The Best Baserunning Teams

July 7, 2017

As we approach the All-Star Break, let’s examine the best baserunning teams so far this season. We will do so using Net Gain—a statistic created by Bill James that measures baserunning by looking at advancements on hits and outs in addition to stolen bases.

Here are the best baserunning teams thus far:

Team Net Gain
Arizona Diamondbacks 78
Texas Rangers 62
Minnesota Twins 50
San Francisco Giants 47
Milwaukee Brewers 37
Los Angeles Dodgers 36
Colorado Rockies 30
Kansas City Royals 30
Tampa Bay Rays 28
Cleveland Indians 27


The Diamondbacks are ranked as the best baserunners in baseball. As Ben Lindbergh pointed out a few weeks ago, the bulk of their success on the basepaths this season hasn’t come from stolen bases. While still respectably tied for 8th in Stolen Bases Gained (after finishing 1st in 2016), their triumph comes from their ability to advance on hits and outs. They rank first in their overall advancement percentage as the only team that has advanced on over 50 percent of its opportunities (50.9 percent) and trail only the Twins in avoiding double plays. The Diamondbacks have hit into double plays on only 49 out of 548 opportunities (8.9 percent). They have also made the fewest outs due to their baserunning with only 11.

In second place are the Texas Rangers who finished 16th last season. They lead the league in Bases Taken—plays in which a baserunner moves up a base on a Wild Pitch, Passed Ball, Balk, Sacrifice Fly, or Defensive Indifference—with 113. They have been powered by Delino DeShields who leads the league in Net Gain with 30. DeShields has yet to be involved in a double play—0 of 36 opportunities—and has advanced on 69.6 percent of his opportunities.

The best basestealing team is the Billy Hamilton-led Cincinnati Reds with 35 Stolen Bases Gained, 9 more than the second place Nationals and Royals. However, they only rank 14th overall in Net Gain due to their poor baserunning advancement. They have only advanced on 35.6 percent of their opportunities (4th worst in the league) and have only 67 Bases Taken (tied for 3rd worst in the league).


COMMENTS (6 Comments, most recent shown first)

I would assume that defensive indifference is evenly spread enough not to make it worth teasing out of situations where a throw or coverage weren't made for other reasons.
11:08 PM Jul 9th
I'm an Indians fan. In the last week Jose Ramirez, who is a fabulous player, has run into about five needless outs just by being too aggressive. I don't actually disagree with his style of baserunning that much, but he's pushing the point a bit. I just thought I'd mention that.
10:21 PM Jul 7th
The D'backs web site doesn't list a baserunning coach. Whoever it is, he should be in for a big raise next season.
5:46 PM Jul 7th
And who are the worst?
4:01 PM Jul 7th
I wouldn't imagine it happens all that often, but it seems odd to me to credit a team for a base gained on "defensive indifference" -- a situation where the defense literally does not care whether the runner takes the base or not.
11:25 AM Jul 7th
Does this analysis control in any way for the ballpark? I would expect more extra bases to be taken if outfielders have more territory to cover.
6:54 AM Jul 7th
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