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Breakthrough Study: Getting Caught Stealing Somewhat Disadvantageous

I spent my LAST DAY OF FREEDOM sleeping, getting a haircut, watching the Papal mass at Yankee Stadium, and, yes, running some numbers for one of my ridiculous brainstorms in which I make an effort to figure shit out as it relates to sports.

This one was pretty easy to do, as I simply wanted to gauge the value added by high-level base stealers (for this “experiment” I defined such a player as anyone who had 20+ swipes for the 2007 season and anyone who had multiple thefts for the 2008 set) with successful steals relative to the value they may cost their team by getting caught stealing. To do this, I modified their batting averages, on-base percentages and, most importantly in terms of this experiment (just my opinion), their slugging percentages.

As the old saying goes, you can’t steal first base, so really, any adjustment to a player’s on-base percentage or batting average as a stand-alone statistic would be negative. “That’s the point!” you may say. And to some extent you’d be correct. Still, I don’t feel it would be worth it to focus on either of these statistics individually — particularly batting average, which I threw out altogether — when they’re modified by stolen base data.

To me, it makes a lot more sense to focus on modifying a player’s slugging percentage to reflect his swipes and/or caught stealings because the stolen base aims to accomplish what a double, triple or less frequently a home run would have otherwise accomplished.

With all of this in mind, I quickly plugged some statistics from the 2007 season into an Excel spreadsheet and modified the traditional measurements for on-base percentage and slugging percentage to try to figure out which Major Leaguers benefited the most (and least) from stealing a year ago.

To accomplish this, I used the following formulas:

Adjusted On-Base Percentage
([Hits – Caught Stealing] + Walks + Hit By Pitches)/(At-Bats + Walks + Hit By Pitches + Sacrifice Flies)

Adjusted Slugging Percentage
([Hits – Caught Stealing] + Total Bases + Stolen Bases) / At-Bats

Full results here.

UPDATE: The dude who we found to consistently get the most value out of his base-stealing was apparently designated for assignment while we were compiling the numbers. Awesome.

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