There’s been a lot of talk lately about baserunning. Many people have been noticing the Indians ability as a team to go from first to third on a single and that they are always aggressive on the basepaths. Believe it or not, I actually keep a statistic that shows how many times the Indians take an extra base in a game. A player gets one extra base for every base they run to past the base value of the hit. This means that a player going first to third, or second to home on a single gets one extra base. If you score from first on a single you get two extra bases. Advancing on anything other than a steal also counts as an extra base as the runner gets to move up a base without being aided by a hit. This includes wild pitches, errors, passed balls, balks or any other reason a runner may move. In this post I’ll be looking at extra bases along with steals, times caught stealing and other times tagged out on the base paths.
First off, there are only three batters who have played for the Tribe this year that haven’t been either tagged out or caught stealing. Those three hitters are Travis Hafner, Jack Hannahan and Shelley Duncan. This should give you a frame of reference and show that avoiding being tagged out is more a function of smart and conservative baserunning than it is of speed. So far through 30 games, only one player has been out on the basepaths more than twice (Asdrubal Cabrera at four times) and only three others have been caught as many as two times (Carlos Santana, Shin-Soo Choo and Michael Brantley). Everyone else has been caught once.
There are only three batters with more than ten extra bases this season. The best of these is Orlando Cabrera with 18, followed by Michael Brantley with 15 and Carlos Santana with 11. When steals are added in, Shin-Soo Choo moves into this list with 15 bases. Choo leads the team with 6 steals, Brantley then follows with 4 and Asdrubal with 2. Combining steals and extrabases Orlando and Brantley tie with 19 each. This also gives Orlando the best ratio of bases gained to tag outs with 19/1. Extra bases and steals are only available to player who get on base (without hitting a home run or triple) so it would make sense that those players would have more extra bases. Brantley has been on base (by single, double, walk, hit by pitch, error or fielder’s choice) more than any other Indian at 50 times this year. Both Cabreras and Choo have been on base more than 40 times each.
Of course, getting an extra bas also depends on the following batter getting a hit that makes taking another base possible. This makes the top of the lineup (Brantley has hit leadoff more than any other hitter) very efficient in this. The worst looking baserunners in the lineup look to be Asdrubal Cabrera. In 42 times on base, Cabrera only has 4 total bases (extra bases and steals) and has been tagged out 4 times. This probably comes from overconfidence on the base paths combined with less than blazing speed. Everyone else has a great correlation between times being safe going for an extra base and times being tagged out. Overall the Indians have been safe 111 times out of 147 (87% of the time) attempts to move up a base.
In games the Indians have won this season, they have averaged 4.14 extra bases and steals per game, in losses, that average is 2.67. While a large part of the discrepancy is probably due to an increased amount of hits in wins (9.43 per game) compared to losses (7.11 per game), good base running can never hurt. This team has proven to be successful running the bases so far this year, and will hopefully keep up this aggressive play, without losing out on efficiency, for the rest of the season.