Not Your Father’s Red Sox

Amazing note in the Boston Globe this morning:

With five stolen bases, and just one home run (Kevin Youkilis), the Red Sox now have as many stolen bases as a team (26) as they have home runs.

Even more unbelievable: The Red Sox are tied with the league lead with a +22 stolen base differential and lead in stolen base percentage. Meanwhile, the Sox already lead the league in batting, on-base percentage and total bases. So the Sox are not only reaching base more than anyone else, they’re taking extra bases better than anyone else, as well.

I wonder if that’s ever happened before.

132 comments… add one
  • That is SO AWESOME.
    Thanks for all the stats info, Paul, over the years. It’s really appreciated.

    Devine May 5, 2008, 11:14 am
  • Has Ellsbury been caught stealing yet? I think a full third of the Sox total belongs to him.
    Is there any situation in which one would NOT send him?
    The guy is a run-scoring machine.

    Hudson May 5, 2008, 11:19 am
  • Amazing really. Francona deserves a ton of credit for managing to his roster. But if anything, he’s not running them enough. Ellsbury, Crisp, and even Pedroia are all perfect with 4 SB or more (20 for 20). That tells me they aren’t trying enough if they’re not failing.
    Ellsbury has as many hits as runs scored. That’s also an impressive bit of mojo. Before I said he’d replace Sizemore as everyone’s favorite CF by August. I expect the flood of stories will begin in June.
    For YFs, Melky is looking more and more like next year’s RF. And he’s only 24. I know that alot of fans are still down on him, but he’s usually started slowly. If he’s just getting hot now, he could be looking at 40 HR this year. We could be looking at a young Booby Abreu – not always pretty but productive. And his BB:K are almost equal. If he starts flipping that, we’ll have a legit middle of the order bat. Back on topic: He’s 3 for 3 in SB this year.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 11:36 am
  • For the last two+ years I’ve been one of Melky’s biggest critics, and have never thought that he would amount to much. Unfortunately he’s proving me wrong: the more I watch him the more I think he’ll be good, if not great. I’m unhappy about this.
    Ellsbury is a difference-maker on the basepaths. I can think of two instances where his baserunning has caused the other team to make errors, one of them coming last night against the Rays.
    It’s an exciting time for the Red Sox.

    Atheose May 5, 2008, 11:45 am
  • I never understood the Melky criticism. He’s always been very, very young for the league, had a power hitter’s build, decent plate discipline, and a cannon arm. He always seemed like a fine corner OF to me.
    More amazing to me: He’s a month younger than Ellsbury. Just goes to show how long Melky’s been on the scene.
    There’s nothing to knock in Ellsbury’s game. He’ll be an MVP-caliber player within the next two years.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 11:56 am
  • I like the Abreu-Melky comparison and hadn’t considered it much till now.
    Considering where Abreu’s power numbers have been for the last few years and where they seem destined to stay, Melky only pales in comparison to Abreu when it comes to plate discipline, but then I think there are maybe five guys in the whole league who see more pitches than Abreu (maybe a slight exageration – no time to run stats now).
    Where Melky outshines Abreu most, beyond being a lot younger and having the added bonus of being a switch-hitter, is his fielding. He’ll go up against any wall. All yfs have to now acknwoledge the main knock on Bobby that Phillies fans (over-) complained about: he is scared of his shadow in the outfield.
    Having said that, I like having them both.

    IronHorse (yf) May 5, 2008, 12:06 pm
  • I meant the Melky-Abreu comp more for their young years at the plate, than their games now. For some reason, I just always saw Melky developing his patience and power and then slotting into a corner OF slot. Looking back I can’t see what I was looking at in his numbers because that ain’t there. Still, given his performance most of last year, and now this start, I’m happy I was right, even as I now have no idea why.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 12:17 pm
  • Melky is definitely stronger defensively than Abreu. Abreu’s average-at-best defensively, but won his gold glove because he has a great arm and racks up a lot of outfield assists.
    Like I said, I’m starting to see that I was wrong about Melky. And the fact that he’s young means he has plenty of time to gain the plate discipline that would make him great.

    Atheose May 5, 2008, 12:17 pm
  • All I’m seeing in this thread: Blah blah blah Yankees Blah blah blah. ;-)
    Ellsbury is seven SBs away from Tim Raines’ all-time mark of most SBs to start a career without being caught.
    The Red Sox under Francona have always been very selective about when they run. Since studies show taking a chance on a stolen base is only worthwhile if you can steal at least three quarters of the time, the Sox for a couple years have been among the most effective base stealing teams. This year — with Crisp, Lugo and Ellsbury — the Sox actually have the speed to match the selectivity. So far, it’s a great match.

    Paul SF May 5, 2008, 12:27 pm
  • Yeah, it’s a shame we have to get rid of Crisp because those three together are great on the basepaths.
    We’re practically a National League team: great starting pitching performances, lots of steals, very few homeruns.

    Atheose May 5, 2008, 12:35 pm
  • A YF, Pedroia has no business being aggressive on the basepaths. He doesn’t have good speed, at all – I’d say Youkilis is a faster baserunner. If he can catch the defense napping, that’s fine, but otherwise he should just wait for Ortiz to drive him in. Crisp and Ellsbury both could run more, but I prefer to see them steal fewer bases and not get thrown out than risk making outs by being overly aggressive.
    Melky is making me a believer with his hot start. His super-stardom is by no means guaranteed, but it seems increasingly likely. If the Yankees eventually move him out of CF, who do they put in to replace him? Do they go with Brett Gardner from AAA, or sign another FA?

    Andrew F (Sox Fan) May 5, 2008, 12:38 pm
  • Atheose – Do me a favor and drop Upton, man. It’s not letting me set my lineup for this week because he’s on two rosters (from the mix up)
    Sorry to hijack.

    Brad May 5, 2008, 12:39 pm
  • Also, Ellsbury is awesome. That is all.

