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Articles Tagged Stolen Bases 

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07-05

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Fantasy Freestyle: Let’s Talk About Travis Shaw
by
Eric Roseberry

06-08

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0

Flu-Like Symptoms: The Speed Aristocracy
by
Rob Mains

06-07

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Fantasy Freestyle: I Believe In Andrelton Simmons
by
Eric Roseberry

02-16

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5

The Quinton: Stolen Bases, Scarcity, and Magnitude Effects
by
Jeff Quinton

11-29

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Fantasy Categorical Breakdowns: The Landscape: Stolen Bases
by
George Bissell

05-19

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: New Managers and Stolen Bases
by
J.P. Breen

04-22

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: The Art of the Steal
by
Mike Gianella

12-02

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2

Fantasy Categorical Breakdowns: Stolen Bases: A Deeper Dive
by
Greg Wellemeyer

12-01

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2

Fantasy Categorical Breakdowns: Stolen Bases: Over/Underachievers
by
George Bissell

11-30

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Fantasy Categorical Breakdowns: Stolen Bases: The General Landscape
by
J.P. Breen

10-16

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3

Dynasty Dynamics: Searching for Steals in a Slower Era
by
Ben Carsley and Craig Goldstein

06-15

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2

The Buyer's Guide: Billy Hamilton
by
J.P. Breen

06-05

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2

Rubbing Mud: Hustlin' [to Second Base]
by
Matthew Trueblood

05-29

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2

Fantasy Freestyle: Table-Setting Thieves
by
J.J. Jansons

04-16

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5

Fantasy Freestyle: New Managers and Stolen Bases
by
J.P. Breen

03-27

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7

The Darkhorses: Steals and Saves
by
BP Fantasy Staff

12-10

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Fantasy Freestyle: American League Speed Options on the Cheap
by
Keith Cromer

03-21

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4

The Darkhorses: Stolen Bases
by
BP Fantasy Staff

09-27

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3

Pebble Hunting: The Hypotheses That Require Revisiting
by
Sam Miller

09-19

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1

The Lineup Card: Nine of Our Favorite Base Stealers, Stolen Bases, and Caught Stealings
by
Baseball Prospectus

05-28

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3

BP Unfiltered: The Most Unexpected Steals
by
Ben Lindbergh

04-30

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3

Skewed Left: Explaining Chase Utley's Stolen Base Success
by
Zachary Levine

04-19

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36

Pebble Hunting: The Search for the Missing Steals
by
Sam Miller

04-11

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6

BP Unfiltered: Chris Young Goes Coco
by
R.J. Anderson

03-04

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22

Baseball Therapy: Of Dogs, Men, and Stolen Bases
by
Russell A. Carleton

11-08

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22

Overthinking It: Why Nobody Gets Caught Stealing
by
Ben Lindbergh

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July 5, 2017 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Let’s Talk About Travis Shaw

0

Eric Roseberry

In a breakthrough campaign, Travis Shaw is having one of the top seasons of any third baseman in fantasy. Will he continue to be elite at the hot corner?

Travis Shaw wasn’t considered a hot fantasy commodity prior to this season. He was coming off a disappointing 2016, and owners weren’t quite sure what to expect following his move to Milwaukee. Shaw didn’t appear on Baseball Prospectus’ preseason tiered rankings, and he barely snuck in “The Top 300 for 2017.” However, as we approach the All-Star break, Shaw has been one of the most valuable fantasy assets at his position.

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June 8, 2017 6:00 am

Flu-Like Symptoms: The Speed Aristocracy

0

Rob Mains

Billy Hamilton, Dee Gordon, and the Gini Coefficient.

Last month, I introduced the Gini Coefficient, a statistic better known for measuring income inequality, as a way to measure inequality among home run hitters. The conclusion was that as home runs have become more prevalent, their distribution has become more equal: There is less inequality among home run hitters (measured by the Gini Coefficient for home runs among all batters with 50 or more plate appearances) than ever before, and inequality has steadily declined since the Babe Ruth-dominated 1920s. The record number of home runs in recent years has been the product of more and more batters hitting 20-plus, not a handful of standouts hitting 40, 50, or more.

I thought that was an interesting finding. By and large, there hasn’t been that kind of shift in baseball. Take strikeouts. You probably know that strikeouts have been steadily increasing, pretty much throughout baseball history. Here’s a chart showing the percentage of all strikeouts per season generated by the top strikeout hitters, where “top” is defined as the n players with the most strikeouts, and n equals the number of teams in the league (e.g. the top 16 through 1959 and top 30 since 1998):

I threw in a trendline for you, but you really don’t need it. The percentage of strikeouts generated by the “strikeout elite” has declined, but ever so slightly. It barely counts.

