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The Twins are Bad At Baserunning - But Does It Matter?


TwerkTwonkTwins

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I know I'm not alone in thinking that the Twins are bad at baserunning this year. It's easy to find that they are terrible at stealing bases, as they rank 30th in both total stolen bases (14) and stolen base percentage (58%).

After watching Nick Gordon turn errantly around first base only to get thrown out on this play, I decided to look up the numbers to see if there was a quantifiable baserunning metric beyond stolen base percentage that would prove my eyes correct.

And boy, did the numbers confirm the eye test. According to FanGraphs, the Twins rank 28th in MLB with a -9.7 BSR (baserunning metric). Only the Washington Nationals (-10.6) and the Detroit Tigers (-12.5) have a lower team BSR. 

The definition of BSR can be found here, but it essentially combines everything that does or doesn't happen on the base paths. These actions can include stolen bases, being caught stealing, grounding into double plays, getting thrown out, taking/not taking an extra base, and more. 

A BSR of zero is league average, and every ten runs is equal to one additional win. The fact that the Twins have a -9.7 BSR as a team indicates that their baserunning has nearly taken off a win from their record. That's beyond awful, according to this chart. 

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Baseball Reference also has another stat called Runs From Baserunning (Rbaser). The Twins rank 29th with -7, matching what FanGraphs is reporting with BSR. Multiple sources have confirmed the Twins have some work to do when it comes to running the bases this year, and that it is impacting their run scoring.

This raises the question: How long has baserunning been a problem, and will it hurt the Twins in the standings? 

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The answer is that the Twins' baserunning metrics have been completely random over the last few years.

Paul Molitor stressed baserunning excellence during his time as a manager, but that didn't reflect well in the standings. The Twins were also awful at baserunning in 2019, but that didn't stop them from recording 103 wins. The 2022 Twins have been absolutely frustrating on the basepaths, but it's not strongly correlated with overall winning percentage. 

I'm not saying you shouldn't pull your hair out when you see an out on the bases. Stolen bases are incredibly fun. But in the long grind of 162 games, there are many other factors that will contribute more heavily to the end result of a team having a successful season. Rocco and his coaching staff are going to keep rocking on instead of running on. 

 

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An interesting article about a stat that appears to have nearly zero impact on wins.

We all know that there are times when baserunning wins or loses a game. Pretty hard to see it in these stats, though.

Odd stuff. Thank you

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Analytics are fun in the way they attempt to quantify everything but life and baseball don't always fit on to those statistical sheets. I'm pro analytics but more pro experience and the result will tell you that a good base runner who can steal a bag does have some impact on a pitcher. A guy who takes the extra bag is important. The ability to score from second base on a single or go first to third adds up over a season but would be difficult to tie down. Kepler, Polanco, and Buxton are good base runners but the Twins do not have them stealing bases for various reasons. Most of the other Twins are not very good at running the bases but their youth may be a factor. Good base running is important but less important than good fielding.

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Base running is very important, maybe not as important as defense but it's the difference in a close game. I get more excited with good base running than a moonblast. Our problem on base running or small baseball is that it's not taught or encouraged in the minors. It'll take a while to get this instilled but sooner we start the better.

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