    Brad May 5, 2008, 12:42 pm
  • Well, if you want to argue Sox:
    “This year — with Crisp, Lugo and Ellsbury — the Sox actually have the speed to match the selectivity. So far, it’s a great match.”
    My point above was that they’re being overly selective. They should be running much more often – and Ellsbury especially. Would you rather 120 SB and 20 CS, or 60 SB and 0 CS? For the importance of the tie, and with Papi rapidly becoming Giambi before our eyes, the Sox are set up to be a pitching, speed, and defense team for the future. (Until Lars Anderson arrives).
    Back to Yanks: Yes, Gardner is more than ready. And Austin Jackson will be ready next year. Still, they’ll need pop from Melky, Damon, and Matsui if they’re not going to sign any one. All evidence, so far, this year says they’ll be okay. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make a run at Teixeira, though I’d rather they didn’t.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 12:52 pm
  • Papi rapidly becoming Giambi..
    Whoa. Slow down a bit, there. He’s had a bad month, and a sore knee, not three bad years and a rapid depreciation once the juice stopped flowing.

    Brad May 5, 2008, 12:57 pm
  • Completely agree on the Tex deal though. I’ve read that he’s a huge Baltimore mark, but I have him penciled in that Yankee lineup already. Him and CC.

    Brad May 5, 2008, 12:58 pm
  • Do the Yankees offer Abreu another deal if he has/continues to have a big year?

    Brad May 5, 2008, 1:01 pm
  • Even though he plays for the wrong team it’s good to see Ellsbury succeed. I had the chance to meet with the Sox BP pitcher (who is also a HC at a college in MA) and he had nothing but praise for Ellsbury as a person. He said his work ethic is second to none. He said during his hot streak in the playoffs he was in the cages more than any other Sox player. Good for him.
    As for stealing more often there are too many variables to just say they aren’t being aggressive enough. You can’t just steal everytime you get on base. Score, pitchers time to the plate, catchers release time/arm, etc…all play a role in how often you can steal.

    John - YF May 5, 2008, 1:04 pm
  • No, the Yanks are done with Abreu. And he’s not exactly having a great year and didn’t have one last year – not for his $16 million salary any ways.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 1:09 pm
  • “You can’t just steal everytime you get on base. Score, pitchers time to the plate, catchers release time/arm, etc…all play a role in how often you can steal.”
    Unless you’re one of the fastest players in the game. The true power of Ellsbury’s game is that he’s showing fantastic plate discipline, getting on base, and swiping bags. Right now, they’re holding him back.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 1:15 pm
  • You can be Superman, you can’t steal everytime you get on base. Like I said earlier too many variables. Your up 12 in the 7th, do you steal a base? Your down 2 in the bottom of the 9th with Manny up, do you steal a base? So many different things go into the timing of stealing a base, it’s not just PS3 The Show, you are on, you steal…

    John - YF May 5, 2008, 1:19 pm
  • That tells me they aren’t trying enough if they’re not failing.
    This statement is absurd. Since when is not failing enough evidence of not trying enough? If a player is 6-6 from three-point land should he have taken 10 shots from outside the arc? This is silly comment, devoid of any sense of context. If you have specific examples of times the Sox should have run but didn’t, please ante up.

    SF May 5, 2008, 1:23 pm
  • Where did I say this?:
    “you can’t steal everytime you get on base”
    AG – that’s a strawman!
    Ellsbury could steal 120 bases a year (2x his current rate) if they let him. My point is: They should.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 1:25 pm
  • Right now, they’re holding him back.
    Right. Sure. A player who is exceeding all expectations and playing superlative baseball is being held back. Right.
    Let’s go right to the Wikipedia definition, shall we?
    An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial and usually irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, with the intention of baiting other users into an emotional response[1] or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.[2]
    Honestly, tell me why this doesn’t apply right now.

    SF May 5, 2008, 1:27 pm
  • “This is silly comment, devoid of any sense of context.”
    The context is clear, unless you’re trying to argue a meaningless point.
    Paul said: “Ellsbury is seven SBs away from Tim Raines’ all-time mark of most SBs to start a career without being caught.”
    So, for Ellsbury, the sample size is getting into historical territory.
    By contrast, a rhetorical question like: “If a player is 6-6 from three-point land should he have taken 10 shots from outside the arc?”
    is absurd.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 1:30 pm
  • Oh, absolutely SF, the definition applies perfectly…to YOU!
    See, my argument is on topic – Ellsbury and the rate of steals for this year’s Sox.
    By contrast, what was your point?

    A YF May 5, 2008, 1:32 pm
  • A YF: The 6-6 from 3-pt land is a perfect analogy. It’s just as likely that Elsbury has been sent 100% of the time that he should have and has never been caught as it is that he has been sent only 50% of the time that he should have and has never been caught.
    Or put another way, when three people tell you you’re drunk, you should probably lie down.

    IronHorse (yf) May 5, 2008, 1:52 pm
  • You can’t win A YF…don’t even try.

    krueg May 5, 2008, 1:56 pm
  • Except I just won, krueg! That’s the beauty of crickets. I just carved (another) notch on my keyboard. You can too!
    Ironhorse – In probability theory, all you can measure are outcomes. Unless that shooter took only 6 shots in his/her lifetime, then a solitary 6-for-6 is meaningless in judging future outcomes. By contrast, Ellsbury has a 80-85% SB in his career. That he hasn’t hit that very good mark (and as Paul points out, easily matching the break even point for steals), says he hasn’t been run enough. Shoot, let’s see how many steals he can ring up being successful “only” 90% of the time.
    Except I just won, krueg! That’s the beauty of crickets. I just carved (another) notch on my keyboard.
    Ironhorse – In probability theory, all you can measure are outcomes. Unless that shooter took only 6 shots in his/her lifetime, then a solitary 6-for-6 is meaningless in judging future outcomes. By contrast, Ellsbury has a 80-85% SB in his career. That he hasn’t hit that very good mark (and as Paul points out, easily matching the break even point for steals), says he hasn’t been run enough. Shoot, let’s see how many steals he can ring up being successful “only” 90% of the time.
    Anxiously awaiting the next trollish response…

    A YF May 5, 2008, 2:13 pm
  • So good it was worth pasting twice!

    A YF May 5, 2008, 2:15 pm
  • I don’t think Ellsbury or any sox fan is looking for him to set records or try to see if he can/should steal 120 bases (that’s crazy talk). We just know he’s a base stealin’ mofo, and it’s great because he’s smart about it and it helps WIN GAMES.
    And newsflash: silence and/or lack of response does not make you the “winner”. Sometimes it’s just easier to ignore drunk people.

