Twins Baserunning Revisited: Five Things You May Not Know

Over the past few weeks, the Twins baserunning has gotten a lot of focus from reporters, bloggers and fans. From Denard Span's pickoffs to Scott Ullger's poor third base coaching decisions, it seems like everyone's said their piece. But has the baserunning really been that bad? Sure, we all remember the poor decisions and outs at home plate, but have the Twins made up for the outs with their aggressive approach on the base paths? Before last season, I wrote an article that took a "deeper look" at baserunning across the league, breaking down all aspects of baserunning, from stolen bases to outs on the base paths, into their impact on runs scored (or not scored). Because at the end of the day, runs is all the game comes down to.

With all the discussion lately about the Twins baserunning, I broke down the numbers for every Major League Baseball player to determine the total number of runs contributed on the base paths. After the jump, I'll show you five things you may not have known about the Twins runners.

  1. Orlando Hudson has been the best baserunner on the team.
  2. Denard Span hasn't been as bad as you think.
  3. Jason Kubel has been the worst baserunner in Major League Baseball.
  4. Losing the weight hasn't helped Delmon Young become a better baserunner.
  5. Jim Thome has even gotten in the act.

1. Orlando Hudson has been the best baserunner on the team

So far, on the 2010 season, Orlando Hudson has contributed a total of +5.1 runs on the base paths, best among all of the Twins. With 7 stolen bases in 10 attempts, Hudson actually nets a negative contribution, -0.6 runs through stolen base attempts. But he has been very good elsewhere on the base paths, taking a total of 57 extra bases (first to third on a single, scoring from first on a double). And he's been smart running the bases, making only 4 outs (outside of times caught stealing) on the season.

Joe Mauer (+3.9 runs) comes in second, and last year's best baserunner award went to Nick Punto (+5.2 runs), who vastly improved his running in 2009, making only a single out on the base paths. Of course, the ALDS playoffs aren't included in this total.

2. Denard Span hasn't been as bad as you think

Span's 18 stolen bases in 26 attempts looks good at first glance, but it comes out to a total of -1.6 runs contributed due to stolen base attempts. And Span has made 7 outs on the base paths, a number that includes pickoffs where he did not attempt to reach second. So between stolen bases and the outs, Span has cost the Twins a total of -6.1 runs, which is pretty bad. Why do I say he hasn't been as bad as you think? Because Denard has taken a team high 73 extra bases, good for 7th in the Majors (Elvis Andrus leads with 84) and contributing +5.9 runs once times "staying" on base (e.g., first to second on a single). Overall, Span rates slightly below average at -0.2 runs. Not good when you consider his speed, but better than you might think given all the outs. For comparison, Span was slightly above average in 2009, contributing +0.3 runs despite a combined 22 outs made running the bases.

3. Jason Kubel has been the worst baserunner in Major League Baseball

A lot of this may have to do with Scott Ullger's third base coaching, but Jason Kubel rates dead last in the Majors, costing the Twins a total of -7.6 runs on the base paths. Kubel isn't a base stealing threat, attempting (and failing) only one stolen base all year. But somehow he has managed to make 10 outs on the base paths, only Matt Holliday and Vladimir Guerrero have made more, with 11 apiece. And with only 28 extra bases on the season, staying the vast majority of the time (71 times) To compare, Mauer has taken the extra base 59 times and stayed 75 times, making only two outs.

4. Losing the weight hasn't helped Delmon Young become a better base runner

Last season, Delmon Young cost the Twins a total of -1.7 runs on the base paths. This season, Delmon rates at -2.1 runs. Not one who attempts to steal many bases, with a total of 15 attempts and only 6 successful steals, I'm glad he doesn't try very often. Young has been a bit more aggressive this year, with 38 extra bases compared to 37 all of last year, but he's been thrown out more often, 6 times in 2010 versus 4 times in 2009.

5. Jim Thome has even gotten in the act

No one expects much from Thome on the base paths. Heck, at times it appears he's lucky to make it from first to second on a gapper to right center. Last season in Chicago, Thome was one of the worst baserunners in the Majors, costing the White Sox a total of -7.8 runs. This year, he's been much better, costing the Twins only -2.0 runs. While this is partially explained by fewer plate appearances (277 this season versus 413 last year), he has also been twice as likely to go for the extra base (12-30 extra bases - stays this year versus 16-65 last year) and made fewer outs (2 vs 6).

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