Baseball researchers called Sabermetricians take some heat for discouraging the stolen base. That's not quite fair. Sabermetricians like the stolen base, they just hate the caught stealing. They encourage stealing above the break-even level.
As it turns out, managers find this level automatically. Run expectancy charts from George Lindsey representing the 1959 and 1960 seasons shows a break-even point of 60 percent for the above situation. Pete Palmer, in "The Hidden Game of Baseball," published in 1984, showed a break-even point of 67 percent. Note that those two numbers almost exactly match the major league's stolen base percentage of those eras.
Sabermetricians discovered what baseball figured out intuitively.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
The Return of the Stolen Base
David Pinto analyzes the return of the stolen base. In the process he notes that baseball men are possessed of a certain wisdom that the sabermetrician types often overlook: