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.

34 thoughts on “Quiz – Speed to Burn (solved)

  1. 1
    Dan Mallon says:

    More times CS than Extra base hits

  2. 3
    mosc says:

    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)

    • 5
      Doug says:

      Most stolen bases in a season since 1961 with WAR > 2 x CS.

      Rk Player SB WAR/pos CS Year Age Tm G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG
      1 Mike Trout 49 10.9 5 2012 20 LAA 139 639 129 182 27 8 30 83 67 139 .326 .399 .564
      2 Ichiro Suzuki 45 5.3 2 2006 32 SEA 161 752 110 224 20 9 9 49 49 71 .322 .370 .416
      3 Carlos Beltran 42 6.7 3 2004 27 TOT 159 708 121 160 36 9 38 104 92 101 .267 .367 .548
      4 Amos Otis 33 4.1 2 1970 23 KCR 159 700 91 176 36 9 11 58 68 67 .284 .353 .424
      5 Carlos Beltran 31 6.4 1 2001 24 KCR 155 680 106 189 32 12 24 101 52 120 .306 .362 .514
      6 Brady Anderson 31 2.7 1 1994 30 BAL 111 525 78 119 25 5 12 48 57 75 .263 .356 .419
      7 Matt Holliday 28 5.9 2 2008 28 COL 139 623 107 173 38 2 25 88 74 104 .321 .409 .538
      8 Ian Kinsler 26 4.6 2 2008 26 TEX 121 583 102 165 41 4 18 71 45 67 .319 .375 .517
      9 Curtis Granderson 26 7.6 1 2007 26 DET 158 676 122 185 38 23 23 74 52 141 .302 .361 .552
      10 Carlos Beltran 25 6.9 3 2008 31 NYM 161 706 116 172 40 5 27 112 92 96 .284 .376 .500
      11 Randy Winn 25 4.1 2 2008 34 SFG 155 667 84 183 38 2 10 64 59 88 .306 .363 .426
      12 Rafael Furcal 25 4.9 2 2003 25 ATL 156 734 130 194 35 10 15 61 60 76 .292 .352 .443
      13 Chipper Jones 25 6.9 3 1999 27 ATL 157 701 116 181 41 1 45 110 126 94 .319 .441 .633
      Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
      Generated 3/20/2014.

       
      Only Amos Otis in a season outside the past 20 years.

      • 8
        mosc says:

        Not quite how I meant it. Was saying somebody making outs on the basepaths typically hurts their value. Somebody who’s making such high value with so many basepath outs seems rare. Then again, they wouldn’t get the chance to make so many basepath outs if they weren’t getting on base pretty well on their own.

      • 11
        Doug says:

        So more like this. Most times caught stealing in a 5+ WAR season.

        Rk Player CS WAR/pos Year Tm G PA R H HR RBI BB SB BA OBP SLG
        1 Rickey Henderson 42 6.7 1982 OAK 149 656 119 143 10 51 116 130 .267 .398 .382
        2 Maury Wills 31 5.2 1965 LAD 158 711 92 186 0 33 40 94 .286 .330 .329
        3 Brett Butler 28 5.1 1991 LAD 161 730 112 182 2 38 108 38 .296 .401 .343
        4 Lonnie Smith 26 6.1 1982 STL 156 672 120 182 8 69 64 68 .307 .381 .434
        5 Rickey Henderson 26 8.7 1980 OAK 158 722 111 179 9 53 117 100 .303 .420 .399
        6 Rickey Henderson 22 6.6 1981 OAK 108 493 89 135 6 35 64 56 .319 .408 .437
        7 Rod Carew 22 6.8 1976 MIN 156 687 97 200 9 90 67 49 .331 .395 .463
        8 Bert Campaneris 22 6.7 1968 OAK 159 707 87 177 4 38 50 62 .276 .330 .361
        9 Jose Reyes 21 5.1 2007 NYM 160 765 119 191 12 57 77 78 .280 .354 .421
        10 Cesar Cedeno 21 8.0 1972 HOU 139 625 103 179 22 82 56 55 .320 .385 .537
        11 Vladimir Guerrero 20 7.0 2002 MON 161 709 106 206 39 111 84 40 .336 .417 .593
        12 Brett Butler 20 6.8 1988 SFG 157 679 109 163 6 43 97 43 .287 .393 .398
        13 Ron LeFlore 20 5.3 1976 DET 135 603 93 172 4 39 51 58 .316 .376 .410
        14 Bill North 20 7.0 1973 OAK 146 642 98 158 5 34 78 53 .285 .376 .348
        15 Bobby Tolan 20 5.4 1970 CIN 152 675 112 186 16 80 62 57 .316 .384 .475
        Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
        Generated 3/20/2014.
        • 12
          Michael Sullivan says:

