Carleton: What is the opposite of a stolen base?

From Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus on February 26, 2020:

This started out—like a lot of my stuff—with a fairly simple question. One of the nice things about living in the StatCast era is we now have pretty good measures of things at which we used to have to guess. A couple of decades ago (seriously) I was trying to put together a good indicator for how fast a player was. At the time, we had to infer speed based on things like how many bases a player stole or how many doubles he stretched into triples. Now, we have cameras in all the ballparks that can actually measure how much space a player covered over a given amount of time, which is the actual definition of speed.

I wondered whether any of those old metrics we used to rely on were actually measuring speed. After all, baseball does involve a lot of running, and if you’re a faster runner, you’re going to be able to get to the next base faster, and we do have good databases on bases. Of course, the process of getting to the answer to that question—and I promise I will answer it—turned out to be more telling than I thought it might be.

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Originally published: February 26, 2020. Last Updated: February 26, 2020.