Ultimate Base Running: Red Sox

This morning, Fangaphs unveiled another addition to their statistical database: Ultimate Base Running. You can read the story behind that stat here. While this another interesting tool to use when evaluating player performance, much like using UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) to rate defense, it probably shouldn’t be taken as the end-all in conversations about base running. Keeping in mind that UBR is a cumulative stat, lets take a look at how the Red Sox offensive players seem to be doing on the base paths…

Dustin Pedroia: 1.3 UBR, 0.6 career UBR – The 0.6 career mark comes from negative ratings back in 2006 and 2007, but Pedroia has posted a 1.3 or better UBR in every healthy season (last year he posted a -0.3).

Jacoby Ellsbury: 0.7 UBR, 3.7 career UBR – This stat seems to be particularly important to Ellsbury, the Sox leadoff hitter. His best season baserunning wise, according to this stat, was 2008 (4.1 UBR), which was followed by a negative value in 2009 (-1.5).

Jed Lowrie: 0.5 UBR, -0.8 career UBR – It’s hard to judge Lowire based on this stat simply because of the small bits of “here-and-there” sample sizes so far in his career. Given his pedegree, I’d expect him to post a very positive number overall this season.

Mike Cameron: 0.3 UBR, 18.5 career UBR – Much like UZR shows Cameron as being a very good defensive player over his career, UBR shows him as being a positive baserunner as well. No surprises here.

Kevin Youkilis: 0.1 UBR, 3 career UBR – One doesn’t associate Youk with speed, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad baserunner. On the contrary, UBR suggests that Youk has been an above average baserunner pretty much his whole career.

Marco Scutaro: -0.4 UBR, 6.5 career UBR – Earlier in his career, Scutaro’s playing time was a bit sporadic, but after becoming a full-time player with the Jays back in 2008, his game as a whole started to take off. Not only did he show more patience at the plate, but UBR suggests that his baserunning also improved. He posted a 3.3 UBR last season for the Sox.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia: -0.4 UBR, -2.6 career UBR – Sample sizes are a bit small for Salty, but I don’t think anyone would argue that he’s especially good with his baserunning overall.

Carl Crawford: -0.7 UBR, 20.3 career UBR – Just another sign of Crawford’s unexpected struggles with the Sox. He posted a 6.1 UBR with the Rays last season and hasn’t posted a negative UBR since 2003. I can’t wait until his game gets back to form.

Jason Varitek: -0.9 UBR, -20.2 career UBR – He’s a great capitan.

J.D. Drew: -1.8 UBR, 10.9 career UBR – Perhaps yet another sign of Drew’s decline. Much as he has been an underrated defensive player (and underrated overall), Drew has always been a very good baserunner, but he’s clearly not off to a good start this season.

Adrian Gonzalez: -2.1 UBR, -12.8 career UBR – As long as he keeps mashing, which he will, no one will mind the fact that he’s not great on the basepaths.

David Ortiz: -2.8 UBR, -40.5 career UBR – What a hitter!

What are your thoughts on UBR with regard to the Sox?

Categories: Boston Red Sox

Charlie first started writing about baseball back in 2008 when he opened Fantasy Baseball 365. Since graduating college with a degree in English, he has spent time coaching baseball as well as working in several minor league front offices. He also writes for The Outside Corner and contributes to Project Prospect and ESPN's Sweet Spot. Writer from August 3, 2010 - May 6, 2012

3 Responses to “Ultimate Base Running: Red Sox” Subscribe

  1. Jettaswallows May 24, 2011 at 12:34 PM #

    With Pedroia struggling as of late and his momentary loss of feeling in his leg last night wouldn't it make sense to slow him down a bit i.e. put him in the 8 slot in the order for a bit while Crawford has been hitting great as of late? Hopefully this is what Francona needs to make a change in the lineup since he is ever so slow to make any changes in his lineup.

  2. TroyPatterson May 24, 2011 at 1:07 PM #

    I need to look at the data, but I wonder how variable this is. Is it as random as UZR and as such does it need 2-3 years to establish a skill level? Basically how many games or PA before a skill level is established.

    I don't think it will ever radically change a players value, but it really is an interesting valuation.

  3. John C May 27, 2011 at 10:30 AM #

    I don't care how badly A-Gon and Papi run the bases as long as they keep hitting like they do. Other than the catchers, it looks like everyone else does a good job, even if some of them are a little off so far this year.