    DUFF - SF May 5, 2008, 2:33 pm
  • Sure, the guy named Duff is talking smack about supposed “drunk” people.
    Ellsbury is a weapon. It’s fine with me if the Sox don’t utilize him to the best of his ability. But the evidence is obvious: He doesn’t have a green light – yet.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 2:37 pm
  • Oh, and on Teixeira, any one else notice that Eric Duncan is finally putting it together – .282/.388/.479 – at The Office? Between the two Duncans they could have a fine 1B in 2009. THe problem with Teixeira is that he’s only a 1B. The Sox have shown it’s nice to have flexibility there, and even better for the Yanks if DH isn’t clogged too with A-Rod, Jeter, and Jorge all likely to spend time at both.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 2:41 pm
  • Make that four people.
    I’ll get you a pillow.

    IronHorse (yf) May 5, 2008, 2:41 pm
  • And back to ad hominem we go…

    A YF May 5, 2008, 2:44 pm
  • Ad Hominem. Now that guy could really steal bases. Except he only got caught 78% of the time instead of the statistically perfect 75%, so clearly they sent him 6.5 times too few over the course of the season.

    IronHorse (yf) May 5, 2008, 2:47 pm
  • In related news, Mariano Rivera has not allowed an earned run this year. Clearly the Yankees should be starting him in every game. As well as using him to provide the bridge…to himself.

    IronHorse (yf) May 5, 2008, 2:49 pm
  • I don’t think the Yankees pass on a guy who is “finally putting it together”, imho. IF you could put five or six Duncans and their talent levels in one body, and you still don’t have a Mark Tex. Not to shat on him at all, but if Tex is there, you take him unless you’re going to put Posada there full time in the the next year. Duncan and Duncan are kinda nice stories, but harldy worth keeping if you can get Tex for basically the same money you’re losing in Giambi. Duncan provides a nice little spark, some humor, and some power. Tex provides all that and more without worrying if the “come together” part is coming apart anytime soon – again.

    Brad May 5, 2008, 2:50 pm
  • Shows how much you know: 75% is the threshold not the ideal. Nice try at an original thought though.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 2:51 pm
  • edit..
    pass on a guy for a guy who is “finally…

    Brad May 5, 2008, 2:53 pm
  • Ironhorse – You might try reading about some basic probability concepts.
    Here’s a good start:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayes'_theorem

    A YF May 5, 2008, 2:53 pm
  • I think the problem with Tex isn’t what he is (though he’s struggling right now) but what he isn’t and what it will take to sign him. He’s only a 1B and he’ll get 5-7 years. Except in that same time frame, one, two, or all of A-Rod, Jeter, or Jorge will need to move to 1B/DH. And they still have Damon and Matsui sign through next year. Matsui they might be tempted to re-sign if he keeps this up. All that said, I think they’d prefer roster flexibility over another big bat. The Duncans offer that. We’ll see.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 2:57 pm
  • Hey Brad,
    Sorry I didn’t get back to you until now, but it won’t let me drop Justin Upton because I have Matt Holliday on my team. When I try dropping Justin Upton, it says “Unable to complete action: player Matt Holliday is on another team.”
    Fox has totally f*cked up.

    Atheose May 5, 2008, 2:58 pm
  • I just proposed a trade to you, Ath. Just go and say yes. For whatever reason, it’s telling me that since Upton is on two rosters, it can’t allow me to adjust since I’m one of them. I don’t understand, but I offered you Garko for him, so just accept the trade, keep or drop Garko (I don’t care) and then maybe this’ll be resolved.
    Thanks.
    John – can you push that through so I can adjust before tonight’s game start? Thanks, man.

    Brad May 5, 2008, 3:04 pm
  • And that’s what it’s telling me too..Where the Hell is Holliday? Who has him besides you? Essentially I have given up Holliday AND Garko (which I don’t really care about) for Upton. This kid better keep producing! ha.

    Brad May 5, 2008, 3:06 pm
  • Yeah I went and accepted Brad. I tried that the other day with someone else though (who was trying to give me Holliday) but it didn’t work.
    Actually wait, it now says they’re both waiting for commissioner approval. Can any admins get John ASAP and tell him we need approval quick?

    Atheose May 5, 2008, 3:07 pm
  • SF Rod has Holliday, he’s trying to trade him to me but it’s awaiting commissioner approval.
    I’ll give you Garko back for nothing if you want, don’t worry about that. I just want to get all of this right.

    Atheose May 5, 2008, 3:08 pm
  • Oh yeah, also it won’t let me move ARod and Troy Tulowitzki out of my roster (they’re both on the DL) while this Matt Holliday glitch is going on. So yeah this is affecting three of my positions right now, lol.

    Atheose May 5, 2008, 3:10 pm
  • A YF: What does Bayes say about confusing fantasy league talk?

    IronHorse (yf) May 5, 2008, 3:11 pm
  • Thanks, man..
    Hopefully that’ll take care of the problem. I’d suggest doing the same thing with whoever else has Holliday besides you. Maybe we can fix what they screw up on our own. I’m going to PISSED if I can’t adjust my rosters this week AGAIN

    Brad May 5, 2008, 3:12 pm
  • SOMEONE CALL JOHN!! ha.

    Brad May 5, 2008, 3:13 pm
  • Attention administrators: can someone contact John and tell him to approve two trades in the fantasy league?

    Atheose May 5, 2008, 3:14 pm
  • Five.
    By my count, Ellsbury has reached on a single or walk 36 times. Thirteen times he walked with a man on first or second, so stealing would have been impossible. That drops the number to 23. Seven of his singles occurred with a man on first base. Assuming the runner advanced the one base drops his opportunities further — to 16.
    So Ellsbury — give or take a steal of third or a two-base advance by a lead runner here or there — has run 11 of the 16 times he’s been on first with second base empty in front of him. That means he’s been running nearly 75 percent of the time he’s in position to. That sounds like an awful lot to me…
    As for the ridiculous Ortiz/Giambi comment:
    Ortiz, last 17 games: .301/.370/.521, 4 HR, 21 RBI
    Giambi, last 17 games: .182/.338/.436, 4 HR, 11 RBI
    Ortiz, last 365 days: .310/.424/.568, 32 HR, 116 RBI
    Giambi, last 365 days: .172/.318/.372, 14 HR, 35 RBI
    And, lest I be accused of cherry-picking…
    Ortiz, 2008: .216/.316/.379, 5 HR, 24 RBI
    Gimabi, 2008: .150/.317/.375, 5 HR, 14 RBI
    Or, better yet…
    Ortiz, last four years: 609 games played (152 per season)
    Giambi, last four years: 421 games played (105 per season).

