The original version of this story appeared on my Tumblr blog last week. Since like 8 people read that, Jack said I could post the genius here too. Statistics have been updated for this edition.
If you recall, I made my initial foray into Brewers blogging way back when (er, in late May) with a piece on baserunning. I promised I’d update it later in the season. It’s later. Let’s update it.
UBR, as you will recall, is FanGraphs’ way of measuring the effect of the running game sans stolen base data. RAR stands for “runs above replacement” and 10 RAR is theoretically equal to 1 extra win above replacement, or WAR.
- In May, the Brewers’ UBR was -2.8 RAR. Fifth worst in MLB, third worst in the NL.
- Now, the Brewers’ UBR is -4.9 RAR. That’s sixth worst in MLB, still third worst in the NL.
The running game (again, sans stolen base stuff) has basically treaded water in the depths of majors.
On to stolen bases.
- In May, the Brewers’ stolen base success rate was 80% and worth about 2 RAR.
- Now, the Brewers’ stolen base success rate is 75% and worth about 2.2 RAR.
Adding them together:
- In May, the Brewers’ UBR+SB was -0.8 RAR, a loss of a little less than a tenth of a win.
- Now, the Brewers’ UBR+SB is -2.7 RAR, a little more than a quarter of a loss.
Small ball, right?
As was the case in May, the two people primarily responsible for the team’s poor showing in UBR are Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee. Back then their UBRs were worth -6 RAR, and now they’ve slipped to -9.6 RAR, almost a full win below replacement. Add in McGehee’s two caught stealings (Fielder has not attempted a stolen base this year), and the RAR between those two slips to -10.5, more than a win below replacement.
The good news you can take out of that is the rest of the team has been pretty successful in the baserunning department, with an aggregate UBR+SB of 7.3 RAR. That would be good enough to land in the top five teams in MLB.
As I mentioned, baserunning is not a huge component of value in baseball. Where its marginal difference can matter is in tight races, where one team strongly outperforms the other. It’s unlikely, though possible, that baserunning will tip the balance in the NL Central this year.
- The Cardinals’ UBR+SB is currently -1.6 RAR. It is negative due to a poor stolen base success rate. About a run better than the Brewers, one tenth of a win. They have a 3.9 RAR in UBR alone.
- The Reds’ UBR+SB is currently 7.6 RAR, which is 10.3 RAR better than the Brewers. A full win and then some. The Reds, like the Cardinals, have their UBR dragged down by a poor showing in the stolen base department. They have a 11.6 RAR in UBR alone.
If you’re interested, the Brewers’ team sorted by UBR (called Bsr for some reason) for everyone that has a UBR value:
Two last things I want to point out. When I say “x has 3.4 RAR,” these are all best guesses of value by the people who put the statistic together. It’s impossible to know the true value of these things. This is just the best (public) stuff we have to work with.
Finally, the stolen base RAR calculation I used (.19 runs for a SB, -.46 runs for a CS) is from Tom Tango, but using data from the 1999-2002 seasons. The data may well be different for 2011 baseball, so those run values may be slightly off. A cursory search for that data came up dry for me. I doubt the RAR calculations are way off, but if they are, mea culpa.