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The Dodger Base Running Improved in 2016

Joc Pederson Slide

The Dodger hitters are not the fleetest of foot. Everyone knows this. Nobody in the Dodger lineup is going to steal 100 bases, or make pitchers scared when they are on base. Howie Kendrick actually led the club with only 10 steals. Joc Pederson was second with 6 swipes. The Dodgers finished with just 45 stolen bases last season. That’s ok because there is more to good base running than merely stolen bases, or distracting the opposing pitchers.

Don’t get me wrong, stolen bases and distractions are a big part. They are not everything. A big part of good base running is the ability to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves when a player is on base during games. That means going from first to third on a base hit, or going from second to home on a double. Taking the extra base when it presents itself is a huge thing. The good base running clubs can do this easily, while the poor base running clubs struggle.

Over the last few seasons the Dodgers have had issues with this. Either they didn’t try, or when they did try to take those extra bases they failed. If we look at the Dodger’s base running numbers from 2015, we can see that the boys in blue were one of the worst base-running clubs in the majors. They were bad and the numbers back this up.

Embed from Getty Images

Hit advancement opportunities is the number of times a club has the opportunity to go from first to third on a base hit, or score from second on a base hit. Every club is given a rating. A positive rating is good, while a bad base running club would have a negative rating.

2015 base running

Hit advancement opportunities

521 (ranked 26 out of 30)

Hit advancement rating

-4.51 (ranked 25 out of 30)

Other advancement opportunities (wild pitches, passed balls, etc)

45 (30 out of 30)

Other advancement opportunities rating

1.00 (2 out of 30)

BRR (base running runs)

-5.3 (22 out of 30)

Despite being one of the top clubs in scoring on passed balls and wild pitches the Dodgers were one of the worst base running clubs in hit advancement opportunities in 2015. They ranked at the bottom of the majors in hit advancement opportunities, hit advancement rating, and base running runs created.

The Dodgers were actually much better in 2016. Check out how they ranked in the below base running categories.

2016 base running

Hit advancement opportunities

564 (ranked 13 out of 30)

Hit advancement rating

+3.04 (11 out of 30)

Other advancement opportunities (wild pitches, passed balls, etc)

69 (13 out of 30)

Other advancement opportunities rating

0.17- (2 out of 30)

BRR (base running runs)

-0.0 (14 out of 30)-roughly league average

Those are big improvements in the club’s base running from the year before. They were about league average in creating runs on the bases, but that’s a huge difference from the year before when they were at the bottom of the league. They were in the positive in the rest of the categories as well.

What can we attribute this improved base running too? Perhaps the new coaching staff can be given some credit? Maybe a change in approach is another reason? Did the Dodgers change their base running philosophy? Did they alter their pre-game routines?

Or maybe they were just lucky. Either way, base-running is a huge part of the game. Good base-running can lead to more runs scored. The better you run the bases, and the more often you take extra bases effectively, the better chance you give your team to win more games. Let’s hope the base-running continues to trend upwards for the Dodgers this season.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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Scott Andes
Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

52 thoughts on “The Dodger Base Running Improved in 2016

  1. Interesting article. Could not having Puig in the lineup helped, as that eliminated base running mistakes? How about Turner struggling early in the season. By not being on base he wouldn’t clog up the base paths with his jog from first to second. We also changed our 3B coach, that probably helped. Good scouting maybe?

    Hopefully we’ll have some of that success this year.

    1. Yeah, I thought this was interesting too. Honestly, without being at the game and seeing the entire field it’s hard to know how the team is running the bases. I do remember seeing some guys looking over their shoulder and that is a no no, taught in Little League. The general rule I grew up with is take what they give you and steal one on occasion. You do that by working hard in practice and in the game keeping your head up with an eye on your coach. I don’t see a lot of speed on this club, obviously FAZ doesn’t value it as they traded it away.

      But, it’s good to know we improved. Thanks.

