Quiz – Speed to Burn (solved)

This quiz identifies the only players with a season since 1961 achieving a particular offensive feat. What is this unusual achievement?

Congratulations to Dan Mallon! He correctly identified that these are the only players having a qualifying season since 1961 with more times caught stealing than extra-base hits, “burning” their own teams with their speed and lack of offensive punch. Those seasons are after the jump.

Rk Player Year CS XBH Age Tm G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Tom Goodwin 1998 20 18 29 TEX 154 608 102 151 13 3 2 33 73 90 38 .290 .378 .338 .716 *8H/D
2 Tom Goodwin 1996 22 19 27 KCR 143 587 80 148 14 4 1 35 39 79 66 .282 .334 .330 .664 *8*7H/D
3 Darren Lewis 1995 18 17 27 TOT 132 527 66 118 13 3 1 24 34 57 32 .250 .311 .297 .607 *8/H
4 Brett Butler 1991 28 20 34 LAD 161 730 112 182 13 5 2 38 108 79 38 .296 .401 .343 .744 *8/H
5 Eric Yelding 1990 25 15 25 HOU 142 559 69 130 9 5 1 28 39 87 64 .254 .305 .297 .602 *86H74/95
6 Gerald Young 1989 25 20 24 HOU 146 620 71 124 17 3 0 38 74 60 34 .233 .326 .276 .602 *8/H
7 Steve Sax 1983 30 28 23 LAD 155 692 94 175 18 5 5 41 58 73 56 .281 .342 .350 .692 *4/H
8 Rickey Henderson 1982 42 38 23 OAK 149 656 119 143 24 4 10 51 116 94 130 .267 .398 .382 .780 *78/HD
9 Bill North 1976 29 27 28 OAK 154 675 91 163 20 5 2 31 73 95 75 .276 .356 .337 .693 *8/D9H
10 Sandy Alomar 1973 10 8 29 CAL 136 519 45 112 7 1 0 28 34 44 25 .238 .288 .257 .545 *46/H
11 Maury Wills 1968 21 18 35 PIT 153 685 76 174 12 6 0 31 45 57 52 .278 .326 .316 .642 *5/6H
12 Maury Wills 1966 24 17 33 LAD 143 643 60 162 14 2 1 39 34 60 38 .273 .314 .308 .622 *6/5H
13 Maury Wills 1965 31 21 32 LAD 158 711 92 186 14 7 0 33 40 64 94 .286 .330 .329 .660 *6/H
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/20/2014.

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34 Comments on "Quiz – Speed to Burn (solved)"

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Dan Mallon
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More times CS than Extra base hits

mosc
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If you correlate caught stealing and WAR, Henderson’s 1982 has to stick out like a sore thumb. Nearly twice Lou Brock’s 1974 masterpiece (which barely misses your list)

Brendan Bingham
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Wills on the list three times! I see from his career record that seven times he led the league in getting caught stealing but only six times in stolen bases.

Lawrence Azrin
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@4/BB, Bill James had a comment about that ages ago – up till the late 50s, for quite a while almost nobody stole bases with any frequency, so catchers weren’t selected for their ability to control that. By the mid-60s they’d adjusted somewhat to handling Wills, but Wills hadn’t adjusted _his_ approach, so his SB% went down. Or maybe no one was paying as much attention to the ‘CS’ column as they should have… Despite the negative comments on Wills, he was in the Top-10 in SB% 8 times, and had 55 career baserunning runs, so he must’ve been doing… Read more »
Brendan Bingham
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I meant no slight to Wills’ value as a player. Leading the league in a negative counting stat (such as batter strike outs or pitcher losses) is often associated with player value. For example, if you came to the plate enough times to lead the league in strike outs, it means your manager did not see fit to take you out of the lineup. Leading the league in caught stealing is evidence that you got on base (a good thing) and evidence of aggressive base running (also a good thing, within reason). Moreover, it shows that the manager is on… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
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130 steals and 116 walks equals more than 38 XBH.

