
 

The
True Value of a Steal We all know about steals
and the value that they posses for a fantasy season. If you don’t got em’,
your basically “punting,” or giving up, one of the 5 major categories
in fantasy baseball on offense (AVG, HR, RBI, RUNS, SB). If you do got em’,
well, then you are sitting pretty like the George Steinbrenner when it
comes time to sign that free agent that’s price is ridiculously high.
But are steals calculated correctly? By this we mean is the steal, a
pretty straightforward stat, really that straightforward? Let’s see if
we can muddy the waters a bit for you. Pierre 65, Crawford 55, Sanchez 52, Podsednik 43, Beltran 41, Roberts 40, Soriano 35, Renteria 34, Suzuki 34, Lofton 30, Damon 30, Eric Young 28, Baldelli 27, Furcal 25, Cabrera 24. Pretty standard stuff, but have you thought of looking at steals alongside caught stealing (CS)? How does this list strike you?
The leaderboard looks a little bit different in that context doesn’t it? What if we revised our top 15, based not on total steals but on the aggregate total? If we did it would look like this:
Pierre and Crawford maintain their top two positions on the list, while Sanchez falls from the 3^{rd} spot to 5^{th}. When you take a look at Sanchez’s poor success rate of 68% (52 of 76) and realize that on the other end of the spectrum you have Beltran and his 90% (37 of 41), we hope that you can see our point. Yes, Beltran had 11 less steals than Sanchez (41 to 52), but he was thrown out 20 times less (4 to 24)! In other words, if compare Sanchez to Beltran, you give Sanchez a +11 for the steals and a 20 for his CS, and so you end up with Sanchez being a –9 in comparison to Beltran. Should that really be rewarded? Another way to look at this is to say that Sanchez made 9 more outs than Beltran did with his CS, so why don’t we just subtract 9 hits, or walks, from Sanchez’s OBP? That would lower his OBP to .299 from his actual .319 OBP from last year. Think about that…in essence we’re saying that each CS is worth roughly 1.52 points off of ones OBP (depending on total plate appearances). If we turn to Beltran we get the following numbers: 41 SB, 4 CS, with a .389 OBP, which if we subtract the 4 CS from the times he reached base, we get a .382 OBP. This further emphasizes the importance of being successful on ones stolen base attempts. Speaking of that success rate, haven’t you heard that a 7580% success rate is the ideal for basestealers. How did our top guys from last year do in this respect?
Based on the “success rate” of 75% and up, only Furcal, Cabrera, Beltran, Crawford, Damon, Renteria, Podsednik, Soriano and Ichrio would be considered to have had a successful season (leaving out Lofton, Pierre, Sanchez, Roberts, Baldelli and Young). How accurate is this 7580% figure we often hear? Here are the percentages for the top 10 basestealers of alltime.
* Billy Hamilton’s career
lasted from 18881901, prior to the recording of the CS. It appears that 7580% is right about where the top guys on the list sit, so we comfortable in stating that benchmark as a good one for basestealers to aspire to. One last table…how did our guys do if we list the top 15 players from 2003 based upon this aggregate total only, meaning that you get a +1 for a steal and a –1 for a CS? We end up seeing a couple of new names by this reckoning (in bold).
In closing we would propose that a CS is just as important as an SB, and in fact someone who willynilly gets caught running the bases’ with reckless abandon should be punished and not rewarded for their transgressions. A prefect example of this is Luis Castillo, who in 2003 had 21 SB but was caught 19 times, meaning that in our system he would have only had a +2 in the SB category or less than Jeff Kent’s aggregate total of 4 (6 SB, 2 CS)! SB’s are a valuable an important stat but lets be fair about how we assign value to them and realize that the discerning thief is much more valuable in real baseball, so shouldn’t we mirror that in the fantasy world?



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