In yesterday's walk-off win over the New York Mets, Martin Prado delivered on a sacrifice fly after a difficult plate appearance, but as Joe Frisaro of MLB.com points out, Dee Gordon almost cost the team the victory with a baserunning mistake.
This might sound surprising for a player who is know for his baserunning, but in actuality, Gordon has been far less effective on the basepaths than one might suspect. On the one hand, he is second in the league in stolen bases among all Major Leaguers, trailing only Cincinnati Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton with 47 stolen bases (compared to Hamilton's 54). On the other hand, there appears to be a large difference in the number of runs produced by that baserunning between the two speed demons.
|Player, 2015 Baserunning Runs||FG||*B-ref||BP|
*Includes baserunning and double play runs
They have such similar steals numbers, how could Gordon be as far behind as he is? Given that Gordon collected somewhere around four to 10 runs above average baserunning, has anything changed this season?
One of the most obvious locations where there is a difference is in terms of caught stealing. Hamilton has only been snagged seven times this year, giving him a success rate of 89 percent. In comparison, Gordon has been caught a league-leading 16 times in steal attempts, giving him a success rate of just 75 percent. The league average success rate is 71 percent, and the difference between the league average runner and Gordon at that rate is only about two runs above average. Compare that to Hamilton, who is 7.5 runs better than average on stolen bases alone.
Gordon's excessive caught stealing rate has hurt his marks, but he did not have a great rate in 2014 either; he was only 2.5 runs better than league average on stolen bases when he lead the majors in thefts last year. The major difference has been in Gordon's ability to move on base hits.
|Gordon, Baserunning||Times on Base||Outs on Base||Extra Bases Taken%|
Gordon has made the same number of outs on base while attempting to advance extra bases, but in 28 fewer chances than he had last season. Note that that does not include his outs on stolen base attempts or pickoff attempts. Gordon has also been picked off more often in slightly fewer stolen base opportunities; he has been snagged eight times (three in caught stealing pickoff moves), while he was only taken off the bases via the pickoff three times last year.
We then see that Gordon has also failed to advance on bases extra like he did last year. The biggest difference appears to be in terms of scoring runs from second base. Gordon was on second 19 times when a single was hit this year and he only came around to score on that hit 11 times off of the hit, a rate of 58 percent. Last year, he scored on 24 of 28 of those same opportunities, an 86 percent rate.
Those failures to advance do add up to significant differences in baserunning value. This latest potential baserunning gaffe was not an isolated incidence. While Gordon has added speed (and it cannot be emphasized enough that he has added overall value to the team), he has not been as good as advertised thus far this year for the Marlins. The Fish will continue to let him have free reign on steals, but they will want better performance on the bases. Gordon's batting line may be due for some regression, and the club will need the baserunning value to compensate for those lost hits.