CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Value Picks: Relievers... (08/18)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Geniu... (08/15)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Geniu... (08/22)
Next Article >>
Premium Article The BP Broadside: Whil... (08/18)

August 18, 2011

Resident Fantasy Genius

Turning 'em Loose

by Derek Carty

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

Unfortunately, readers, Craig Brown and Bill Baer have been forced to step down from their posts at BP Fantasy due to personal issues. They will be missed, and I’d like to wish them the best of luck in the future.

---

On Monday, I conducted a study to determine which managers are the most aggressive in allowing their players to attempt stolen bases. Today, I thought I’d look at how we could have used this data in the preseason to predict which players were due for stolen-base improvements or declines.
 

Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers were the team that spurred me to conduct the study given their much-discussed manager switch this offseason, in which the incredibly passive Ken Macha was let go in favor of Ron Roenicke, who swore to be much more aggressive than his predecessor. As such, it seems only fitting to check out the Brew Crew first.

Having a first-time manager at the helm, we weren’t sure exactly how much more we should expect Brewers players to run, but judging by our first example, it seems the answer was “a ridiculous amount.” Ryan Braun has more than doubled his attempts in 2011, which will likely make him a top-five pick in 2012.

Despite an injury-free 2010, Rickie Weeks has still managed to increase his stolen-base attempt rate this season. This might come as a result of more confidence being more than a year removed from a major injury, but it also probably has something to do with Macha and Roenicke.

Carlos Gomez hasn’t played as much this year as originally expected—the acquisition of Nyjer Morgan and his recent injury saw to that—but he has certainly made the most of the time he’s had. Always a burner, Gomez has posted his highest SBA% this season since his cup of coffee rookie year in 2007.

Coming from a manager who boosts stolen-base attempts by six percent, Yuniesky Betancourt has still doubled his attempt rate from last season. That’s insane. Often an overlooked fantasy commodity, the unspectacular Betancourt does enough of everything to have some value in deep mixed leagues, and was an absolute steal in most NL-only leagues this year. His recent hot streak may prevent it, but it’ll be interesting to see if that kind of value can be had again next year.

Seeing the smallest change of the Brewers’ stolen-base threats, Corey Hart has experienced a tiny boost from the addition of Roenicke. It could have something to do with the oblique injury he suffered at the end of spring training, but he hasn’t really been increasing his attempts as the year has progressed.


Kansas City Royals

The Royals didn’t change managers this offseason, but they did add a former Brewer who has gone wild since his liberation from Macha’s shackles. We always knew Alcides Escobar had speed, and he loved running in the minors, so it’s very nice to see him getting a green light. Fantasy owners who picked up on the Macha bit in the offseason likely found themselves a very good bargain and a cheap source of speed.


Pittsburgh Pirates

Last week, we noted that new Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle was by far the most aggressive manager in baseball, and the Pirates brought him on to replace John Russell, who fell on the other end of the spectrum, suppressing attempts by 26 percent. That makes for an enormous swing, but that doesn’t show up in Andrew McCutchen’s profile. He actually has seen his attempt rate decrease by five percent.

Jose Tabata has at least started stealing more than he did in his rookie year, but it’s not nearly by the gargantuan amount we might have expected from him. There are three possible explanations for what we’re seeing with Tabata and McCutchen:

  1. We’ve reached a point of diminishing returns. That is, once you’re an elite speedster and are attempting a lot of steals, you can only attempt so many more.
  2. Hurdle is new to the Pirates, who have a very reasoned front office (including former BPer Dan Fox), so they may have told him to hold the reigns a little tighter.
  3. Simple random variation

Neil Walker, a far less extreme player in terms of speed, has seen a very large relative increase in his attempt rate. It seems possible that even a passive manager like Russell gave McCutchen and Tabata green lights, so they’re simply doing what they’ve been doing. But guys like Walker, whose stolen-base attempts are more manager-dictated, have seen increases.


Boston Red Sox

Carl Crawford has followed our expectation almost to a tee. There’s a big swing from the aggressive Joe Maddon to the passive Terry Francona, and Crawford has seen a corresponding decline in steal attempts. He went on the DL in June with a mild hamstring strain, but he was only attempting steals in 21 percent of his opportunities before that. Owners counting on a bounceback might be wise to make other arrangements. Of course, his overall steal rate figures to improve once his average and, subsequently, his on-base percentage rises, but he shouldn’t be counted on to take off from first as often as he used to.


Colorado Rockies

No, that’s not a typo. 1352 percent. Ty Wigginton has come out of nowhere to start stealing bases this season, posting his highest total since he stole 12 in his first full season with the Mets in 2003. While Rockies manager Jim Tracy actually depresses steal attempts by 14 percent, Wigginton was coming from a team helmed by the most passive manager in baseball, Buck Showalter, so there was a net 15 percent expected increase. Wigginton has obviously far surpassed that, but that directionality could have been useful. It seems that the relatively more aggressive Tracy saw enough in Wigginton to think he could do a bit of running. It’s worked out well so far, as Wiggy has been successful on seven of eight attempts.   

Related Content:  Managers Of The Year

4 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Value Picks: Relievers... (08/18)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Geniu... (08/15)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Geniu... (08/22)
Next Article >>
Premium Article The BP Broadside: Whil... (08/18)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Don't Forget the Vets
Fantasy Article Fantasy Team Preview: San Francisco Giants
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Pitching at a Premium
Premium Article Skewed Left: Padres Can't Play It Safe
Premium Article Moonshot: In Search of Pedro Cerrano
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Padres Add Myers
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: What the Rays and Nati...

MORE FROM AUGUST 18, 2011
Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Giant Steps... Backw...
Premium Article Future Shock: The Next Freak?
The Lineup Card: 11 Memorable Breakdowns, An...
Premium Article The BP Broadside: While Scioscia Slept
Fantasy Article Value Picks: Relievers for 8-18-11

MORE BY DEREK CARTY
2011-09-01 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: The Fool's Quest
2011-08-25 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Roster Rumble Reper...
2011-08-22 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Is Prospect Potenti...
2011-08-18 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Turning 'em Loose
2011-08-15 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Managing a Need for...
2011-08-11 - The BP Trading Post: Middle-Infield Mayhem
2011-08-08 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Players to Think Ab...
More...

MORE RESIDENT FANTASY GENIUS
2011-09-01 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: The Fool's Quest
2011-08-25 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Roster Rumble Reper...
2011-08-22 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Is Prospect Potenti...
2011-08-18 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Turning 'em Loose
2011-08-15 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Managing a Need for...
2011-08-08 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Players to Think Ab...
2011-08-04 - Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Genius: The Offensive Gambl...
More...