A Blatant Plug: The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2006

“We have to spend more time with [baserunning] and emphasize it more and make it more prevalent in the front of your brain. Sometimes when you’ve been doing things for so long, you take it that you know how to do these things.” - Dusty Baker (http://www.cubs.com, Oct. 3, 2004)

As we were approaching the deadline for articles for inclusion in The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2006, I was blessed to be able to get a hold of the play-by-play data for the newly minted 2005 season. Because I had assembled the tools this summer in a three-part series of articles you can read here, here and here, I was able to run the numbers for 2005 and see if Baker’s increased focus on base running in spring training last season made any difference.

What I can report, and what you can find in the Annual, (order yours today—you were warned this was a blatant plug), is that Dusty’s Cubs improved to seventh in baseball in 2005 and actually contributed five additional runs with their base running. In 2004 and 2003 the Cubs found themselves ranked 27th (-7.2) and 29th (-11.1) respectively. That swing was worth over one additional win from their 2004 performance and almost two wins over 2003.

You’ll also find in the annual the number of additional runs contributed by each and every player over what would be expected given their opportunities—what I call Incremental Runs (IR).

For the 2005 Cubs those IR values were:

Name                Opp    OA     BRR      IR     IRP
Jerry Hairston       32     0    6.88    2.74     166
Neifi Perez          43     1    8.02    1.41     121
Derrek Lee           59     1    9.79    1.16     113
Michael Barrett      23     1    4.32    0.87     125
Todd Walker          28     0    4.80    0.76     119
Matt Murton           8     0    2.49    0.71     140
Jose Macias          12     0    2.47    0.71     140
Sergio Mitre          1     0    0.72    0.46     275
Corey Patterson      15     1    3.29    0.39     113
Mike Fontenot         3     0    0.63    0.39     256
Greg Maddux           2     0    0.35    0.29     525
Ronny Cedeno         12     0    1.80    0.20     113
Jody Gerut            1     0    0.72    0.11     119
Matt Lawton           9     0    1.42    0.09     107
Carlos Zambrano       8     0    1.37    0.01     101
Scott McClain         2     0    0.05   -0.03      63
Ben Grieve            1     0    0.00   -0.07       0
Henry Blanco          8     0    1.36   -0.11      92
Ryan Theriot          4     0    0.74   -0.16      83
Todd Hollandswo      11     0    1.01   -0.18      85
Glendon Rusch         2     0    0.00   -0.19       0
Jason Dubois         11     0    1.44   -0.20      88
Rich Hill             2     0    0.00   -0.21       0
Nomar Garciapar      15     0    1.07   -0.26      80
Mark Prior            4     0    0.72   -0.37      66
Jeromy Burnitz       61     2    6.97   -0.51      93
Aramis Ramirez       45     2    3.82   -3.03      56

In this table you’ll also see the number of opportunities they had to take extra bases on singles and doubles, the number of times the runner was thrown out advancing (OA), the total number of runs the runner can be attributed given his base running performance in the opportunitues he had (Base Runner Runs or BRR) and his Incremental Run Percentage (IRP) that measures the ratio of IR to BRR so that individuals can be compared regardless of opportunities.

As you can see Jerry Hairston was by far the best base runner the Cubs had, contributing an additional 2.74 runs in his 32 opportunities. His IRP was 166, which ranked him third in baseball for those with 25 or more opportunities behind Ryan Freel (186) and Carlos Beltran (170).

But in looking back at 2004 and 2003, the Cubs also gained by subtraction in the base running arena. In 2004 over two runs were lost because of the corner outfield combination of Sosa and Alou.

Sammy Sosa   -1.89
Moises Alou  -0.52

Alou was a -1.16 in 2005. In addition, Derrek Lee registered a -1.06 in 2004 which didn’t help.

In 2003 the Cubs who “contributed” to the team’s 29th-place rank and who are no longer Cubs included:

Mark Bellhorn   -2.31
Moises Alou     -2.04
Damian Miller   -2.01
Ramon Martinez  -1.87
Eric Karros     -1.86

Of course there are plenty of other reasons you should order the Annual, some of which are:

  • Detailed reviews of how 2005 played out in each of baseball’s six divisions
  • An in-depth look at the minor leagues, college and Japanese ball
  • A breakdown of the postseason and the World Series
  • Detailed team stats and graphs (you know we love graphs)
  • Team-by-team individual hitting and fielding numbers
  • Articles on steroids in baseball, lucky and unlucky teams, and much more!
  • You’ll also find great articles by contributors Rob Neyer, Bill James, John Dewan and Alex Belth. End of blatant promotion.

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