The Gini Coefficient for batter strikeouts concurs. It measures inequality on a scale from 0 (perfect equality) to 1 (perfect inequality). As with my work with home runs, I’m using every player with 50 or more plate appearances in this analysis:

That’s not much of a trend. The distribution of strikeouts has remained pretty constant over the years. And that’s how most metrics worked. Singles? Pretty flat. Doubles? Becoming a little more equal, but at a very slow rate. Walks? Almost no change, year to year. Nothing I found is as dramatic as the increasing equality of home run hitters. Nobody dominates home runs in baseball the way Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Hack Wilson did in the late 1920s.

But I did find one area in which baseball is becoming less egalitarian rather than more: Speed. Of the traditional baseball stats, the two that correlate best to speed are triples and stolen bases. Yes, we have advanced stats, like BRR, but let’s concentrate on those that fans can see at the ballpark or on TV.

Stolen bases are an obvious speed statistic. Last year, Billy Hamilton—we all agree he’s fast, right?—had 58 stolen bases. Billy Butler, arguably the slowest player in baseball, has five ... combined in his 10 major-league seasons. Fast guys steal bases. Slow guys don’t.

Let’s first look at the stolen bases by elite basestealers—again, I’m defining this as the top n basestealers per year, where n is the number of teams in the majors—as a percentage of all stolen bases.

That’s not a straight upward trend, the way the proportion of home runs hit by elite sluggers has been mostly straight down, but the direction is generally upward. Through 1930, the top 16 basestealers accounted for fewer than 30 percent of all stolen bases. The last time that occurred was 1941. That peak, when it topped 40 percent, fell mostly between 1958 and 1973, when stolen bases were in a long-term trough (the only years with fewer than 0.5 stolen bases per team per game were 1930-1972) and a few basestealers (notably Lou Brock, Bert Campaneris, Maury Wills, and Luis Aparicio) were dominant.

The gradual concentration of base stealing among an elite handful of players is reflected in the Gini Coefficient as well.

Stolen bases have always been the province of a handful of players; the low-water Gini Coefficient of 0.64 in 1920 isn’t really all that low. But while recent years are more egalitarian than the 1950s-1960s peak of inequality, the general trend is that stolen bases are becoming more unequal, not less.

Why should that be? Well, stolen bases, unlike most batting outcomes, include a measure of discretion. Batters don’t look into the dugout to see if the manager is flashing the “hit a home run” sign. Hitters don’t think that taking a walk isn’t worth the risk if their team’s trailing by four in the late innings. While some base stealers have a permanent green light, most are sent at the discretion of their coaches.

Yet, despite cries that base stealing is lost art (cries that are not something new), and evidence that teams are not attempting steals as often as they should, stolen base attempts are not out of line with historical averages:

So what’s going on? I think it’s a combination of two factors. First, managers are more aware of run and win expectancies than they were in the past, so they’re less likely to call for a stolen base when they are more likely to result in the loss of a precious out. Here’s a graph of stolen base success rates:

When you’re being judicious in attempting steals, you’re going to concentrate your attempts with your very best base stealers.

The second factor is, again, run and win expectancy tables, but from the point of view of the batter rather than the baserunner. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to send Jonathan Villar when Eric Thames is at the plate, since a dinger will score Villar from first base just as easily as from second base. In a rising run environment, stolen bases are less valuable on the margin—you might as well stay put and wait for someone to drive you in—making their value, again, less appealing for all but the best basestealers.

Triples, though, are another story. Yes, there are situations when a runner doesn’t want to risk stretching a double, but for the most part, triples are the outcome of skill, not choice. And the concentration of triples among the top hitters is indisputable.


Like stolen bases, this was a pretty concentrated distribution in the first place. But it’s become more concentrated as the years have gone by (even though there have been some incongruous leaders).

Inequality in baseball? There’s not much evidence of it when players have bats in their hands. But once they start running, things become much more stratified. Billy Hamilton, Dee Gordon, and Trea Turner (top three in stolen bases, among league leaders in triples) are in the contemporary baserunning one percent.

Thanks to Rob Arthur for Gini Coefficient consultation.

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June 7, 2017 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: I Believe In Andrelton Simmons

0

Eric Roseberry

Andrelton Simmons has been getting results—and showing other signs—that he's having a career season in fantasy.

For years, baseball fans have been in awe of Andrelton Simmons’ defensive ability at shortstop. However, for fantasy purposes, there never were many reasons to pay attention to him given his production at the plate. Hardly anyone came into this season expecting Simmons to be an option for their fantasy roster. Baseball Prospectus didn't even list Simmons on its initial “Fantasy Tiered Rankings: Shortstop,” and he went undrafted in most leagues.

As we sit here in the first week of June, something interesting has been happening with Simmons. He’s been a fringe top-15 shortstop, and he’s slowly raising his fantasy profile. Simmons is providing owners with positive value, if minimal, in every standard fantasy category.

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February 16, 2017 6:00 am

The Quinton: Stolen Bases, Scarcity, and Magnitude Effects

5

Jeff Quinton

Helping you avoid fantasy pitfalls associated with the decrease in steals around the league in recent years.

