Cannon Arms in 2015

August 28, 2015

This season, it seems as if every night there’s another highlight of a runner being gunned down trying to take an extra base. In fact, 2015 is on pace to break the record for kills—direct throws to a base to nab a runner—in a single season since Baseball Info Solutions began collecting this data in 2003.

Outfield Arm Runs Saved is a technique to evaluate an outfielder’s arm not only taking into account his ability to kill baserunners, but it also takes into account the fear factor for runners attempting to advance. Here are the leaders so far this season:

Most Outfield Arms Runs Saved, 2015
Player OF Arm Runs Saved
Leonys Martin 7
Starling Marte 7
Ender Inciarte 6
Eddie Rosario 6
Yoenis Cespedes 5
Adam Jones 5
Kevin Kiermaier 5
J.D. Martinez 5


Outfield Kills—one component of Outfield Arm Runs Saved—tend to capture everyone’s attention. The second component, Preventing Runner Advancement, shows how an outfielder can impact baserunners by preventing them from advancing in the first place.

Lowest Rate of Extra Bases Taken (XBT), 2015
By Outfield Position, Minimum 500 Innings
Pos Player Extra Bases Taken Throw Opps XBT% Positional Avg.
LF Alex Gordon 9 51 17.6% 36.6%
CF Michael Taylor 22 55 40.0% 54.5%
RF Giancarlo Stanton 27 72 37.5% 48.3%


Former third baseman Alex Gordon continues to show off his arm in left field, allowing runners to take an extra base on only 17.6 percent of their opportunities. He and Yoenis Cespedes (20.9 percent XBT rate) outperform the field in that statistic, and while they do both have fantastic arms, it helps that they play left field. Because left fielders are closer to third base than either center fielders or right fielders, they allow a lower rate of extra bases taken on average.

Entering the last month of the regular season, these players have the potential to impact pennant races by preventing runners from taking extra bases with the threat of their throwing arms and in turn, preventing extra runs from crossing the plate.


COMMENTS (6 Comments, most recent shown first)

re the comment below: I think that's unfair.
I think it's an interesting and important finding, and worthy of being put here.

My only quibble is that John hardly ever replies to the comments (if ever; not sure).
9:25 PM Aug 29th
A very weak "article."
5:17 PM Aug 29th
(BTW, Nick Hundley.
I made that kind of mistake about lots of guys.
In fact we're talking on "Reader Posts" about calling Ted Cruz "Todd.") :-)
4:41 PM Aug 29th
Read this shortly after seeing video of Gregory Polanco throwing out a runner at home last night (Friday 8/28) with a gorgeous throw from short right field. Polanco in the same game started a 9-6-3 play (I think it was 6, might have been 4) in which he fielded a ball hit by Todd Hundley high off the wall in right field and gunned it to second base, the infielder then throwing to first to nail Hundley, who'd started to second but turned back when he realized he'd be out by about 20 feet. Technically not a kill, but still.

Two very impressive throws. Makes me wonder how Polanco ranks for this season.
4:33 PM Aug 29th
P.S. Probably stating the obvious, in view of:

"[Alex Gordon...and Yoenis Cespedes...outperform the field in that statistic, and while they do both have fantastic arms,] it helps that they play left field. Because left fielders are closer to third base than either center fielders or right fielders, they allow a lower rate of extra bases taken on average."

....that means left fielders have an advantage over other outfielders on this thing, and right fielders have the biggest disadvantage. I'd say that this needs to be boldly highlighted in any presentation of such data, and that if you want to have the rankings be most meaningful, there needs to be some kind of adjustment for it.
3:57 AM Aug 29th
My impression is that fielding in general is (seems to be? IMO it's "is") the clearest aspect of the game that's improved over what it was a generation ago, and that it's hugely improved. I think it's significantly improved even compared to just 10 years ago. I'd also offer the further impression that the improvement is mostly of a specific kind: "great plays." I don't know if there's such improvement in 'routine' plays; I wouldn't be surprised if those get messed up about as much as they used to. But it seems like successful fielding plays that were rare events in the past are now something like 50-50 or even better than 50-50. (I'm not going by highlight reels; I'm talking about what I think I see by watching games, and what I've come to expect which I never used to.) And I'd offer this even further: Where I think the improvement is most clear is (a) outfield catches, and (b) scoops at first base. Nowadays, if a ball is lined into the outfield gap and we figure 'maybe' there's a chance for the outfielder to get it with a good jump and a leap or dive, it used to be that he wouldn't get it 90% of the time. It seems to me that now they get it a good half of the time. (Obviously the data on this would depend on where we draw the lines on what kinds of hit balls we're talking about, but OK, forget the data -- my specific estimates aren't important.)My impression on scoops at first base is similar although somewhat lesser.

I realize that what I'm talking about would be much harder to pin down than what you looked at here, but what I'm saying is that I think what you're finding is the tip of an iceberg.
6:14 PM Aug 28th
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