  2. This is an excellent article. I think it’s not luck. Not having Mattingly around was probably worth quite a few ticks alone. I also think it is not on Puig. Our 2015 baserunning was poor throughout the lineup, and we had significantly better running last year with essentially the same veterans, including Puig and Utley. Puig sat out a portion of 2015 too, and A-Gon played most of both seasons.

    For me, it’s just another reason to have faith in Roberts and his coaching staff. They seem to be doing the right things, building a good culture, and passing the eye test as well as the SABR tests.

    1. Mattingly and Roberts played the game differently at the MLB level, hence why they would look at things differently while coaching it.

      When you are a doubles, triples or home run hitter you ONLY remember the times the guy was thrown out in front of you. But when you were a contact hitter with speed you loved it when the guys in front of you took extra bases. Now it’s all about getting that base hit.

      1. Chili

        It didn’t matter what the problem was, with Mattingly.

        He would let a hitter hit, to long in the wrong place in the order, or he continued to use the same relief pitcher, that wasn’t getting the job done.

        He was very indecisive!

        And he was just given the job.

        1. Well I’m not sticking up for Mattingly but rather pointing out a difference in philosophy that probably exist due to their playing days/styles.

          Again, not saying Mattingly was all that but he did manage the team to the first 3 of it’s 4 straight West titles. His team did go on a 42 and 8 run.

          1. Chili

            He had a better starting pitching rotation, then Roberts had.

            And Puig and Hanley, saved his job, for another year.

            But I do get, where you are coming from.

          2. MJ,

            Like I said, I’m giving some props to Mattingly but not saying that I would prefer Mattingly over Roberts, after one season quite the contrary.

            But I will caution everyone that Roberts managed and rode his horses in the Playoffs to get where they got. Jansen was pitching for $ last season. A big part of me says that won’t quite happen again. Roberts will need key pieces to advance deep in the postseason same as Mattingly.

  3. In other news, Matt Wieters has agreed to 2 year $21MM contract with the Nationals. Of the top 50 FA listed only Blanton now remains unsigned.
    Of the 49 that have signed only 11 have signed with the teams MLBTR had forcasted

    1. Richie

      You would think Blanton and his agent, would see the writing on the wall, but with him still unsigned, that says it all.

  4. During the years that Mattingly was the manager, the Dodgers had good numbers for getting on base, but they were not scoring the runs, that they should have.

    And how many times did we see a runner on third, that wasn’t able to score, with less then two outs, or with no outs, when Mattingly was here?

    It was an on going problem, and Mattingly didn’t ever do, or try something different.

    And that was so frustrating, I am just glad, that he is gone.

    Roberts and his coaches, have made a big change with this team, and being as young as they are, they are much more passionate about there work, then Mattingly, and his coaches were.

    I think they are responsible for the Dodgers having the most comeback wins, in baseball last year too.

    With the starting pitching rotation, that Roberts was given, he sure did a very good job, for a rookie manager.

    And Roberts handled the bullpen pretty well too.

    He didn’t stick with Baez and Hatcher, when they were not doing there jobs, at the begining of the season, and that is how Blanton became the set up guy.

  5. MJ –

    LAD 2015 WRISP – .249. 22nd in MLB
    LAD 2016 WRISP – .250. 23rd in MLB

    We fix that and we could win the West.

    1. 2016 hitters with runners in scoring position(25+ AB’s):

      Turner: .325
      Puig .301
      AGon .297
      Seager .295
      Pederson .281
      Utley .276
      Grandal .247
      Thompson .123
      SVS .094

      Team .250
      Opponets .265

      1. Also 7th inning or later(25+ AB):

        Seager .295
        Toles .273
        Turner .269
        Puig .246
        AGon .244
        Grandal .232
        Pederson .176
        Kiki .145
        SVS .132

        Team .224

          1. Badger

            Did you see the Lakers cleaned out there front office, and Magic is now in charge, of all things, basketball related.

  6. I see a trade coming. 🙂

    Who does Magic know quite well?

    And who does that somebody have that is chirping that he might not resign with his current team?

