The Best and Worst Baserunners in 2014

July 19, 2014

We are in the middle of a very exciting year of baserunning. Last season, Jacoby Ellsbury was the only player with at least 50 stolen bases for the season (he had 52). This season, Dee Gordon (43), Jose Altuve (41), and Billy Hamilton (38) are on pace to easily fly by his total.

Bill James created a comprehensive statistic to measure baserunning called Net Gain that includes both stolen bases and advancements on hits and outs. Gordon and Altuve are both in the top five of the Net Gain leaderboard, but another player sits in the top spot:

Best Baserunners in 2014
Player Net Gain
Ben Revere +35
Dee Gordon +31
Hunter Pence +28
Jose Altuve +28
Jayson Werth +27


Ben Revere is actually fourth in baseball with 26 steals this season. That total is significantly lower than the three players in front of him, but Revere stands out in other aspects of baserunning. Specifically, he has taken an extra base in 18 of his 31 opportunities, 13th-best among players with at least 30 opportunities. Meanwhile Revere has only been thrown out once in those situations on the basepaths, which is another key element that Net Gain measures. Gordon and Altuve have been thrown out on advancement opportunities four and three times, respectively.

Billy Hamilton falls short of the top five with +23 Net Gain, which is actually 11th in baseball. Last season, Hamilton seemed uncatchable with just 1 caught stealing against 13 stolen bases. This year, he has been caught 15 times against just 38 stolen bases. That 72 percent success rate is actually lower than the league rate of 73 percent.

Meanwhile, here are the worst baserunners in Net Gain so far this season:

Worst Baserunners in 2014
Player Net Gain
Victor Martinez -24
Brandon Phillips -22
Alex Avila -22
Billy Butler -20
Albert Pujols -20

Collectively, these five runners have a surprising seven stolen bases this season. Pujols leads the way with four of them. However, they also have been caught nine times. In addition, they have all struggled in advancement situations. In particular, Butler (6 percent) and Martinez (12 percent) have abysmal advancement rates.

Phillips is the most surprising name on the list, but his baserunning decline started in 2013. In 2012, Phillips had +20 Net Gain with 15 steals and just one baserunning out. Last season, he declined to +6 Net Gain, five steals, and six baserunning outs. Meanwhile, he already has six baserunning outs at the halfway point this season and only one steal to his credit.


COMMENTS (2 Comments, most recent shown first)

Jose Reyes is a terrible base runner, makes bad decisions, he must get thrown on the bases about 10 times this season, mostly for no good reason.
In a game about a week ago, he hit a pop fly down the right field line, Jose rounded 1B like he had hit a ball in the gap, only to realize too late that the right fielder had caught the ball on one hop and was almost as close to 1B as Reyes was, he was out by 6 feet, trying to get back to 1B. He does this constantly, I guess he is a good base stealer, but a baserunner, bad, bad, bad.
2:48 AM Jul 25th
I'm surprised Ortiz didn't make the worst baserunner list. He's having more and more trouble stretching flyballs off the monster into doubles.
6:05 PM Jul 19th
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