    Paul SF May 5, 2008, 3:15 pm
  • Don’t make me start the John – Bud Selig comparisons here.

    Brad May 5, 2008, 3:15 pm
  • Um, Paul: Ortiz is the DH, not a player:)

    Brad May 5, 2008, 3:18 pm
  • ath/brad- holliday is on the undroppable list. ath and i have a trade set up waiting approval. the DL issue is effecting my lineup as well. sorry for the trouble jim beam has caused all three of us. i’ll have a good talk with him tonite.
    brad- i’m keeping tejada.

    sf rod May 5, 2008, 3:21 pm
  • okay, thanks man.
    Yeah, Jim will get you in trouble sometimes, but no worries, I would have done the same exact thing! ha.
    How about Tejada for Martin and Edgar?

    Brad May 5, 2008, 3:24 pm
  • Paul:
    Clearly you don’t get it. In the instances you cite, Ellsbury should have attempted the greatly under-utilized direct diagonal steal from 1st to 3rd base, if for no other reason than to be caught often enough so as to reach the 75% “threshhold”. He would just need to be careful navigating the pitcher’s mound.

    IronHorse (yf) May 5, 2008, 3:35 pm
  • Paul – A few problems I see with your evidence, since you’re simply eliminating opportunities:
    1) You leave out the times he could have or did steal both 2nd and 3rd.
    2) Just because a runner is on base when he singles doesn’t mean the runner doesn’t advance to 3rd, and opening up 2nd. Indeed, you want him running then to stay out of a double play.
    3) On doubles, runners ahead of him probably score, and he has third open for the taking, especially of there’s less than two outs. Ellsbury has 2 doubles this year and 9 in his career.
    All of that makes the 75% comment meaningless. I can accept that logic but I’d want to see the number of all opportunities and how this rate compares to other great basestealers.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 3:42 pm
  • I can accept that logic but I’d want to see the number of all opportunities and how this rate compares to other great basestealers.
    Then do the work. Baseball reference is there for the taking.

    SF May 5, 2008, 3:44 pm
  • Well, IH, at least you understand now that the 75% rate is a threshold. Learning is fun!

    A YF May 5, 2008, 3:44 pm
  • Why should I do the work? I’m not out to prove anything. I argued based on his own history and current success. My conclusion doesn’t require any further evidence. Refuting it, however, does.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 3:46 pm
  • Wait, so it’s OK for you to make a blanket statement with NO evidence, but not for me to refute it with SOME evidence?
    That’s an, um, interesting (by which I mean hypocritical and laughable) way to collect notches in your keyboard.

    Paul SF May 5, 2008, 3:48 pm
  • Why should I do the work? I’m not out to prove anything.
    How disingenuous. This, to an extent, is a fine summation of your presence at this site.

    SF May 5, 2008, 3:50 pm
  • Clearly you don’t get it. In the instances you cite, Ellsbury should have attempted the greatly under-utilized direct diagonal steal from 1st to 3rd base
    I have a hilarious image of Ellsbury bending down and stealing the rosin bag on the pitcher’s mound as he does this, and the pitcher’s confusion as he tries to find it afterwards.

    Atheose May 5, 2008, 3:52 pm
  • Ellsbury would clearly use the mound as a leaping point and actually cut the time ggoing from first to third in half. He would essentially be flying the last 90 feet, affirming that he is, in fact, Superman, and cannot be caught no matter how many times you send him.
    If only the Red Sox weren’t such stupid stupidheads, they’d realize this.

    Paul SF May 5, 2008, 3:54 pm
  • IH:
    Does the DD steal count as one base or two? One attempt or two?

    SF May 5, 2008, 3:54 pm
  • No evidence? What?
    I pointed to his current and past success to suggest that Ellsbury could steal many more bases.
    You tried to refute that by suggesting he’s stolen in about 75% of his chances (where the denominator in your equation is underreported). You’ve gamed the argument in the details, and rather than being conservative against your hypothesis. If anything you’ve proven my point. There’s x number of chances he hasn’t fulfilled his potential. If x=5, as you suggest, and he’s successful in all five, that’s a 50% increase in his number of SBs. And I’d venture that x > 5.
    Go nuts if you’d like nail down x. I’ll happily criticize your methods to game the argument.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 3:57 pm
  • Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for SF to offer something on-topic. And to think he knows the definition of “troll”.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 3:59 pm
  • I heard Ellsbury is like 4 for 4 picking up hotties at Kenmore Square bars after home games. If “Kenmore Square Bars” = “x”, and “x = 5”, then it follows that Jacoby should be out hitting on the ladies far more frequently, or, at least, at a 25% greater rate.
    Certainly Tito should be sending Jacoby to the Cask a bit more often. There can be no refuting this. And I won’t do the work to show otherwise, either, that’s everyone else’s job.

    SF May 5, 2008, 4:01 pm
  • Again, off-topic. Troll?
    And you, too, SF could use a lesson in probability theory.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 4:03 pm
  • I hate to do this, but as someone who took advanced statistics I agree somewhat with A YF. If Jacoby’s career steal rate is 85%, and he’s staying at 100%, then the Red Sox are being overly conservative on sending him.
    HOWEVER, as John said way above there are far more factors involved. Is it in the best interest of Ellsbury to attempt stealing 2nd base when it’s likely that Ortiz or Manny will drive him in with a homerun, or that Ellsbury almost always scores from 1st on a double? And also there are plenty of situations where stealing 2nd base isn’t warranted, like when you’re up 6 runs in the 7th inning or down 2 runs in the 9th.
    Also, the more he steals the more likely we’ll see pitch-outs, which will hurt his numbers.