  7. This will probably infuriate some here, but this is a really interesting article:

    The question these days is simply “What’s the most effective way to get around 920 quality innings from your starters?”

    I wonder if some are going to answer one of the following:

    A. Get the most you can out of your five best pitchers?
    B. Keep your pitchers healthy and optimally performing by limiting innings and stress
    C. Focus, during the season, on developing arm strength and pitching strategies for the postseason and future seasons.
    D. All of the above (which is impossible, but easy to say)

    I’m sure I’m missing some lines of thought, so feel free to add.

    1. bluto, that article shouldn’t infuriate any Dodger fan. Comforting to know FAZ has been playing chess while others play checkers.

      Here is another 21st century fact, that will probably infuriate some here, but it is reality and again FAZ is at the forefront, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!!

      The Diamondbacks are “looking into building the industry’s most intelligent catchers,” including focusing on pitch framing, catching coach Robby Hammock told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. “The catching staff tries to throw out attempted base-stealers 80-120 times a year as opposed to receiving 20,000 to 25,000 pitches a year,” Hammock said. “What do you want to emphasize?” Hammock’s views explain the Diamondbacks’ offseason decision to jettison Welington Castillo, a poor framer, in favor of the defensively adept Jeff Mathis.

      Go Dodgers!

          1. Yep. Called “the beginning of the end”. Catchy don’t you think. That’s when the article was written. That’s AFTER we first started talking about it.

            I know saber dudes prefer catchers who they think are fooling umpires into calling pitches outside the zone strikes a couple times a game, but I’m old fashioned, I still prefer catchers who catch EVERYTHING, control the running game and hit over .228.

            Here’s what the chart mentioned in that article looks like. Maybe you can understand it better in a picture.

          2. Yes he did bluto. That is kind of stuff that happens when you spend most of your time fantasizing about Randy Maddow being in your bed.

            Why are people still talking about pitch framing? Because it is a BIG and IMPORTANT part of what a MLB catcher needs to do to be successful. It’s only old slow pitch umpires and pompous MLB umpires who think pitch framing is a “dying art”. These groups BELIEVE they never get it wrong, that they can’t be fooled. However, most MLB teams know better. Thankfully, FAZ is among those teams.

    2. No infuriation, just the realization that the line between starter and relief pitcher is becoming blurrier and blurrier. A pitcher is a pitcher and an out an out. It’s irrelevant is the 4th and 5th slots are made up of 6 or 7 bodies. As long as they can get outs and hand over a close game to the bullpen, that’s good enough for FAZ!

    3. 100 IP feels light for Urias. Over 120 last year. Can his build up take him to 150 ?

      What kind of WHIP and ERA do you guys see out of Urias this year?

        1. 150 IP.

          I’m thinking he would track from less than 100 IP in ’15, to roughly 125 including playoffs last year, then 150, 175, and 200 if he can by 2019. If he’s throwing the ball well, with 3 or less ERA and 1.3 or less WHIP, picking up wins, then he should throw as many innings as reasonable. Obviously if this was yesteryear, he’d throw over 200-250+ without many questions asked.

          I thought he looked pretty darn good for a 20 year old. I didn’t get the impression that he is definitely a top of rotation guy, more very solid #3.

          1. I think that’s a reasonable assumption. 150 innings isn’t as easily reached as it usta was. If he’s going to be held back for extended ST, and they say he is, the question for me is – how many starts will he miss? Extended ST typically ends in June, but they could bring him up at any time. I hope they don’t. fangraphs only projects 18-24 starts. Looking at our starting rotation, all 10 of them, I’m thinking the Dodgers want Urias peaking in September. He threw a career high 127.2 innings in ’16, up from a career high of 87 in ’14. It’s quite possible he could be the best #3 on the team down the stretch, and that is why I don’t want to see him out of gas in mid October.

    4. Bluto

      I don’t know if you followed the Dodgers closely, when we had Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu starting.

      But you usually could count on these three pitchers, to pitch at least seven innings, if not more, most of the season.

      We had some trouble with the number fours and fives, but nothing like Kazmir, Anderson, and McCarthy.

      Anderson did make it through his first season, so I will give him credit for that, but the front office, were very very lucky there.

      I don’t have a problem with skipping a starter’s start, occasional, to keep them fresh.

      And Kershaw could probably benefit from that, if we are not in a close division race.

      But starters not being able to pitch through the six and seventh innings, is a problem.

      It seemed like every pitcher other then Kershaw, couldn’t pitch effectly pitch, past five innings.

      When a team has weak starters like that, the pitchers in the bullpen get over worked, and they are not making the same money, these starters are getting, either.

      If you add up all the money used on starting pitching, and every other pitcher they have had to pay, to fill in for Anderson, Kazmir, and McCarthy, along with there salaries, the money does add up.

      And pitchers like these, you can’t use in the post season.

      A big part of the reason, the Cubs beat us in the post season, was there starting pitching.

      They had four starting pitchers, that were very capable of pitching, in the post season.

      And we had to use Anderson and Wood in 2015, in the post season.

      And last year, we had to use Maeda and Urias, in the post season.

    5. I’m not infuriated. I’m interested that that the author may have figured out what the “master plan” actually is. Things fit together if you assume that the Braintrust neither desires nor expects to get a reasonable number of innings out of starters. If all pitchers are just pitchers, there isn’t a difference between starters and relievers as all innings are just innings, and it doesn’t matter if a pitcher is reliable or can be counted on as long as he is “good” (more on that subject later), that would explain how the current staff has been assembled.

      It is also of a piece with a Billy Beane theory of a few years ago (since discredited) that, except for positions like SS or C, all hitter are just hitters and that they are interchangeable in the field and that their defense really didn’t matter. He tended to sign “3 true outcome”-types and they could hit HR’s and walk and not much else. Funny, it turns out that things like making contact and saving runs defensively actually mattered!

      Anyway, to say that a Clayton Kershaw doesn’t matter defies reality. Look at the betting odds – when a guy like Kershaw pitches, the Dodgers are prohibitive favorites to win, home or road, every time except when their opponent has an ace of almost equal quality on the mound. Using Mike Petriello theory, as long as you can get 5 2/3 innings out of a starter, it shouldn’t matter as long as the pitcher is “good”. And sure, Kid K is “good”, but it matters that you have a stud who can give you 7 – 9 innings of great baseball almost every time out. So would I rather have 20 guys who can pitch 5 2/3 innings 10 times per year, or would I rather have – I don’t know, maybe Kershaw and Greinke? Bumgarner and Cueto? Scherzer and Strasburg? Arrieta and Lester?

      As to the “good” part of the good pitchers, I disagree that the Dodgers have 10 “good” pitchers. Here are the Dodgers’ 10 pitchers

      Kershaw – 12 – 4 1.69, .73 (WHIP), 9.2 (K/9) 149 (IP)
      Hill – 12 – 5, 2.12, 1.0, 10.5, 110 (includes time from OAK and LA)
      Maeda – 16 – 11, 3.48, 1.14, 9.2 176
      Kazmir – 10 – 6, 4.56, 1.36, 8.8 136
      Stripling – 5 – 9, 3.96 1.26. 6.7, 100 (including bullpen innings)
      Urias – 5 – 2, 3.39, 1.46, 9.8, 77
      Wood – 1 – 4, 3.73, 1.26, 9.8, 60 (including bullpen innings)
      McCarthy – 2 -3 , 4.95, 1.38, 40
      Stewart – 2 – 2, 5.79, 1.61, 8.0, 28
      Ryu – 0- 1, 11.57, 2.14, 5

      Does this aggregation give you confidence that the Dodgers have 5 good starters who can give the Dodgers 6 inning/game? What are the odds that McCarthy, Ryu, Kazmir, Hill will give the Dodgers more than 20 starts this year?

      1. The bad part of that article is that he failed to mention the need for more bullpen arms/ innings if you use this strategy.