          I can’t figure out how to do it with the play index, but I was thinking something like looking at something like WAR*CS. One of the interesting things about looking at Rickey’s rBase numbers, is that the seasons in which he added the most value on the bases were not his highest steal seasons. 1985 and 1988 were his best, and he stole 80 and 93 bases respectively. But those years, he had few CS, and probably a lot of taking the extra base.

          • 21
            Richard Chester says:

            @12, Michael:
            I don’t know how you are going to interpret this data but using Fangraph data and Excel spreadsheets I generated a list for WAR*CS. It is for qualifying batters from 1901 to 2013. There have been 12139 such batters and CS data is unavailable for 2544 of them, almost all before 1951. Here are the top 10 by name, WAR*CS and year.

            Ty Cobb, 372, 1915
            Babe Ruth, 315, 1923
            Eddie Collins, 249, 1915
            Tris Speaker, 270, 1914
            Eddie Collins, 249, 1914
            Rickey Henderson, 244, 1982
            Tris Speaker, 216, 1916
            Rickey Henderson, 203, 1980
            Ty Cobb, 187, 1916
            Babe Ruth, 186,1920

        • 15
          mosc says:

          The one that jumps out to me there is Brett Butler going 38 and 28 in steal attempts and STILL managing a positive RBASE. Positive everything for that matter.

          Can you imagine if Butler had power? Even a little bit? Historic.

      • 13
        Lawrence Azrin says:

        @5/Doug,

        I know you stated ‘since 1961’, but in 1922 Max Carey stole 51 bases, with just 2 CS, and had a WAR of 5.1, 5th in the NL.

        Hank Aaron just missed your list in 1963, with 31 SB (2nd), 5 CS, and a WAR of 9.1 (2nd). This may be more impressive than anyone on your list except for Trout.

        • 19
          Doug says:

          The AL has kept caught stealing data since 1920 (and intermittently before that) but the NL did so only in 1913, 1915, 1920-25 and since 1951.

          The last players before 1961 (that we know of) with more CS than XBH in a qualifying season were Donie Bush (13/12) and Larry Kopf (14/12) in 1921.

  3. 4
    Brendan Bingham says:

    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.

    • 7
      Doug says:

      In 14 seasons, Wills success rates stealing were:
      – 8 times above 70%
      – 4 times above 75%
      – 2 times above 80%

      By today’s standards, those rates are pretty bad. But, in a low offensive environment, perhaps acceptable based on the notion that if the runner doesn’t get into scoring position, the likelihood of him scoring is fairly remote. Ergo, if he’s thrown out, no real harm done since he wasn’t likely to score if he stayed on first.

    • 10
      Lawrence Azrin says:

      @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 something right.

      • 23
        Brendan Bingham says:

        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 board with the base running strategy.

  4. 6
    Voomo Zanzibar says:

    130 steals and 116 walks equals more than 38 XBH.

