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Archived Stat of the Week


Who are the Top Baserunning Teams?

August 12, 2011

One of the more popular sections in the annual Bill James Handbook is the analysis of baserunning. The Baserunning section reports how often teams go first to third, second to home, how often players are thrown out on the bases, among other data.

We evaluate a team’s baserunning prowess in two parts: Baserunning Gain (or loss, if it’s a negative number) and Stolen Base Gain (or loss). Baserunning Gain is the total of all the types of extra baserunning advances minus the (triple) penalty for all the baserunning outs relative to the league average. Stolen Base Gain is the number of stolen bases minus two times the number of caught stealing. Plus numbers are above average and negative numbers are below average.

Once we have a team’s Baserunning Gain and Stolen Base Gain, we add them together and get a team’s Net Gain. Here are the team leaders:

2011 Team Baserunning Leaders
Baserunning Gain Stolen Base Gain Net Gain
Texas Rangers
Philadelphia Phillies
San Diego Padres
New York Mets
Los Angeles Dodgers

The Rangers and Phillies, two of the teams tied for the overall lead, are in first place in their respective division.  Their Net Gains come from a close to 50-50 split between their Baserunning Gain and Stolen Base Gain.  

The other team at the top, the Padres, is actually in last place.  They have an incredibly high Stolen Base Gain and are just above average in Baserunning Gain.

Here are the bottom five teams: 

2011 Team Baserunning Trailers
Baserunning Gain Stolen Base Gain Net Gain
Chicago White Sox
St. Louis Cardinals
Pittsburgh Pirates
Chicago Cubs
Atlanta Braves


The two teams from my home town show up on this chart, the White Sox and Cubs.  While the White Sox are on a roll right now, they still remain a game below .500 and behind the Indians and Tigers in the AL Central. The Cubs?  Second worst record in the National League.  Chicago fans are disappointed; poor baserunning isn’t helping.