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How good were the 2014 St. Louis Cardinals at taking the extra base on a hit?

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On Sunday, we took a look at how good the 2014 St. Louis Cardinals were at stealing bases. At the risk of spoiling that post for those who have not yet read it, the Cardinals weren't very good at stealing bases last year. They had one of the lowest stolen-base totals in the majors and the second-worst stolen-base success rate in all of baseball. Luckily for the Cardinals, there's more to baserunning than just stealing bases.

A stolen base occurs without a ball in play. A stolen-base attempt occurs on the pitch and throw (if any) from the catcher to the fielder covering the bag. It's a fun play to behold, whether successful or not. The play is also easily isolated, making the stolen-base attempt and whether the attempt was successful or not easy to define and record.

Less thrilling but no less important is a baserunner taking the extra base on a ball in play. Going from first to third on a single gives a player's team a higher likelihood of plating a run just like a stolen base does. Dashing home from second on a single gives the team a run it might not have had with a less skilled baserunner. Taking the extra base is a skill that helps a team win just stealing bases, even if it isn't found on the backs of baseball cards.

How good were the Cardinals at taking the extra base on a hit last year? I put together a few charts using the baserunning stats on Baseball-Reference to give us an idea. When viewing them, please keep in mind that Baseball-Reference does not provide information on the circumstances when baserunners made an out, so the initial series of charts do no contain outs. This means that, for example, the totals from the column showing that a player advanced from first to second on a single (1B-S-2B) and the column showing how many times a player went from first to third on a single (1B-S-3B) will not add up to the total found in the column showing how many times a player was on first and a single was struck (1B-S) if the baserunner made an out at second or third on a hit. This is an unfortunate limitation of the data, and one that we will attempt to overcome tomorrow when looking at the Cardinals' overall baserunning performance in 2014.

I have excluded the Cardinals' individual pitchers from the chart, though their performance is included in the cumulative "STL" stats, which is the light red row in each table. I compared the Cardinals to the National League as a whole, which is found in the light blue "NL" row in each table.

Runner on First Base & the Batter Hits a Single

The following chart shows those instances when a Cardinals player was on first and the batter hit a single. This chart shows the totals plays on which a St. Louis baserunner went from first base to second on a single (1B-S-2B) and how many times he advanced to third base on a single (1B-S-3B). I have also calculated the percentage rate for going from first to second on a single (1B-S-2B%) and first to third (1B-S-3B%). The rows are sorted from highest 1B-S-3B% to lowest.

2014

1B-S

1B-S-2B

1B-S-2B%

1B-S-3B

1B-S-3B%

Ellis

3

1

33.33%

2

66.67%

Bourjos

14

6

57.14%

8

57.14%

Descalso

9

5

44.44%

4

44.44%

Craig

20

12

60.00%

8

40.00%

Pierzynski

5

3

60.00%

2

40.00%

Holliday

35

20

57.14%

13

37.14%

Wong

14

9

64.29%

5

35.71%

Jay

38

24

63.16

12

31.58%

Taveras

17

10

58.82%

5

29.41%

NL

4317

3048

70.60%

1209

28.01%

STL

311

222

71.38%

83

26.69%

Peralta

33

25

75.76%

8

24.24%

Carpenter

46

37

80.43%

9

19.57%

Adams

23

19

82.61%

4

17.39%

Molina

30

27

90.00%

3

10.00%

Cruz

3

3

100%

0

0%

Grichuk

4

4

100%

0

0%

Kozma

1

1

100%

0

0%

Going from first to second on a single is easy to do and thus a very common occurrence. In the NL overall, 70.60% of baserunners who started a play on first base advanced to second on a single by the batter. The Cardinals' rate was slightly higher than that, at 71.38%.

I wasn't surprised that the quite fast Peter Bourjos excelled at advancing from first to third on a single. The same goes for Kolten Wong. However, I was surprised that Bourjos was so much better than Wong on a rate basis and that Matt Holliday was a bit better than the Hawaiian.

