Fantasy Baseball Stats: Analyzing Net Stolen Bases
Picking up stolen bases used to be easy. Just look at the highest SB stat and you had your man.
Active Lifetime Stolen Base Leaders
AUTO-matic: Sign us up. Damon's stolen base efficiency is top notch.
1. Juan Pierre - 468
2. Omar Vizquel - 389
3. Johnny Damon - 375
4. Carl Crawford -369
5. Luis Castillo - 365
6. Bobby Abreu - 351
7. Ichiro Suzuki - 347
8. Jimmy Rollins - 328
9. Luis Polonia - 321
10.Derek Jeter - 308
The New Stolen Base
But, times have changed for the ancient art of the stolen base with the introduction of Net Stolen Bases. And, it’s easy to see why. Those that steal bases more efficiently should be rewarded over those who run wild and get caught much more often. Hence, many fantasy baseball leagues are now using the category of net stolen bases: total stolen bases minus caught stealings.
An ideal example is listed above in our current active top two MLB base stealers. Over their careers, let’s take a look at the top ten base stealers:
1. Pierre 468 - 157 = 311
2. Crawford 369 - 83 = 286
3. Damon 375 - 96 = 279
4. Suzuki 347 - 81 = 266
5. Rollins 328 - 69 = 259
6. Abreu 351 - 113 = 238
7. Vizquel 389 - 157 = 232
8. Castillo 365 - 140 = 225
9. Jeter 308 - 81 = 227
10.Polonia 321 - 145 = 176
Other notables: Reyes (305 – 76 = 229); A-Roid (298 – 70 = 228); Cameron (296 – 82 = 214). All of these guys are in the top 10 in net stolen bases, although not there yet for total stolen bases lifetime.
You will see that Vizquel, # 2 all-time drops to # 7 in the top 10 list when net stolen bases are analyzed. Luis Polonia suffers a similar fate thanks to his less efficient 55% success rate. I suspect the veteran players that do not attempt to steal as much like Vizquel and Polonia are hurt by the fact that a pickoff in official stats is counted as a caught stealing.
The Effectiveness of the Major League Stolen Base
James Click has done a study on the effectiveness of the stolen base in MLB. Click’s study shows that if a player, on average, isn’t able to steal successfully about 73% of the time, the stolen base attempt is not worth it. Think about it; a caught stealing is a double edge sword. Not only do you make an out, but you take a runner off of the base paths! So much for Polonia.
According to Click, a runner on first with none out needs a 73.2% chance of stealing second to make it worthwhile to attempt to steal rather than stay glued to the bag. Remember when your old coach told you not to make the third out at third base. There’s a reason says Click’s research. With two outs in the inning, you need a 92.7% chance of being successful in a steal of third than hoping the guy at the plate will knock you home. (Special note to youth coaches — this doesn’t apply to youth leagues where singles often aren’t deep enough to score a runner from second and passed balls allowing a runner to score from third are more prevelent. I have always contended that up until the high school Varsity level, third base is really scoring position, not second!)
The stolen base is the most over-valued statistic in fantasy baseball when compared to real baseball. Perhaps, the save is a close second, but there is no way that a stolen base total deserves to be recognized the same way as a home run category. Oh well, I guess that’s why most of us aren’t playing real baseball.
Efficient Stolen Base Fantasy Baseball Picks
Want effective base stealers that can help your net stolen bases. Try these guys on for sure footed thievery:
Carlos Beltran - 286 - 38 = 248
Willie Taveras - 195 - 43 = 152
Jacoby Ellsbury - 131 - 23 = 108
Eric Byrnes 129 - 23 = 106
But, that’s over a career and if you are looking for a sure footed thief for 2010, its best to look at the 2009 stolen base leaders.
2009 Stolen Base Leaders
1. Ellsbury 70 - 12 = 58
2. Bourn 61 - 12 = 49
3. Crawford 60 - 16 = 44
4. Figgins 42 - 17 = 25
5. Morgan 42 - 17 = 25
6. BJ Upton 42 - 14 = 28
7. R. Davis 41 -12 = 29
8. Kemp 34 - 8 = 26
9. Andrus 33 - 6 = 27
10.Kinsler 31 - 5 = 26
Looking for modern day efficiency, try these guys for net stolen base value.
Kinsler 31 - 5 = 26
Jeter 30 - 5 = 25
Gardner 26 - 5 = 21
Getz 25 - 2 = 23
Choo 21 - 2 = 19
Werth 20 - 3 = 17
Now, how many of you thought Derek Jeter was as valuable of a stolen base guy in 2009 as Juan Pierre look-alike and play-alike Nyjer Morgan?
If you played with net stolen bases, take the Yankee captain.