Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/17/14
Mlb-all-star-futures-game
Prior to the 2012 regular season, Mike Trout and Jesus Montero would’ve been considered leading contenders for the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Both Trout and Montero were top prospects, and Trout was staring at some regular outfield playing time while Montero was looking to catch and hit designatedly in Seattle. Trout eventually won the award, turning in an all-time great season. Montero did not win the award, and his season, while not disastrous, was closer to being a disaster than to being magnificent. Trout didn’t beat out Montero because of his baserunning — he beat out Montero because of everything — but, my goodness, the baserunning. The differences in baserunning. Baserunning is sort of WAR’s forgotten component. For position players, obviously, everybody’s aware of offense, and everybody’s aware of defensive position. The big controversy surrounds the defensive measurement, and UZR is why some people don’t pick up what WAR is putting down. WAR also includes baserunning, and most people don’t talk about it. It’s just there, making a small difference, or no difference. How important could baserunning be? Absolutely, baserunning is limited in spread. Last year, there were 143 qualified position players. Baserunning values are shown on the FanGraphs leaderboards and player pages. Evened out to BsR per 600 plate appearances, 117 of those players finished between -5 and +5 runs contributed. With such little spread, it makes sense why baserunning gets so little attention. But there are extremes, and they’re worth looking at. By BsR/600, last year’s most valuable baserunner was Mike Trout. By BsR/600, last year’s least valuable baserunner was Jesus Montero. By BsR/600, the difference between Trout and Montero would’ve been about two wins. Trout shows up at +11.3 runs per 600 plate appearances, three runs higher than anyone else. Montero shows up at -7.3, for a separation of 18.6 runs. Let’s put this in terms of hitting per 600 plate appearances. By hitting value, in 2012, Cody Ross shows up at +10.8 runs. Ben Revere shows up at -7.1. Most of the time, baserunning doesn’t make a big difference. Some of the time, baserunning can make an enormous difference. Which can sometimes be hard to wrap your head around. I think one of the reasons a lot of people are underrating Michael Bourn right now is because a lot of his value comes from his baserunning. A lot of sluggers lose value on the bases, but that lost value isn’t as obvious as the value gained from going deep. Baserunning is generally a quiet part of the game, but to help show how it can matter, I thought it would be fun to put Trout and Montero’s baserunning side by side. We see their calculated baserunning values. Where did those values come from? What does this all mean in terms of bases gained? We’ll begin with representative .gifs: Those Trout .gifs came just pitches apart in the same half-inning. The Montero .gif doesn’t make any sense. I don’t understand how Jesus Montero gets picked off. Jesus Montero got picked off! Let’s get into more detail. The most obvious component of baserunning value is stolen-base attempts. Some people think of them as being one and the same. Those people forget about the rest of the things one can do on the bases. Last season, Montero stole zero bases, and was caught stealing twice. He’s not a burner. Trout stole 49 bases, and was caught stealing five times. He was 43/47 stealing second, and 6/7 stealing third. Somehow he never stole home, which Bryce Harper did, so it should go without saying that Bryce Harper > Mike Trout. But now we can advance beyond base-stealing. Not counting pick-offs and caught-steals, Montero made six outs on the bases, while Trout made twice as many. That’s bad, for Trout! But there’s so much more. Let’s put this in list form. Advances from 1st to 3rd on singles: Montero: 3 times, out of 22 opportunities Trout: 28 times, out of 45 opportunities Advances from 1st to home on doubles: Montero: once, out of four opportunities Trout: seven times, out of 11 opportunities Advances from 2nd to home on singles: Montero: four times, out of 11 opportunities Trout: 20 times, out of 29 opportunities Montero was thrown out at home twice trying to score from second on singles. Trout was never thrown out advancing on a hit. If you prefer a very rough measure, Jesus Montero scored 21% of the time that he reached base. Trout scored 44% of the time that he reached base. That has a lot to do with the hitters coming up in the order, but that also has a lot to do with legs. Trout was easier to drive in, because Trout has the ability to move himself. Look at those Trout .gifs above. On July 5, in the bottom of the sixth, Trout reached on a walk. A few pitches later, he stole second, and a few pitches after that, he stole third. On a throwing error, he came home. Trout wasn’t 100% responsible for that run, but he basically created it himself. Several times over the course of the year did Trout help the Angels to manufacture a run by moving up or taking the extra base. Jesus Montero’s running was such that the Mariners have asked him to work out with a running coach this offseason. Jesus Montero is a 23-year-old, high-level, professional athlete, and he doesn’t know how to run right. It cost his team in 2012, and it’ll probably continue to cost his teams over the rest of his career. There usually isn’t anything surprising about the list of best and worst baserunners. You know who’s fast, you know who’s slow, and typically that’s the driving factor. The fast guys often have to be fast, because they don’t hit the crap out of the ball. The slow guys often don’t have to be fast, because they hit the crap out of the ball. Baserunning is only a small part of total value. But it is a part, and sometimes it can make an enormous difference. Plenty of things separated Mike Trout’s performance from Jesus Montero’s performance in 2012, but the baserunning separation was not insignificant. Given a more detailed idea of how those extra bases are taken or not taken, maybe you’ll think more about baserunning next time you find yourself messing with WAR. There are a lot of opportunities to gain on the basepaths, and those little opportunities add up, as they do.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Kentucky remains unbeaten after thrilling win over ND

Alabama DT arrested on domestic violence charges again

John Calipari blasted for postgame interview

WATCH: MJ, Tom Brady play pickup game in Bahamas

WATCH: Wrong national anthem played for El Salvador

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

WATCH: Russell Wilson smashes HR in Rangers BP

John Fox: Jay Cutler will have to earn starting QB job

Report: Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall candidates for Texas

Kurt Warner is helping to turn around Colin Kaepernick

Bizarre call allows Duke to cover spread against Utah

Saints love TE Josh Hill following Jimmy Graham trade

Sam Dekker's hot shooting sends Wisconsin to Final Four

Jim McElwain complains about Florida roster

Mark Few: I put Coach K up there with John Wooden

WATCH: Enes Kanter embraces boos in return to Utah

Mariners prospect dies from boat accident injuries

T.J. Ford sends heartfelt tweet about Rick Barnes

Bruins coach suits up as backup goalie

Tennessee fans show love for Bruce Pearl on campus rock

Louisville guard turned off phone after clutch NC State win

Steve Spurrier hung out with Kenny Chesney before concert

Winnipeg Jets prospect had a rough night on the ice

Did Dean Smith’s gifts to former players violate NCAA rules?

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

John Fox: Cutler will have to earn job

Texas eyeing Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall?

WATCH: Brady jumps off cliff in Costa Rica

WATCH: 2 Chainz beats Nique in HORSE

Elite Eight preview and predictions: Notre Dame vs. Kentucky

Elite Eight preview and predictions: Arizona vs. Wisconsin

NFL owners chose cost over game integrity

Be careful how loudly you cheer on Mo'ne Davis' olive branch

James Harden and the collective consciousness

Hottest coaching seats in NBA

Under-the-radar NL MVP candidates

Notre Dame’s coach makes first Elite Eight

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.