    Atheose May 5, 2008, 4:11 pm
  • So, in your world, anecdotal evidence is better than statistical evidence? Good to know for future debates.
    The fact remains: You made a broad criticism of the Red Sox with no evidence to back it up. The criticism itself wasn’t so bad; it didn’t particularly bother me, but you continued to defend the point, despite your lack of evidence (showing that you do, in fact, have something to prove). When confronted with data that indicated you may have been vastly overestimating the number of chances Ellsbury has actually had to steal, you somehow — amazingly — argue that the rebuttal, which relies on at least some, albeit imperfect, evidence is less valid than the original criticism.
    Simply amazing — and instructive that you have not changed, neither in style nor in substance.

    Paul SF May 5, 2008, 4:13 pm
  • If Jacoby’s career steal rate is 85%, and he’s staying at 100%, then the Red Sox are being overly conservative on sending him.
    But what is the antidote? Run him more often until his rate drops to 85 percent? Let’s say he goes 11 more times in situations that will drop his overall rate to 85 percent. That means he’ll be caught four times at a rate of 64 percent — in other words, below the necessary threshhold and no longer valuable as a baserunner for the two weeks’ worth of games that would cover.

    Paul SF May 5, 2008, 4:17 pm
  • Okay, the first part was easier than I thought:
    Career –
    1) Bases Empty: 30 = singles + walks; 2 doubles
    2) Runner 1st: 11 = singles + walks; 0 doubles
    3) Runner 2nd: 12 = singles + walks; 1 double
    4) Runner 3rd: 2 = single + walk; 0 double
    5) 1st and 2nd: 7 = singles + walks; 1 double
    6) 2nd and 3rd: 3 = single + walks; 0 doubles
    7) 1st and 3rd: 3 = single + walks; 1 double
    8)Bases loaded: 2 = single + walk; 1 double
    I’m sure, I’ve gotten something wrong, but here’s the direct link:
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/bsplit.cgi?n1=ellsbja01#situa-bases
    Because of the difficulty in assessing complex situations, we can eliminate #5-8.
    So let’s go one by one:
    1) 30 times on first – no runners in front of him. That’s 60 possible stolen bases. 2 doubles, that’s another two possible bases (steal of third). So a total of 62 possible bases.
    If we stopped there, that means with Ellsbury’s 20 SB in his career, he’s swiped less than one-third of what’s been possible.
    But to continue:
    2) Easy to eliminate with runner ahead of him.
    3) There are few more open bases in there. Runner from second sometimes scores on a single and certainly on a double. Let’s say three possible bases.
    4) Another few bases – let’s say three.
    So we’re basically looking at a rate of about 30% where he’s had an open base and attempted to steal it (20 divided by 68). Yeah, I’ll take another notch, thanks.
    By the way, Atheose shows exactly what’s wrong with this forum (and krueg echoes) – hating to offer up Truth over disagreeing with the moderators.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 4:29 pm
  • Honestly, I think folks here have been a bit unfair with A YF (not that he doesn’t bring it upon himself!). I think he asks some reasonable questions about Ellsbury’s baserunning, though I think the idea that we can come to some definitive conclusion about this, given the various mitigating circumstances, complexity of the system that needs modeling, and the small sample, is hard to fathom. I find the level of certainty upsetting, and the corresponding attitude that goes with—well, I think we could do without it. But I definitely don’t agree with SF that the direction of the criticism is absurd.

    YF May 5, 2008, 4:32 pm
  • Back to my original point: All of that analysis is still meaningless without a comparison to other excellent basestealers. But I’d bet that Ricky, back in the day, was swiping a bag 70-80% of the time he had a chance. Still, it’s obvious that Ellsbury has never been given a green light. I shudder to think what he’s capable of when he is. Uh oh, I hope that’s not considered a “broad” swipe against the Sox!
    And I’m still waiting for SF to add something on-topic ;)

    A YF May 5, 2008, 4:33 pm
  • Back from lunch and so thrilled this enriching discussion ocntinues here. And yes A YF, learning is fun. Let’s apply more of it…
    To revisit Mariano, the guy has a 0.00 ERA and has allowed 0 runs in 13 IP.
    Since the “threshhold” of a quality start is 3 ER per 6 IP, clearly they are not pitching Mo enough.
    Thanks A YF! I get it now! The game is so much mroe interesting when viewed through the prism of probability theory devoid of game context! Yeah!

    IronHorse (yf) May 5, 2008, 4:35 pm
  • I didn’t say the conservatism wasn’t justified, Paul. I just said that he’s not running to his potential.
    Now of course it may be more beneficial to the team if he runs less, depending on how likely Ortiz and Manny are to drive him in from first.

    Atheose May 5, 2008, 4:35 pm
  • Just looking at your numbers there A YF, I see 60 possible bases, but 30 of those are 3rd base. Now, we all know stealing 3rd with 2 outs isn’t smart, so that cuts—my guess—10 right off the top. And there any other number of factors constraining your formula. (How about opportunity? What about first pitch outs/hits in that span? I’m sure there were a few of those, so lop off a few more)….

    YF May 5, 2008, 4:39 pm
  • Why I’m certain, YF, is because the logic is so simple. Ellsbury has a small number of SB relative to what he’s capable of. I knew, yes in a certain way, he had many more opportunities based on the history of the game. The kid is capable of over 100 SB but the team isn’t giving him that chance. Why I have no idea, but it’s not based on any sound logic. They’re giving up on alot of almost-freebies. That’s fine by me. Who knew it would lead to this disagreement, but in-context I’m saying many nice things about Ellsbury. This is hardly an anti-Sox moment.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 4:39 pm
  • That’s a double-split, YF, that baseball reference doesn’t make easy. You’re right – we just can’t be sure of the number.
    We can also add back in a few more from when a hit with, for example, the bases loaded clear up the bases in front of him.
    My point is only and ever been that he’s not running as often as he should. That should be beyond debate now. Of course, it won’t be.
    “Now of course it may be more beneficial to the team if he runs less, depending on how likely Ortiz and Manny are to drive him in from first.”
    I will never agree with this, unless the kid is running into a significant number of outs. He’s not.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 4:45 pm
  • By the way, Atheose shows exactly what’s wrong with this forum (and krueg echoes) – hating to offer up Truth over disagreeing with the moderators.
    It wasn’t that I was afraid of disagreeing with the moderators, it was that I was hesitant to back up a point that you had vehemently defended, despite saying that you have “nothing to prove”. I think we’re all being a little overreactive today.
    Also, the main point of my statement was that it may be in the Red Sox’ advantage to be somewhat conservative with Ellsbury’s steals. The team is leading the league in most offensive categories, so it’s stupid to risk stealing in many situations where Ellsbury is likely to be driven in whether he steals or not.