It was a bit surprising to me, too, that Matt Carpenter was worse than Jhonny Peralta at going from first base to third on a single. After all, Peralta had been one of the worst baserunners in baseball entering 2014.

Runner on First Base & the Batter Hits a Double

This chart's columns are labeled similarly to the single-with-a-runner-on-first chart. There is a column for the number of times a player was on first and the batter hit a double (1B-D), another for the number of times the baserunner advanced to third on the double (1B-D-3B), the percentage share of times the baserunner advanced from first to third on a double (1B-D-3B%), the number of times the runner scored from first on a double (1-D-H), and the percentage share of that occurrence (1B-D-H%). The rows are organized from highest 1B-D-H% to lowest.

2014

1B-D

1B-D-3B

1B-D-3B%

1B-D-H

1B-D-H%

Jay

4

0

0%

4

100%

Bourjos

1

0

0%

1

100%

Cruz

1

0

0%

1

100%

Descalso

1

0

0%

1

100%

Grichuk

1

0

0%

1

100%

Wong

6

2

33.33%

4

66.67%

Holliday

18

6

33.33%

10

55.56%

Peralta

6

3

50.00%

3

50.00%

Taveras

4

2

50.00%

2

50.00%

Ellis

2

1

50.00%

1

50.00%

Kozma

2

1

50.00%

1

50.00%

STL

77

36

46.75%

38

49.35%

NL

1175

652

55.49%

487

41.45%

Carpenter

10

5

50.00%

4

40.00%

Adams

6

4

66.67%

2

33.33%

Molina

3

2

66.67%

1

33.33%

Garcia

1

1

100%

0

0%

Craig

6

6

100%

0

0%

Players hit a lot fewer doubles with a runner on first than they do singles. In MLB overall, with a runner on first, a player rapped out a single 4,317 times and a double just 1,175 times. For the Cardinals, a light-hitting club, there was an even bigger gap: 311 singles compared to 77 doubles. That being said, the Cards did a better job than the NL as a whole at advanced from first to home on a double.

Some other observations about the Cards:

  • The player with the most opportunities and the most first-to-home advancements was Holliday.
  • Jon Jay scampered home on every single one of his chances to do so when a teammate barreled a double with him starting the play on first.
  • Not surprisingly, Wong was well above average at scoring from first on a double.
  • Equally unsurprising, Yadier Molina was not.
  • Carpenter was roughly league-average at crossing home safely in this situation, a bit ahead of Matt Adams.

Runner on Second Base & the Batter Hits a Single

By now, you can probably guess how the columns are labeled for this chart. Nonetheless, I'll provide you with a key:

  • 2B-S: Number of times a runner was on second base and a single was hit.
  • 2B-S-3B: Number of times the runner advanced from second base to third on a single.
  • 2B-S-3B%: The percentage share of times a runner went from second base to third on a single out of the number of times he was on second and a single was struck.
  • 2B-S-H: Raw number of times a baserunner started a play on second base and scored on a single.
  • 2B-S-H%: Share of times a baserunner scored from second base on a single.

The rows are listed from highest 2B-S-H% to the lowest.

2014

2B-S

2B-S-3B

2B-S-3B%

2B-S-H

2B-S-H%

Bourjos

3

0

0%

3

100%

Robinson

2

0

0%

2

100%

Jay

19

5

26.32%

14

73.68%

Molina

11

2

18.18%

8

72.73%

Wong

14

4

28.57%

10

71.43%

Ellis

7

2

28.57%

5

71.43%

Descalso

6

2

33.33%

4

66.67%

Holliday

19

6

31.58%

12

63.16%

NL

2582

946

36.64%

1529

59.22%

STL

181

72

39.78%

102

56.35%

Peralta

20

8

40.00%

10

50.00%

Adams

18

9

50.00%

9

50.00%

Pierzynski

2

1

50.00%

1

50.00%

Carpenter

30

15

50.00%

14

46.67%

Cruz

5

3

60.00%

2

40.00%

Taveras

5

3

60.00%

2

40.00%

Craig

9

4

44.44%

3

33.33%

Scruggs

1

1

100%

0

0%

Grichuk

1

1

100%

0

0%

Kozma

1

1

100%

0

0%

The Cardinals were below the NL average at scoring from second on a single, something that probably didn't help their power-light offense.