    • 9
      Doug says:

      Looking at that 1982 season, seems that Rickey may have been trying too hard to force the issue, especially early.
      – almost one-third of his SB (41 of 130) came in the 1st inning, and more than one-half came in innings 1-3
      – but, his success rate was barely 2 out of 3 in the 1st inning, and barely 70% for innings 1-3 (versus 75% overall)
      – with 2 outs, he was 9 for 12 in steals of 3rd or home. Maybe just an okay play at 75%, but obviously never a good play making the last out stealing when you’re already in scoring position.
      – with 0 outs, he was 11 for 16 in steals of 3rd or home, under 70% success which is awful with nobody out

      • 14
        Michael Sullivan says:

        The second to last bullet here I disagree with. With 2 outs, stealing home at an 80% rate is huge, assuming you only need the one run. You can’t make it home on a sacrifice, so the batter has to get on base for you to score, plus unless the bases are loaded a walk doesn’t score. So you are probably only about 30-35% to score at best (depending on batter, pitcher and defense) if you don’t force the issue.

        Even from second, if you are stealing at an 80% clip from third or home, and will have an opportunity to steal home after getting third, it’s about a 60% play, better than waiting for the batter.

        Now, to the extent that 2 runs is much more important than one run (more than 1 run behind, late innings) it might be inadvisable. But in a tie or one-run game, I would do this every day and twice on sunday if I think he can snag it 80% of the time.

        With zero outs, obviously that’s a terrible play. You’d need close to 100% to justify the play. since you are scoring 90%+ of the time anyway without risking an out.

        • 17
          Doug says:

          Good points about stealing home with two outs.

          For 1982, Rickey’s two out steal results were:
          – 0 for 1 stealing home as only runner on base
          – 7 for 7 stealing 3rd as only runner on base
          – 2 for 4 with runners on 1st and 2nd (probably most or all of those would be Rickey trying to steal 3rd)
          – 8 for 9 with runners on 1st and 3rd (probably most of all of these would be Rickey trying to steal 2nd)

          So, assuming all the 1st and 2nd with two out were with Rickey on 2nd and all the 1st and 3rd were with Rickey on 1st, Henderson was actually only 75% stealing 3rd or home with two out, not over 80% as I mentioned earlier (I’ve corrected it now).

          For his career, Henderson had only one other attempt (successful) stealing home with two out as only runner on base, and was 88 for 100 stealing 3rd with two out as the only runner on base. With runners on 1st and 2nd he was 51 of 56 (so 1982 was very much an anomaly) and 65 of 71 with runners on 1st and 3rd.

          • 30
            mosc says:

            Those sampling sizes are just absurdly crazy. Man, Henderson was a machine!

          • 33
            John Autin says:

            FIWI, I’d guess that Rickey’s 88 for 100 stealing 3rd with 2 outs was a net neutral to his teams.

            Tango’s Run Expectancy Matrix for 1969-92 pegs the 2-out value of a man on 2nd (only) at .325 runs, and .373 for a man on 3rd only. Multiply that net gain of .048 runs per successful SB by Rickey’s 88 successes, that’s +4.22 runs.

            The cost per CS in that situation is -.325 runs. Multiply by 12, that’s -3.90 runs.

            The value of Rickey on 2nd with 2 outs is surely greater than the average runner, since he scored from 2nd on a single in 71% of career chances (and surely more than that with 2 outs). So it’s hard to imagine that those steals gained anything.

            But since they probably didn’t cost anything, either, I’m all for ’em. 🙂

    • 16
      Lawrence Azrin says:

      @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.

      • 18
        Doug says:

        Indeed.

        Rickey was .211/.336/.232 in August and .224/.308/.397 in Sep/Oct. But still running hard, Despite having just 20 hits and 18 walks in August, Henderson still attempted 32 steals and was successful 24 times, right on his season success rate.

