Thursday, October 09, 2008

Hey Neukom! My Giants Business Plan: Team Built With Speed

Team speed was the way to win early in baseball's history because with the low scoring environment (and low HR environment), each run was that much more precious and leverageable into victories. Hence the glory of Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner in the early days of the 20th Century, the beginning of the modern era of the MLB. However, once the HR drug hit the public's veins, like any good addictive drug, it made the user crave for more.

And I will admit here that I am in love with the long ball too. I grew up with Bobby Bonds, Dave Kingman, Jack Clark being my main HR heroes, though Stretch casted his long shadow then too (and I also love the K too, John "The Count" Montefusco was an early fave of mine too).

BP Study on Success in the Playoffs

But as the BP study showed, no matter how much or how little HR a team hits or even runs it scores, it had very little bearing on the success the team had in the playoffs. There was no significant correlation. In fact, there was no signficant correlation with any offensive metric with success in the playoffs.

However, while that is true, BP did note that there was one offensive stat that had at least a sizeable enough correction for them to note, though not at a statistically significant level: stolen base attempts. Yes, not speed score (which they tried) but stolen base attempts.

Would You Believe A "Team Built on Stealing Bases"?

So my title for this post is not quite precise enough, it is not enough to be built with speed (meaning, say, having a high speed score) but the players must be speedy enough and good enough base stealers to warrant the manager allowing them to make a lot of attempts to steal bases. Oddly enough, stolen base success was not linked to success, but stolen base attempts were. But just making all your slow guys pile up stolen base attempts obviously would not work, so I think the overarching benefit is having a lot of players who are capable of stealing bases successfully.

Giants Thoughts

I hate to bring this up again, but the team we should try to emulate is the D-gers of the 1960's, anchored by Koufax and Drysdale (Lincecum and Cain) in the starting rotation and Maury Wills on the offense, stealing bases and creating havoc on the base paths. They kept the runs allowed low and Wills provided octane to the tepid offense that was just enough offense to enable them to win a lot of games.

I don't know who our Maury Wills will be (originally, I was thinking Marcus Sanders), if ever, but we have a number of speedsters in place across the lineup possibly, so perhaps quantity over quality will do. Fred Lewis is the most obvious, as our current leadoff hitter, though he might be hitting 3rd next season. Other candidates include Emmanuel Burriss, Eugenio Velez, and Antoan Richardson. Or maybe, further down the system and into the future, the guy we got in the Durham trade, Darren Ford, Tyler Graham, Julio Izturis, Shane Jordan, Mike McBryde, and Nick Noonan. And, definitely in combination, no way we'll have a Wills-like base stealer but hopefully together as a unit.

In addition, with Pat Kelly as our firstbase coach and base running coach at the major league level, plus Bochy, who has utilized speed previously when at the Padres, the Giants seem to be set up to be a team that can and will run. And I don't think it is a coincidence that Randy Winn suddenly was able to avoid caught stealings, I think it was the addition of Kelly to the coaching staff that made a big difference. And while success was not one of the significant factors, obviously, if you are going to try a lot of stolen base attempts, the more successful you are in doing that, the better it is for your offense.

1 comment:

  1. I am pretty sure it is Roberto Kelly as 1B coach. They raved about how he would help Velez, but I may be wrong

    ReplyDelete

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