  • Yadi's high 2014 rate of galloping home from second base on a single is fun. His 72.73% (on 11 opportunities) was well above the NL collective rate last year. It was also far superior to his career 2B-S-H% of 41.7%, so don't expect the same results in 2015. Molina's 2014 2B-S-H% offers us our postly reminder to take a small-sample-size grain of salt when it comes to reaching conclusions about true talent.
  • Jay is good at scoring from second on a single. He did so 73.68% of the time last year and has done so a tad more than 78% of the time in his career. When it comes to true talent, I think it's safe to say that Jay has a skill for safely reaching home from second on a single.
  • Bourjos and Wong are fast, but you knew that already.
  • Holliday is once again above average.

Extra Base Taken Rate (XBT%), Bases Taken (BT) & Outs on Base (OOB)

While there are limits on the baserunning information Baseball-Reference provides, there are three additional stats I'd like to share. I've combined them into one chart even though they aren't necessarily that compatible.

  • Extra Base Taken Rate (XBT%) is defined on B-R as the percentage of time a runner advanced more than one base on a single or more than two bases on a double.
  • Bases Taken (BT) is the raw total of bases taken on fly balls, passed balls, wild pitches, balks, and defensive indifference.
  • Outs on Base (OOB) measures the outs a baserunner made while making a baserunning play, ranging from getting doubled off on a lineout to being thrown out attempting to take the extra base.
The chart I've put together has the NL team average for the various OOB categories (there's one for each base). That's not a very useful point of comparison for the individual Cardinals players, but it is a nice contrast for St. Louis collectively. The chart is sorted from highest XBT% to lowest.

2014

XBT%

BT

OOB-1B

OOB-2B

OOB-3B

OOB-H

Total OOB

Robinson

100%

3

0

0

0

0

0

Bourjos

67%

7

0

1

0

0

1

Ellis

67%

5

0

0

1

0

1

Wong

56%

7

0

0

2

0

2

Descalso

56%

3

0

0

0

0

0

Jay

49%

11

3

3

2

1

9

Holliday

49%

17

0

3

2

3

8

NL Avg.

40%

137

9

15

13

18

54

STL

39%

125

11

17

15

21

64

Pierzynski

38%

1

0

0

0

0

0

Peralta

36%

14

3

2

0

3

8

Taveras

35%

4

1

0

2

1

4

Cruz

33%

4

0

0

0

0

0

Adams

32%

14

0

1

3

3

7

Carpenter

31%

10

2

4

1

3

10

Craig

31%

10

1

0

0

2

10

Molina

27%

11

0

1

0

3

4

Kozma

25%

0

0

0

0

0

0

Grichuk

17%

2

1

0

1

0

2

Garcia

0%

0

0

0

0

1

1


Given the stats above relating to advancing on singles and doubles, it's not surprising that Bourjos, Wong, Ellis, Holliday, Jay, Descalso, and Robinson are above average in XBT%. But given the poor XBT% of other Cardinals, it's no surprise to see the club's collective rate a touch below the NL average for 2014.

Looking elsewhere, the Cardinals ten more outs on the bases than the average NL club, and that higher-than-average total is spread out pretty evenly among the four bases. The Cardinals' 64 total OOB was the third-most in the league.

Further, St. Louis also took ten fewer bases than average per BT. The Cards' 125 BT were the third-lowest in the NL.

As a whole, the Cardinals weren't particularly good at taking the extra base in 2014.