Lawrence Azrin
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@6/VZ,

I know that you can’t put a number on it, but you should also factor in that in attempting to steal 172 times (as Rickey did in ’82), you are going to put a great deal of wear and tear on your body, especially later in the season.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest
@18/Doug, That’s amazing – Henderson was trying to steal literally almost _every_ chance he got. he reached base 40 times (20 H + 18 BB + 2 ROE), and had 32 steal attempts – a 75% attempt ratio!! I wondered if anyone would come close, but since I don’t know how to work the B-R P-I for that, I just looked up Vince Coleman in 1986 (highest ratio of SBA to TOB). The results of June 1986: 28 SBA (25 SB, 3 CS) vs. 34 times reached base (21 H, 11 BB, 1 HBP, 1 ROE), a ratio of 82.3%… Read more »
Richard Chester
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LA: Here’s how to use the PI. Go to Split Finder Player Batting, Find Individual Seasons, Choose a Split Type Months, Select a Month, Sort by SB, Choose a Stat TOB with ROE equal to or greater than 1 and run the report. By visually scanning you can find the highest ratio especially by scanning the TOBwe column. I did it for every month and it looks like that 82.3% is the record. Missing are times the player was forced out, the times when the batter forced someone else out and the times the batter was out trying to stretch… Read more »
Lawrence Azrin
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@26/RC, Wow – vindication! Thanks. Though if I’m Totally Honest here, I must acknowledge that there have never been two players who attempted to steal as frequently as Coleman and Henderson. Coleman got on base considerably less often, so it was easy to make an educated guess. I tried to compare to the top SBA season of the DBE – Ty Cobb/1915. However data is incomplete – no CS on monthly breakdowns, or any ROE at all. So, for the season: COBB: 134 SBAs/330 TOB (208 hits + 118 BB + 10 HBP – 13 3Bs – 3 HRs) =… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
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I have a hard time accepting raw success percentage totals as an end-all of whether a base stealer was valuable in his efforts. When someone who is a constant threat is on base, it puts a pressure on the defense and the pitcher that doesn’t show up in his own numbers. I theorize that the OPS of batters who hit while Rickey was on base was higher than their average. No idea how to search for that. But I probably watched 150 Yankees games a year from 85-89, and me and Phil Rizzuto say that Rickey’s intangible value was higher… Read more »
John Autin
Editor
Voomo, I think you’re counting all the “disruption” benefits for the hitter and not the negatives, like taking pitches to give Rickey a chance to steal. I can’t think of a way to isolate any team’s hitting with a base-thief aboard in a steal opportunity. But consider this: Base thieves are still concentrated in the leadoff spot. (26% of all SB attempts last year were by #1 hitters.) Whatever disruption those guys create should be felt most by the #2 hitters. (1) I looked at the guys who batted #2 some of the time, but not all of the time.… Read more »
John Autin
Editor
Duh … I should’ve just run the #2 splits for Yankees 1985-89: — Batting 2nd with bases empty: .291 BA, .780 OPS. — Batting 2nd with any on and a stealable base open: .299 BA, .795 OPS (counting sac flies as ABs) So, yeah … but it’s generally true that BA and OPS go up even with a slow man on base. The most non-stealing team in live-ball history was the 1957 Senators, with 13 steals all year. From 1954-58, they averaged just 27 SB. With bases empty, they hit .240/.672. With any on, .249/.690 (counting sac flies as ABs).… Read more »
John Autin
Editor
A’s #2 splits for 1980-84 (Rickey’s first term): — Bases empty: .252 BA, .394 SLG, .723 OPS. — Any on with a stealable base open: .290 BA, .440 SLG, .811 OPS. — 1st occupied and 2nd base open: .315 BA, .477 SLG, .848 OPS. That tends to support Voomo’s case. But we don’t know how much of that gain was from the threat of a steal (or specifically a Rickey steal), and how much from having the first baseman holding. Note that 80% of their #2 PAs were by lefty batters. Unfortunately, the Event Finder bombs out seeking splits for… Read more »
mosc
Guest

We also witnessed countless throwing errors from pitchers trying to catch him off first. Ricky would take all the lead he could get away with and needed constant attention. I can remember at least one error from a catcher overshooting his first basemen trying to fire back after the pitch too.

John Autin
Editor
One last split on this topic: For A’s LHBs 1980-84, comparing those batting #2-4 and those batting #5-9. The latter group cannot bat with their #1 hitter on 1st base. Batting #2-4: — Bases empty: .245 BA, .403 SLG, .729 OPS. — 1st occupied and 2nd base open: .295 BA, .453 SLG, .805 OPS. — Net gain: .050 in BA, .076 in OPS. Batting #5-9: — Bases empty: .222 BA, .389 SLG, .618 OPS. — 1st occupied and 2nd base open: .291 BA, .412 SLG, .748 OPS. — Net gain: .069 in BA, .130 in OPS. #5-9 had a larger… Read more »
Artie Z.
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Tom Goodwin had 118 CS and 188 XBH, so a ratio of over 0.6 CS/XBH. There are 10 players who have had (CS/XBH) greater than 0.6 in 800+ career games (with the caveat that CS were not always recorded, so the list doesn’t go all the way back to the beginning of baseball – there might be some deadballers on this list if we had complete CS data for them). But there’s only one player, who does not appear on any of these lists, to have CS greater than XBH for his career in 800+ games. Otis Nixon had 186… Read more »
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