    Atheose May 5, 2008, 4:46 pm
  • Also, to defend A YF, Ellsbury stealing 2nd base really is a freebee at this point. I have yet to see anyone come CLOSE to catching him.
    But again, it’s a dick move to steal when you’re up 5+ runs, and the batter at the plate will get some chin-music if you do it.

    Atheose May 5, 2008, 4:49 pm
  • A YF- you are not one of the chosen few bro…no matter what you say, they are going to destroy it. I see what you are saying, you were actually being complimentary of Ellsbury, but since you are who you are, no matter what you say, or the stats you bring to back it up…your opinion obviously means nothing. I think you have backed up your original comments that were on-post by the way, while your detractors were blatantly not but of course that doesn’t matter…

    krueg May 5, 2008, 4:51 pm
  • “t wasn’t that I was afraid of disagreeing with the moderators, it was that I was hesitant to back up a point that you had vehemently defended, despite saying that you have “nothing to prove”.
    Sorry, but then you’re choosing the moderator’s feelings over the truth. Why not simply argue the truth? Honestly, I could careless if folks agree with me. I’m not looking for friends – I’m looking to talk baseball. This is a fun place to do it because folks aren’t afraid of pushing back. It’s just sad when insight falls at the expense of emotional support.
    “so it’s stupid to risk stealing in many situations where Ellsbury is likely to be driven in whether he steals or not.”
    I’ll disagree vehemently with this point. A base is a base is a base. Unless, he’s running into outs, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be running. He’s not making outs on the basepaths. Ergo: He doesn’t have a a green light, and they’re not sending him enough.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 4:53 pm
  • oh…and how dare you stick up for yourself and your opinion in the face of criticism! You obviously have “something to prove”…
    *rolling eyes* It has nothing to do with the fact that everytime you make a point, contrary to popular opinion, you are a “troll” or worse…unreal.

    krueg May 5, 2008, 4:54 pm
  • I will never agree with this, unless the kid is running into a significant number of outs. He’s not.
    What if he steals 2nd base, and Ortiz/Manny gets an IBB because first base is open? The Giants cut down the number of steals they attempted from 2001-2004 precisely because of this.

    Atheose May 5, 2008, 4:54 pm
  • Then the bases would be loaded for Youkilis or it would be first and second with Manny up???

    krueg May 5, 2008, 4:56 pm
  • Krueg: I’m not one of the chosen few either, whatever that means, but I still think the 6-6 from 3-pt land is the most apt analogy here. Devoid of game-context, it really is meaningless to state someone should be shooting more of those just because he made the first 6, and similarly for a guy who is perfect in base-stealing.

    IronHorse (yf) May 5, 2008, 4:56 pm
  • i like the idea of having jacoby play on a pitchers mind while he’s on first. he helps whoever is at the plate see alot of fastballs and speeds up the delivery.

    sf rod May 5, 2008, 4:56 pm
  • IH- that is your opinion. A YF isn’t “wrong” or a “troll” because he disagrees, is he?

    krueg May 5, 2008, 4:57 pm
  • Thanks krueg. But don’t let yourself be bullied either. Honestly though, I can’t support you all the time either. That would be doing the same thing they do to us. If you think you’re right, keep arguing. Just don’t adopt their tactics (ad hominem, strawman, trolling). They’ll eventually get exposed for that nonsense. Talking baseball is fun. The other crap just gets in the way.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 4:58 pm
  • I don’t think he is trolling.
    I do think he is wrong. And he thinks I am. No problem with that.

    IronHorse (yf) May 5, 2008, 4:59 pm
  • Not sure how anyone can compare hoops to baseball either…
    Seems to me the bottom line is, the kid should run more, he is a good base stealer. What is the problem with that? I wish the Yankees would run more as well. Granted, the Sox are doing better at this point and maybe they don’t really need to but in A YF’s opinion, he should/can.
    Don’t mean to put words in your mouth A YF.

    krueg May 5, 2008, 5:00 pm
  • And you’re still showing yourself to misunderstand basic probability theory, IH.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 5:00 pm
  • I didn’t think anyone argued how genuine he was in his compliments of Ellsbury, but rather the idea that he’s not stealing enough, or rather, not being allowed to steal enough.

    Brad May 5, 2008, 5:00 pm
  • Held down by the man.

    Brad May 5, 2008, 5:01 pm
  • I honestly think A YF was unfairly treated. Looking back on the thread he wasn’t very flame-ish compared to stuff in the past, and was very complimentary towards the Sox. I think we should be able to keep the conversation polite without it turning into petty name-calling.
    It’s 5:00 here and work’s over, so I’ll catch up on the thread later tonight. But in general A YF presented a valid argument that the Red Sox should have Ellsbury run more, and he was attacked as a flamer.

    Atheose May 5, 2008, 5:01 pm
  • “What if he steals 2nd base, and Ortiz/Manny gets an IBB because first base is open? ”
    Then he steals third.
    Seriously, he should be running much more than he is now. That’s has been my only real point.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 5:01 pm
  • “And you’re still showing yourself to misunderstand basic probability theory, IH.”
    Now that’s on-point and baseball-related. Oops.

