Perhaps the esteemed writers on this site are not in need of offseason article ideas, but if you are...
The recent article about the 1982 draft got me thinking about Vince Coleman and the dissonance between his statistical measurements and the eye-test. Most analytics don't rate him very well overall. A bit of good defense and the stolen base totals sometimes were enough to get him slightly above replacement level. Yet, people who saw him during the peak Cardinal years would swear he was a bigger factor on the game than the statistics suggest. Perhaps there is not a good statistic for measuring the impact of stolen base prowess on a game (perhaps there is and I am unaware of it). But there are some avenues that could be explored that might produce such a stat.
I am not a statistician. I don't know how to use the databases. But I enjoy when people who do know use them cleverly. The idea is to come up with a statistic that accurately accounts for all the measurables that can be thought of and gives truer credit to the value a base stealer brings to wins. Maybe one of our writers would like to take something like this on.
Here are some factors that might be worth exploring (I am sure there are others, if anyone has ideas on this, post them in the comments).
When an elite stolen base threat is on base, how does it affect the pitch selection (and perhaps the velocity of those pitches) for the subsequent batters? How does it affect the average number of pitches to those batters?
How does it affect pitch framing (I know this doesn't go bak to VC, but as a future stat variable)?
What is the opponent error average with a thief on base vs. not?
What are the subsequent batters outcome averages (and BABIP) against their at bats without a base stealer on base?
Is there a difference in effect between an elite base stealer, and a good base stealer? In other words, can an scaled affect be observed based on likelihood of a reasonable steal attempt.
Can the stress caused on a pitcher by a thief be measured by comparing average number of batters faced with and without base stealers getting on base during the course of a game?
If it is possible to come up with a stat that better reveals the value of a base stealer, perhaps, if that value was revealed to be positive, it would inspire teams to invest in and develop base-stealers again. Baseball is better when bases are being stolen, so I hope that the impact can be measured. And I hope that the result is that base stealing is more valuable than recent statistics have suggested.