Stolen bases and stolen base attempts are down over the past 10 years and are so particularly over the past five years. The graph below shows league-wide totals for stolen bases, caught stealing, and stolen base attempts from 2007 to 2016 by year.

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November 29, 2016 6:00 am

Fantasy Categorical Breakdowns: The Landscape: Stolen Bases

0

George Bissell

Are fantasy owners finally running on empty?

While home run totals have experienced a meteoric rise over the past two seasons, stolen bases have followed an inverse trend, especially during the last five years. Here’s an oversimplification: After major-league teams swiped just 2,505 bases in 2015, the lowest single-season total since 1974, they managed just 2,537 thefts league-wide in 2016.

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May 19, 2016 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: New Managers and Stolen Bases

2

J.P. Breen

A look at how the first-year skippers have utilized the running game to this point in the season.

New managers don’t matter too much in terms of fantasy baseball. They won’t magically improve starting rotations or increase their team’s respective power production. The one exception, though, can be on the base paths. In other words, it’s important to ask: Is a manager running more or less than his predecessor did?

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April 22, 2016 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: The Art of the Steal

2

Mike Gianella

Evidence that stolen bases are improperly valued in fantasy circles, and ideas on how to fix a steal-lacking squad via trade.

With the exception of saves, stolen bases are the category most likely to make people moan and groan in fantasy baseball. The value of the stolen base is disproportionate to what it is in real life, which generates a great deal of frustration when it comes to constructing teams in roto leagues. Some go as far to suggest that the solution is to play in a (shudder) points league.

Two common beliefs among fantasy players are that: 1) stolen bases are not all that valuable and 2) stolen bases can found easily on the free agent pool. In this article, I will examine both of these perceptions and see how well they hold up under scrutiny.

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December 2, 2015 6:00 am

Fantasy Categorical Breakdowns: Stolen Bases: A Deeper Dive

2

Greg Wellemeyer

A look at potential under-the-radar speed merchants for 2016.

You know the drill by now. We’re in the middle of our Fantasy Categorical Breakdown series and I’m here to polish off the stolen base category. J.P. Breen covered the league-wide drop in steals on Monday and George stole a couple of my guys gave you standard mixed league over- and under-achievers yesterday. Today we’ll cover deeper league performers. Off we go.

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December 1, 2015 6:00 am

Fantasy Categorical Breakdowns: Stolen Bases: Over/Underachievers

2

George Bissell

The speed demons worthy of a mixed-league investment in 2016.

As the Baseball Prospectus Fantasy Team boldly pushes forward in our Fantasy Categorical Breakdowns series, be sure to catch up with previous installments over the past couple of weeks. J.P. Breen kicked off our stolen-base series with a look at the league-wide decline in thefts, as only seven hitters eclipsed the 30-steal plateau this past season. Tomorrow, noted Mallex Smith enthusiast, Greg Wellemeyer will take a deep dive into the category at the next generation of speedsters that will pilfer our hearts and inhabit our dynasty rosters. Today’s article focuses on the mixed league relevant roadrunners, ranging from the games elites, to five intriguing names to watch, a rebound and regression candidate and finally a breakdown of the specialists capable of infusing your fantasy roster with the speed you covet in 2016.

The Gold Standards (Stolen base kings worth every last dollar in 2016)

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November 30, 2015 6:00 am

Fantasy Categorical Breakdowns: Stolen Bases: The General Landscape

0

J.P. Breen

Why single-category SB studs might be most valuable than you think.

As the BP Fantasy Team boldly pushes forward in our Fantasy Categorical Breakdowns series, be sure to catch up with previous installments over the past couple of weeks. We’re providing a 10,000-foot view of each category—such as this article here—to go with a specific article on 2015 over/underachievers and another one targeted for deeper leagues. This series is tackling two birds with one stone: (1) breaking down individual player performances; and (2) re-calibrating the fantasy discussion by placing roster strategy at the center.

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October 16, 2015 6:00 am

Dynasty Dynamics: Searching for Steals in a Slower Era

3

Ben Carsley and Craig Goldstein

Stolen bases are down across the league, so where can fantasy owners turn to find swipes for their squads?

There were 2,505 stolen bases last season. Sounds like a lot, right?

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June 15, 2015 6:00 am

The Buyer's Guide: Billy Hamilton

2

J.P. Breen

Is there reason to expect any offensive production besides steals from the Reds center fielder?

It’s an old adage in baseball that speed-centric players should keep the ball on the ground to best access the inherent advantage that speed provides a hitter. Plus-plus speed puts extreme pressure on the infield defense to quicken their fielding motions and their internal clocks, forcing miscues and free bases. Moreover, speed-centric players typically lack usable game power, so it’s a better strategy to put the baseball on the ground—either to find a hole or to leg-out an infield single—rather than hit a harmless flyball that completely negates the speed advantage.

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