Palmer: Does the hit-and-run help?

From SABR member Pete Palmer at Baseball Prospectus on July 10, 2012:

Major League Baseball has been keeping records for the runner going on the pitch back to 2004, so we now have eight solid years of reasonably accurate data. I decided to study this information in order to evaluate the hit and run play. One problem is that the runner is nearly always also going with the pitch on a straight steal, so I deemed any case where the batter did not swing to be a stolen base attempt.

The most common situation to attempt a hit and run was of course with a runner on first only, about eight percent of the time. It was tried about four percent with runners on first and third and less than one percent in all other situations. This does not include situations with a 3-2 count. With two outs, the play is automatic, virtually one hundred percent, as there is nothing to lose. With less than two out, the runner goes about 55 percent of the time. The analysis below looks at just the runner on first situation, with the 3-2 count cases broken out. It covers all games from 2004 through 2011.

Overall, the hit and run play dramatically increased the probability of advancing an extra base on a hit and also avoiding grounded into double plays. The batter himself got more hits but fewer homers and walks, so that part was neutral. There was an increase in line drive and other double plays. Batting performance was somewhat reduced if the play resulted in a foul, as the batter had an extra strike that might have been a ball if he was not forced to swing. On a missed swing, the runner stolen base success rate was lower than average. This is because the typical runner on a hit and run play is not as good a base stealer as the runner in a normal steal.

First, let’s look at runner advances.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: July 10, 2012. Last Updated: July 10, 2012.