        1. Well the article stated that the FAZ plan is to get about 920 innings out of the starters. I guess the best that could be hoped for is about 1,000 innings out of your starters. At least that is what we are told is ideal (5 starters at 200 IP each) by some of the board GMs.

          Used to be the back end of a MLB bullpen saw very little action. Now all 7 or 8 guys in the pen are going to see regular action.

      2. Rick, if I read you right, and I think I do, you’ve summed up how I feel perfectly. I’ve been saying very much the same thing for over two years now, though apparently not as articulately.

        The idea of “strong up the middle” has been around since Medwick was a minnow. And strong up the middle includes sending out strong starting pitching night after night. The Cubs sure get it. As do SF and Washington. I’m not convinced the Dodgers braintrust buy into it. After Kershaw there is an enormous difference in the next 9 starting pitchers.

        And though I think Seager and Forsythe are decent fielders, nobody is going to confuse them with the best in the league. In fact, our overall defense is very middle of the pack.

  8. This from MLB Trade Rumors:

    “Given their underwhelming selection of rotation candidates, the Padres are open to trying a radically different approach with respect to starting pitcher usage this season, per AJ Cassavell of Manager Andy Green could opt to deploy a certain starter once through the order before switching to another one, perhaps based on handedness, Cassavell explains. On why that’s not a popular strategy, Green offered: “My perspective would be it’s a little bit more counter-cultural than anything else. It hasn’t really been done before. But matchups are becoming more and more prevalent.”

    So – the Braintrust is out in front? I can see the game 20 years from now – 20 or 25 pitchers per team, each one faces a batter or two, 40 man active rosters. That would be a totally brilliant game! I don’t think that I can watch.

    1. If you have starters that aren’t likely to finish the year with 30+ starts this kinda makes sense. I could see on a road trip to St Louis in August having 3 of our 10 starters going 3 innings each. Ryu, Wood, Stripling. Kershaw. Stewart, Kazmir, McCarthy. Maeda. Hill, Ryu, whoever – and do it again. Or, 6 man rotation. We got enough to keep everybody fresh until November. I’m not making any sense so I’ll stop n…….

  9. Michael, I hope you have started your reading, it’s a wonderful world to get into. Here are some authors and titles I can highly recommend. I have them as ebooks if you are set up for that.
    Stephen Leather might be my current favorite. All of his books are set in England, Bangkok, or Hong Kong. He doesn’t have a standard format that he repeats in each book as most writers do, each book is totally different. Tunnel Rats; Tango One; The Stretch; and Soft Target are some of his books you will like.
    Tony Hillary has a series of books about a couple of Navajo policemen in Arizona and New Mexico that I loved.
    Stephen Hunter frequently writes books about military snipers, one of them was made into a big movie a few years ago, movie nowhere near as good as the book.
    David Baldacci. In particular I liked Total Control; Zero Day; The Escape; and Absolute Power (also a movie)
    Stephen King wrote two I liked a lot, The Stand and Under The Dome.
    Greg Iles: Black Cross; Spandeau Phoenix; and 24 Hours (Also on TV for several seasons…)
    Nelson DeMille: Word of Honor (An ex-officer is tried for an atrocity his unit did in Viet Nam 20 years after the war is over); The Charm School
    Clive Cussler, too many to list…
    Alex Berenson series about a CIA agent.
    Vince Flynn series about Mitch Rapp, an American CIA assassin
    Lee Child’s series on ex-MP Jack Reacher. He’s 6’5″, 250 pounds and tough as nails. In the movie he was played by the midget Tom Cruise (5’4″). Unreal.
    Another super favorite, Michael Connolley, about LA detective Harry Bosch and his half-brother, criminal attorney Mickey Haller. First book I’d read is The Last Coyote. That will give you as good an understanding of the character as you can get.
    One more book that might get your attention, Unintended Consequences by John Ross. A very long book that is sort of anti-government but very interesting.

      1. It’s both interesting and rosy.

        Perhaps a little too rosy, but does nicely portray the team’s depth and quality.

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