Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Running Game

Brady WilliamsIn light of the recent discussion of Manager Brady Williams' promotion to Bowling Green from Hudson Valley and his (over?) use of the running game, I thought we should take a look at some stats.

Here are the Rays US affiliates and their leagues stolen bases, caught stealings, attempts (SB+CS) per game, and stolen base success percentage. The team and league with the highest and lowest rates/percentages are in bold.

                           SB/G     CS/G     Att/G      SB%
Durham Bulls .819 .361 1.181 69.4%
International League .737 .291 1.028 71.7%
Montgomery Biscuits .935 .295 1.230 76.0%
Southern League .762 .368 1.130 67.4%
Charlotte Stone Crabs 1.066 .496 1.562 68.2%
Florida State League .926 .404 1.330 69.6%
Bowling Green Hot Rods .717 .420 1.138 63.1%
South Atlantic League .978 .434 1.412 69.3%
Hudson Valley Renegades 1.787 .747 2.533 70.5%
New York - Penn League .958 .400 1.359 70.5%
Princeton Rays 1.104 .448 1.552 71.1%
Appalachian League 1.067 .500 1.567 68.1%
GCL Rays .945 .454 1.400 67.5%
Gulf Coast League 1.062 .465 1.526 69.6%

A few things to keep in mind:

- 2009 was Williams first season as a Manager. Prior to that he was a coach at Vero Beach in 2008, Columbus in 2007, and Southwest Michigan in 2006.
- Managers evolve over time. Williams aggressive approach on the basepaths in 2009 may be totally different by the time he reaches the AA or AAA levels.
- Managers strategies are dependent on the skills of their players. If you have a Fernando Perez and a Desmond Jennings, you will tend to have a 'running team'.
- Minor league baseball is about player development, especially at the lower levels. Winning is great, but development is the goal. We don't know whether Hudson Valley's high numbers are a result of Williams' philosophy or the organization's directive.
- These numbers could be skewed a bit by botched hit-and-runs. Without going through the play-by-play of 10,000 games, I can't adjust for that. Just keep it in mind.



  1. Doug - awesome research. This is turning out to be a most interesting topic and I am shocked by the numbers frankly. Brady Williams it appears was the most aggresive manager in ALL of professional baseball last year by almost a 2 to 1 margin in attempts per game. Some thoughts...

    His 70% mark of success is right there in what appears to be about the median so it does not appear that he was imprudent when he gave guys the green light.

    It seems 3 things would influence this discrepancy - organizational philosophy, the talent on the team, and the manager's personal style. I know they had many college players last year comlimented by guys who had been in the minors for several years. Thus you had some experience in the base running department. Moreover, you had guys who could actually steal a base. Murill and Bortnick were in the top 4 in the league. DJ Jones had good speed, Nommenson stole a decent amount, Gabe Cohen had some speed along with Bennet Davis. An interesting thing with Hudson Valley was they had their catchers and first baseman stealing bases where Mark Thomas, Eli Sonoqui, and David Genao all stole bases. Many of those seemed to catch teams by surpise but were still successful for the most part.

    From looking at all these numbers, it looks to me that you had a young manager who wanted to make a name for himself. The success rate seems to justify much of the running and it appears the parent club did nothing to discourage the practice which is their right to do. It's possible Brady felt he had speed from the beginning and was given permission for figure out how much.

    Pedictions for next year:

    Bowling Green will lead minor league baseball in stolen bases.

    Hudson Valley's numbers will go down unless they get another crop of guys who can steal and/or their manager is encouraged by the parent club to continue the tradition started by Williams. My hunch is their attempts will drop by at least one steal per game.

    Interesting stuff and thanks for posting.

  2. Thanks Daniel, I only did the teams/leagues the Rays are in, so I cannot confirm the 'all of professional baseball' part.

    Took a long time to do all of the math, glad you enjoyed. Brady certainly seems to be on his way up, so I look forward to see how he manages next year.

    I'm honestly not sure how I feel about it, aggressiveness, good or bad? Doesn't hurt to try it, but could lose affilliate games, which I don't like. Balancing act I guess.

    As Daniel says, expect a lot of running next year at Bowling Green.

  3. I agree he definetly had some speed on the team but attempts by Sonoqui,and Genao to score from second were ill advised. I wish him well in his promotion.