    IronHorse (yf) May 5, 2008, 5:01 pm
  • A YF- I just happen to agree with what you are saying in this thread and don’t see the reason for the venom that is spewed here over some of your posts.
    IH- I don’t think you were the one that called him a “troll”, you get it.

    krueg May 5, 2008, 5:02 pm
  • Sorry, but you’re choosing ignorance by supporting that analogy. And I’ve already pointed out how.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 5:03 pm
  • YF:
    In my first response earlier in this thread I asked A YF to give us examples of times that Ellsbury should have or might have run but didn’t, I asked him to give us context to his blanket claim that the Sox were not running enough, in itself perhaps a debatable topic. He didn’t do this – there are gamelogs that we could look at. That was my original question – what are the examples?
    Another thing: the debate here relies on a fallacy that A YF himself admitted exists earlier in the thread.
    Where did I say this?:
    “you can’t steal everytime you get on base”

    That’s the issue with your original assertion. The statistical construct relies on something you yourself admit is not a tenable scenario. Which therefore leads us to a critique of the numbers, something that statisticians (and scientists) probably and understandably detest, since you can’t critique numbers. But you can understand the numbers in a greater context, something that you seemed highly intent on not acknowledging.
    You can charge the Sox with holding Ellsbury back, whether on the basepaths or in general, (and to me this is a bit loopy – he’s continuing to perform at high levels despite playing AT higher levels; if anything one should praise the Sox for grooming this kid perfectly and enabling him to perform consistently, and even this might be premature considering the sample is still limited) but the statistics you cite rely on a vacuum. So while you put numbers together (no arguing with numbers, that’s their single greatest strength but also, sometimes, a trap) the reality intrudes. In baseball, there are so many variables contextually that those numbers take on different meanings. I am no luddite, by any means, I just want my numbers in context, to an extent, especially when charges are made that seem heavily dependent on that context, as with Ellsbury’s running game.
    So A: I have tremendous respect for facts. I think that if you wanted to make this discussion about statistics and the conceptualism of Ellsbury’s running patterns then I would have had no problems. But you asserted that you had no responsibility to prove anything, commented with a tone that implied that your position was irrefutable. This makes debate, to an extent, useless. I apologize for the troll comment, but I think you need to reassess the way you pursue your positions, rhetorically speaking.

    SF May 5, 2008, 5:04 pm
  • And by SF’s definition, that analogy is trollish behavior.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 5:04 pm
  • “I think we’re all being a little overreactive today.”
    Cripe…you can say that again. This type of discussion about statistics/probabilities reminds me about why I don’t read SOSH that often. Of course I do sometimes enjoy a good sarcastic dig or stereotypical comment about someone’s name like we’ve seen here today. (weak, btw.)
    Atheose, I agree with your “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” idea.

    DUFF - SF May 5, 2008, 5:05 pm
  • SF- seems to me you have a problem with A YF and find reasons to “jump” him. Is everyone that makes an assertion on this site asked for “concrete statistical” evidence to support it? No.

    krueg May 5, 2008, 5:07 pm
  • Ahhh, A YF, you have inspired me to settle on my epitaph. My tombstone shall read:
    “He chose ignorance”
    I like it. Thanks.
    Now if the Yanks would just pitch Mo every day.

    IronHorse (yf) May 5, 2008, 5:09 pm
  • Just looking at your numbers there A YF, I see 60 possible bases, but 30 of those are 3rd base. Now, we all know stealing 3rd with 2 outs isn’t smart, so that cuts—my guess—10 right off the top
    The irony in this iron-clad reliance on the “numbers” is that you guys are both arbitrarily assigning some sort of adjuster to these numbers — “let’s say three”, or “my guess – 10 right off the top”. Isn’t this exactly what SHOULDN’T BE DONE, if you are looking at things in purely statistical fashion? I think this also articulates the problem with making a blanket charge without understanding all the scenarios in which those numbers were/weren’t accomplished.

    SF May 5, 2008, 5:11 pm
  • After all that, SF finally adds something on topic! And then he reverts to ad hominem. Talk about loopy!
    Let’s carefully examine SF’s attempt: He criticizes me for not providing examples. Then for making a clear statement. Then for not providing numbers.
    By now, I’ve provided all of those things, so I still fail to see his point except to try to ding me. He’s refuted absolutely nothing I’ve said nor my basic point all along:
    Ellsbury should be stealing many more bases.
    I’m still waiting for something on-topic, or related to the post. Instead, SF continues to bait me with trollish behavior.
    Meanwhile, you may not be able to steal every time on-base, but Paul brought that assumption into play. And I was happy to show how much he gamed the numbers in trying to prove a point.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 5:12 pm
  • Me can’t follow directions home
    Bumble, bumble, drool….
    Me choosey ignorpants…bumble, drool…

    IronHorse (yf) May 5, 2008, 5:13 pm
  • Is everyone that makes an assertion on this site asked for “concrete statistical” evidence to support it? No.
    Of course not. But in the context of this discussion and this thread it seems totally warranted, and I stand by that request.

    SF May 5, 2008, 5:13 pm
  • By the way, I love how SF criticized my rhetorical style right after he’s apologized for calling me a troll. Nice.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 5:15 pm
  • Hug it out, biyatches.

    Brad May 5, 2008, 5:18 pm
  • “Isn’t this exactly what SHOULDN’T BE DONE, if you are looking at things in purely statistical fashion?”
    Paul started us down that path. I merely did a much better job of documenting that evidence.
    Meanwhile, my assumption was based on the entirety of baseball history. That’s why I felt so certain. Ellsbury is projected to steal 60 bases this year. For him, it’s obvious his natural talents are being held back. I still can’t believe I’m arguing that same point.
    Actually, I’m not. Good job. I’m done now.

    A YF May 5, 2008, 5:19 pm
  • IH: I actually laughed out loud at my desk there. Good stuff.

    Brad May 5, 2008, 5:19 pm
  • First game of the season in Japan, Ellsbury singles. Doesn’t steal. Why? Because Julio Lugo hit into a double play on the first pitch of his following at-bat. So those two “possible steals” were never possible steals in the first place, they were not in Ellsbury’s control.
    This is why the numbers need the context.

    SF May 5, 2008, 5:20 pm
  • The Show is such an addictive game. It’s partially the reason I haven’t posted as much as I used to.. haha..

    Lar May 5, 2008, 5:21 pm
  • SF- what evidence have you provided to contrast A YF’s opinion? Paul put some numbers together and A YF’s put together better numbers to support his opinion…not sure why you came into the discussion other than to blast YF???

    krueg May 5, 2008, 5:21 pm
  • Dear Brad:
    This is IronHorse’s assistant. IronHorse was found dead at his computer, drowning in his own saliva with his fist in his mouth. Apparently he didn’t realize that if he took his fist out of his mouth, he’d have a 100% chance of breathing. I can’t help but think, if only he had studied statistics.
    I thank you for your kind words to him though and will pass them on to his wife and children.
    The last thing we heard him say was “I choose ignorance!” We’re all very sad.