      • 22
        Lawrence Azrin says:

        @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%

        HOWEVER – two of the hits were triples, and I don’t expect him to try to expect home – so the practical ratio was:
        28 stolen base attempts vs. 32 times reached base (that he would attempt to steal), a ratio of 87.5% (Rickey had no 3Bs or HRs)

        I can’t imagine any full-time player topping that in a month…

        • 25
          Doug says:

          27 of those 40 times reaching base were with the bases empty. Of the remainder, there were only 4 times that the base ahead of Henderson was open (twice it was 2nd base, and twice 3rd base) after he got on. So he actually attempted to steal *more* than every time he got on and had a free base ahead of him.

        • 26
          Richard Chester says:

          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 a hit. Also 32/40 = 80%.

          • 34
            Lawrence Azrin says:

            @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) = 46.7%

            I subtracted triples, since you can’t expect a base runner on third to try to steal home (well, maybe Cobb sometimes…)

            Coleman’s 1986 is (121 SBA)/(209 TOB) = 60.2&
            (I subtracted his 8 triples from TOB)

      • 24
        Voomo Zanzibar says:

        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 than Rbaser gives him credit for.

        • 27
          John Autin says:

          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. (Specifically, 150-400 PAs batting 2nd.) There were 35 such guys last year:
          — When batting 2nd: .267 BA, .732 OPS.
          — Not batting 2nd: .271 BA, .733 OPS.

          (2) All #2 hitters in 2013:
          — Bases empty: .263 BA, .725 OPS.
          — Any runners on: .266 BA, .710 OPS.

          On the other hand … I ran that second split for 1987, which had the highest rate of SB/G in the live-ball era:
          — Batting 2nd with bases empty: .272 BA, .748 OPS
          — Batting 2nd with any runners: .288 BA, .775 OPS

          So, I’m not ready to draw any conclusions. But neither am I ready to give much weight to the Scooter’s view. He was a leadoff man, after all. 🙂

          • 28
            John Autin says:

            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).

            So it’s very hard to isolate the benefits of hitting with a base-thief aboard from those of hitting with anyone aboard.

          • 29
            John Autin says:

            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 all LHBs in 1980-84, regardless of batting order position. Here’s 1980 alone:
            — Bases empty: .267 BA, .390 SLG, .721 OPS.
            — 1st occupied and 2nd base open: .305 BA, .438 SLG, .788 OPS.

            The most stationary team in 1980 was the Twins, with no player trying more than 17. And their LHBs also had a healthy lift with the first baseman holding:
            — Bases empty: .246 BA, .361 SLG, .659 OPS.
            — 1st occupied and 2nd base open: .279 BA, .386 SLG, .716 OPS.

            So it remains hard to separate the serious threat of a SB from the simple fact of a first baseman holding, in terms of batter’s benefit.

          • 31
            mosc says:

            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.

          • 32
            John Autin says:

            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 gain than #2-4 in situations where the first baseman would normally be holding — even though the #5-9’s did not have Rickey being held.

            Make of it what you will.

  5. 20
    Artie Z. says:

    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 CS and 180 XBH in 1709 career games. He just misses the list in 1992, when he had 18 CS and 18 XBH in his 502 PAs. In 1991 he had 21 CS and 11 XBH but, alas, only 460 PAs. His years as a regular brought him closer to breaking even – 1992 was his first qualifying season, and up until that point in time he had 85 CS and 51 XBH.

    The other 9 players with (CS/XBH) greater than 0.6 in 800+ career games are: Omar Moreno, Vince Coleman, Tom Goodwin, Bill North, Maury Wills, John Cangelosi, Miguel Dilone, Dave Nelson (I have no idea who he is), and Al Newman.

    Of the 10 players on the list, only Coleman, Dilone, Nixon, and Goodwin have a SB% better than 75% (Newman is down at 62%, and Wills is 5th on the list with 73.8%)

    Only North, Moreno, Newman, and Goodwin had 10+ Rfield. Cangelosi (2) and Wills (1) are barely positive; the others are negative.

    All were retired by age 35 except for Wills and Nixon (technically Cangelosi played 7 games at age 36). North was probably the best player of the group.

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