How Much Extra Does An Extra Base Really Mean?

From SABR member Sean Forman at on July 1:

Sabermetrics is largely about measuring what leads to winning on the baseball field. Naturally, this first leads to studying the parts of the game that have a big impact on any outcome, batting and pitching. And if you asked front offices and leading sabermetricians who the best pitchers and hitters are, they would probably name many of the same players.

But if you asked them to rank the top base runners, their lists would likely diverge. Some runners are cautious and rarely make an out on the bases, while others try to take the extra base at every opportunity, and sometimes pay the price. Some are able to read balls in the dirt exceptionally well and advance routinely on wild pitches and passed balls. Others can’t.


The use of play-by-play data stretching back to the 1950s, thanks to the work of RetroSheet volunteers, means we can now quantify the value of other base-running events, such as the number of times a runner goes from first to third on a hit, is thrown out trying to take an extra base or advances on defensive indifference or a passed ball.

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Originally published: July 2, 2011. Last Updated: July 2, 2011.