    IronHorse (yf) May 5, 2008, 5:22 pm
  • krueg:
    See my comment two above yours, I am guessing you cross-posted. I wanted context, that was my original request way back when. In the first game of the season we get instant context that helps us understand a little more about Ellsbury’s running. I don’t/didn’t understand the resistance to providing this context.

    SF May 5, 2008, 5:25 pm
  • “We’re all very sad.”
    Ain’t that the truth.

    Devine May 5, 2008, 5:28 pm
  • SF: I don’t know that one AB really gives context to a month+ of the season but it certainly shows there are variables to consider and that would be a great place to start a counter-argument with…Much better than labelling someone a troll or flamer. I’m just not sure why you took such offense to the original debate SF…only seems like one explanation to me.

    krueg May 5, 2008, 5:30 pm
  • In the second game of the season, Ellsbury singled, but Julio Lugo was on in front of him. There were two outs, Pedroia coming up. Double steal advisable there? Not sure. Pedroia walked, bringing Ortiz up. There’s another example of a “potential stolen base” not really a potential stolen base.
    On April ninth, Ellsbury walked twice in four plate appearances. The first time he loaded the bases, the second time he followed a Varitek double but was erased on a DP ball by, yep, Lugo. In the ninth he reached on a FC leaving second base open, but Alex Cora singled on the first pitch, so that shows up in the stats as a potential steal but in fact, no steal was ever possible.

    SF May 5, 2008, 5:32 pm
  • SF- OK, why not come up with these examples while the debate was raging rather than after???

    krueg May 5, 2008, 5:36 pm
  • On April 10th, Ellsbury entered as a pinch runner for Manny Ramirez at second base with one out, the Sox up 6-3, and Kevin Youkilis at the plate. He didn’t steal, was eventually moved to third on a walk to JD Drew and scored on a single by Sean Casey. He walked in the bottom of the eight to load the bases.
    On April 12th against the Yankees he walked to open the game, stole second, then Pedroia got an infield hit to put runners at 1/2 with none out and Ortiz/Manny coming up. Stealing advisable? Not necessarily, though Papi hit into a double play and Manny popped out. In the sixth inning he singled with the bases empty (two more “potential steals”) but then Pedroia doubled on the first pitch sending JE to third and negating those potential steals.
    I don’t want to do this for the entire season to date, frankly, but I think it should be evident from this (limited) investigation that it’s not a black and white issue.

    SF May 5, 2008, 5:42 pm
  • One more, on April 13th against the Yankees Ellsbury leads off with a walk (two more potential steals), steals second and then advances to third on a throwing error, so take away another one of those “potential steals”. In the third he singles but Lugo is on in front of him with two down and Pedroia up. Possible double steal chance, but you can’t double steal every time and Posada wasn’t playing but rather Molina, an excellent defender.
    So as we can see from just these few examples all of those “potential steals” are dropping like flies, and we’re only two weeks into the season.

    SF May 5, 2008, 6:01 pm
  • Oh snap, are all the comments on one page again? If a permanent state, YAY!

    Devine May 5, 2008, 6:06 pm
  • Awwwwww, damn…right after I posted too.

    Devine May 5, 2008, 6:07 pm
  • “But if anything, he’s not running them enough. Ellsbury, Crisp, and even Pedroia are all perfect with 4 SB or more (20 for 20). That tells me they aren’t trying enough if they’re not failing.”
    I will agree that his success rate is very impressive and if Ellsbury was on another team your theory would be completely correct. Problem is who Ellsbury plays for has to come in to consideration when making the above statement.
    Ellsbury has 86 AB’s
    ——
    25 Hits
    -3 HR’s (Can’t steal bases on a HR)
    +17 BB’s (17 More Chances)
    -1 Triple (Can Steal Home, but not reasonable)
    -2 Doubles (Stealing third? Not in this lineup)
    ————
    11 SB’s = He stole a base 31% of the time he was given the chance. That also does not account for times the score/situation did not allow a stolen base (Down by 2, up by 5 or more, etc…)
    *The Red Sox have had 9 games (W & L’s) decided by more than 5 runs.
    *The Red Sox have had 5 Wins decided by 2 runs or less.
    In comparison Rickey Henderson during his best SB seasons (1982, 1983 and 1988) stole bases (using the same criteria as above) at a 58%, 50%, and 43% clip. During those 3 seasons Henderson was not surrounded by the offense that Ellsbury is in 2008. Also the SB was a more utilized weapon in the era of baseball. Baseball is a changed game where teams wait for HR’s and big innings rather than playing small ball when they are trailing. 31% of the time is pretty aggressive for a team that has the offensive prowess that the Sox have. Baseball and especially baseball in the AL is so much different than it was when Henderson played, etc… Ellsbury is followed by Pedroia, Papi, Ramirez, Lowell, Youkilis and Drew in the lineup, SB’s are not necessary when you have that kind of lineup behind him. Now I will agree with A YF that he is stealing bases pretty easily right now, but Francona still needs to manage based on the team he has. Crawford needs to steal bases for the Rays to go, Ellsbury doesn’t need to steal bases for the Sox to win. He simply needs to get OB, that’s where his true value comes in to play on this team.
    In a vacuum what A YF is saying is correct. But unfortunately baseball isn’t played in a vacuum. I respectfully disagree with his statement. That being said I didn’t mean to turn this thread into what it has become by simply disagreeing with A YF.
    *My above math is slightly flawed. It’s impossible to analyze every detail of Ellsbury’s season. But I put together the best analysis I could with the data I could retrieve.

    John - YF May 5, 2008, 9:30 pm
  • Brad and Ath…Brad has my email. Simply email me if an issue like that comes up again. Although I will tell you I was in the middle of my game when you 2 were looking for me. I know FOX is flawed, I apologize.

    John - YF May 5, 2008, 9:32 pm
  • Brad and Ath, looks like the problem is resolved. I am sorry it took so long to get it done. Be patient with FOX, I know they are doing a poor job.

    John - YF May 6, 2008, 1:30 pm

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