Smart Elsewhere #3 – Brett Talley on Exploiting Matchups to Increase Stolen Bases

Take a look at the final standings in one of my leagues last year:

SmartElsewhere3

Note the tie for first place.  And then note the closeness amongst the teams in stolen bases.  Teams finished with 158, 159, 161, 162, 164, and 167.  If the team at 158 could have squeaked out 10 extra steals, they could have conceivably earned five extra points in the standings.

In this edition of Smart Elsewhere, Brett Talley (follow Brett on Twitter), a writer for the Rotographs pages of Fangraphs, takes a look at an approach you can use to try to squeak out 10 extra steals over the course of the year in his article, “Pitchers and Catchers to Exploit, Avoid When Chasing Steals

The article identifies pitchers, with more than 100 IP the last two seasons, that are most/least successfully stolen on (both a measure of frequency of steals and successful steal attempts).  The article then goes on to identify catchers with over 1,000 innings caught the last three years and the highest/lowest caught stealing percentages.

I like the applicability of this in both season-long rotisserie leagues allowing daily transactions and weekly head-to-head rotisserie leagues.  I’m not suggesting it’s necessary to check this list daily and start “streaming” base stealers against pitchers, but I see it as a way to squeak out a few extra steals over the course of the season or in a weekly head-to-head match up.

You can look up 2013 stolen base and caught stealing data by catchers on Fangraphs here or at Baseball Reference here.  And the stolen bases attempted and allowed by pitchers on Fangraphs here or at Baseball Reference here (Baseball Reference has information on stolen bases and caught stealing by pitcher, I can only find stolen bases on Fangraphs).

As an example of how to implement this, let’s say you have a decent base stealer on your team but on a typical day he doesn’t crack your starting line up.  He’s mostly sitting on the bench for depth.  But then you notice he’s got a match up against Edinson Volquez (7 SB allowed in 25 IP) and Nick Hundley (14 SB allowed in 19 G).  You can put your base stealer in the lineup and take out someone facing a difficult opposing pitcher.  Or vice versa, if you have a  stolen base specialist that usually is in the lineup, but is going against Johnny Cueto (whom Talley shows as the hardest pitcher to run in by a long shot), maybe you consider taking him out for the night and putting in a bench player with a game in Coors Field.

Updated tables for the current season, through April 29th, are below.

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Rk Player Tm G Inn SB ▾ CS CS%
1 Roberto Hernandez TBR 5 30.2 7 0 0%
2 Edinson Volquez SDP 5 25.1 7 1 13%
3 Clay Buchholz BOS 5 37.2 6 0 0%
4 A.J. Burnett PIT 6 35.0 6 0 0%
5 Cole Hamels PHI 6 37.2 6 2 25%
6 David Price TBR 6 38.0 6 2 25%
7 Chris Resop OAK 13 11.0 6 0 0%
8 Scott Feldman CHC 4 20.2 5 0 0%
9 Brad Peacock HOU 5 21.1 5 0 0%
10 Julio Teheran ATL 4 23.0 5 0 0%
11 Blake Beavan SEA 6 18.1 4 1 20%
12 Joe Blanton LAA 5 26.2 4 0 0%
13 Edwin Jackson CHC 5 28.1 4 0 0%
14 Tim Lincecum SFG 5 29.2 4 0 0%
15 Zach McAllister CLE 4 23.0 4 0 0%
16 Chris Sale CHW 5 33.0 4 0 0%
17 Evan Scribner OAK 8 12.2 4 0 0%
18 Jamey Wright TBR 10 10.1 4 0 0%
19 Dylan Axelrod CHW 5 27.1 3 3 50%
20 Josh Beckett LAD 5 30.1 3 1 25%
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/29/2013.
Rk Tm G Inn SB ▾ CS CS%
1 Tyler Flowers CHW 20 170.0 16 3 16%
2 J.P. Arencibia TOR 22 191.0 15 2 12%
3 Welington Castillo CHC 19 163.0 14 7 33%
4 Nick Hundley SDP 19 166.1 14 4 22%
5 Chris Iannetta LAA 20 171.1 13 1 7%
6 Jose Molina TBR 19 129.1 13 4 24%
7 Carlos Santana CLE 15 123.1 13 2 13%
8 Alex Avila DET 17 151.2 12 4 25%
9 Jason Castro HOU 20 162.2 12 3 20%
10 John Jaso OAK 16 127.0 11 2 15%
11 Russell Martin PIT 22 178.0 11 6 35%
12 Buster Posey SFG 22 179.2 11 5 31%
13 Jarrod Saltalamacchia BOS 17 144.0 11 0 0%
14 Gerald Laird ATL 8 69.0 10 1 9%
15 Jose Lobaton TBR 13 89.1 10 1 9%
16 Jesus Montero SEA 14 128.1 10 0 0%
17 A.J. Ellis LAD 19 167.2 9 8 47%
18 Salvador Perez KCR 21 174.2 9 3 25%
19 John Buck NYM 22 178.2 8 5 38%
20 Erik Kratz PHI 21 161.1 8 4 33%
21 Yadier Molina STL 23 209.1 8 3 27%
22 Dioner Navarro CHC 6 50.0 8 3 27%
23 Derek Norris OAK 14 104.0 7 0 0%
24 David Ross BOS 9 79.0 7 3 30%
25 Kurt Suzuki WSN 19 159.0 7 2 22%
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/29/2013.

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