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Reviewing the Rays Baserunnning Game

My original intent was to cover the base running game in the run scoring post last week. Naturally I forgot all about that aspect until the next day. So, let's talk about that now in bullet list form. (Note: all statistics are as of Friday morning.)

  • Despite the ongoing season, the Rays have already stolen more bases (172) this season than last (142). With such an increase in aggression, you have to expect some increase in failure as well, yet the Rays have only been caught stealing an additional three times on last season's total.  Some other comparisons: five more pickoffs, 20 less outs on the bases, and a nearly static percentage of extra bases taken (~40%).
  • By base breakdown of the steals in 2009: second (148 successes, 42 caught) and third (23, 10)  versus 2008: second (113, 38) and third (28, 10).
  • Baseball-Reference describes a stolen base opportunity as a runner on first or second with nobody on the base in front of him. The Rays have 1,934 of them this year (2,301 last) and have attempted 225 steals this year (192 last). That's 11.6% steal attempts versus 8.3% last season. That's right: they've actually been more aggressive in stealing bases and more successful.
  • Four Rays have at least 20 stolen base attempts: Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Jason Bartlett, and Ben Zobrist. Crawford has attempted a steal in 28.3% of his SBO, Bartlett 15.4%, and Zobrist 9.8%; Upton surprisingly has the highest percentage at 29.4%.
  • Meanwhile, Crawford is the master of stealing second (51/60) but struggles on third (5/8) while Upton isn't fantastic at swiping second (25/35) but pretty good moving to third (11/13).
  • Linear weights has the Rays success/caught run difference at 10 runs versus last year's 5.6 runs.