With Bonifacio’s wheels, he can easily prevent double plays and force throws to first base on grounders with him on first. Any grounder would easily score him from third, as well. What’s next?
Equivalent Air Advancement Runs (EqAAR): Hanley Ramirez (1.7 runs, 45 opps)
This isn’t surprising either. These runs are based on the following situations:
Runner on first with second and third unoccupied, less than two outs, a line drive, pop-up, or fly ball is caught by an outfielder
Runner on second but not third, less than two outs, a line drive, pop-up, or fly ball is caught by an outfielder
Runner on third with other bases optionally occupied, less than two outs, a line drive, pop-up, or fly ball is caught by an outfielder
I was more than happy to see Hanley atop the baserunning lists for the team. While his attempts at aggressive baserunning have dropped on account of injuries and his “role in the lineup,” (which I think is a dumb reason for changing your baserunning approach, but whatever) it seems he is still likely the best baserunner on the team by a good margin.
Equivalent Hit Advancement Runs (EqHAR): Emilio Bonifacio (3.9 runs, 46 opps)
These runs are based on the following situations:
EqHAR considers advancement from first on singles, second on singles, and first on doubles and is adjusted for park and based on a multi-year Run Expectancy Matrix.
This is the patented “Bonifacio’s helmet flies off his head” situation that Tommy Hutton especially enjoys watching. If Bonifacio could get the opportunity to do this all the time, the Marlins would be happy. How often did we see Bonifacio score on a double from first base without a throw even coming close to beating him out. He’s definitely one of the fastest players in the game; it’s a shame he can’t just run to first base to get on.
Equivalent Other Advancement Runs (EqOAR): Dan Uggla (2.6 runs, 295 opps)
These runs are based on the following situations:
Other Advancement takes into consideration a player’s opportunities and advancement on the basepaths due to wild pitches, passed balls, and balks. The run value of this advancement is based on a multi-year run expectancy matrix and park-adjusted.
This may come as some surprise for folks, but Dan Uggla runs very well for a guy of his “stocky” stature. No one else was particularly close in this department, though the difference was only 1.5 runs or thereabouts. Still, this was the biggest contributor to Uggla’s +1.7 baserunning runs in total.
Total non-SB runs: Emilio Bonifacio (4.5 runs, 368 opps)
Bonifacio actually totaled 2.5 runs above average on the basepaths this season, but he lost around two runs just from his poor basestealing and pickoff prevention. You heard a lot about how Bonifacio could be a huge weapon if he just learned how to run the basepaths intelligently; these numbers definitely reflect that. Bonifacio stole 21 out of 30 attempted bags this season, which falls just around the break-even point for basestealing, but he ranked eighth in baseball in pickoffs, having been killed by the pitcher eight times while on the basepaths. That kind of play is simply unacceptable, especially for someone who was only breaking even with his steals.
Bonifacio has the kind of speed that, if he were to play full time and get on base decently often, he could easily pick up ten or so runs above an average baserunner. He’ll have to improve a lot at his stealing to do this, however. If it happens, his running can help mitigate his weak offensive value at the plate, as he’ll never be more than a slightly above average hitter with the skillset he has. One only needs to look at Houston Astros center fielder Michael Bourn to see how it can come out; while Bourn was average with the bat this season, he posted 15 runs above average in baserunning. If Bonifacio could be a bit below average hitting and be a +10 baserunner, it would greatly help his cause.