23 October 2011
Coming into the 2011 season, the big question was how would the Diamondbacks' offense perform without slugging infielders Adam LaRoche and Mark Reynolds? They were expected to be replaced by Juan Miranda and Melvin Mora, which seemed like a certain downgrade from 2010. But the offensive results were much better than expected, partly due to strong seasons from Justin Upton and Miguel Montero as well as breakouts from Ryan Roberts and Gerardo Parra. Overall, the team ended up scoring 18 more runs in 2011 than in 2010, even though offense around the league was down significantly. How did this happen? It turns out that the answer is probably not because of better clutch hitting, fewer strikeouts, or more productive outs. The team scored more runs in 2011 because of better baserunning.
|2011||4.51 (4th)||.250||.322||.413||99 (4th)||731||172||133/44||531||1249|
|2010||4.40 (8th)||.250||.325||.416||94 (7th)||713||180||86/41||589||1529|
So the Diamondbacks actually managed to score more runs despite a slightly lower OBP and SLG. Did they perhaps hit better in 2011 with Runners in Scoring Position?
|2011 - RISP||1565||488||.252||.346||.403||33||188||335|
|2010 - RISP||1601||512||.266||.356||.468||41||199||384|
Actually, the team hit significantly worse with Runners in Scoring Position in 2011 than in 2010, with an OPS almost .075 points lower. How about in At Bats with Runners on Base?
|Men On Base||PA||RBI||AVG||OBP||SLG||SF||BB||K|
|2011 - Men On||2259||602||.259||.340||.430||33||259||533|
|2010 - Men On||2334||593||.252||.335||.432||41||293||653|
Here, the numbers are pretty close, with the rate stats approximately the same between the two years. But it is interesting to see that the numbers of RBI in 2011 were 9 higher than in 2010 despite 75 fewer plate appearances. How did this happen? One reason was that the team did a better job of getting runners to 2nd and 3rd base in 2011. For example, #3 hitter Justin Upton had 277 Plate Appearances in 2011 with Runners on Base, compared to 272 in 2010. But a look at the distribution of those runners on base is quite different.
|PA with ROB||PA_ROB||R1||R2||R3|
|2011 - Justin Upton||277||173||124||63|
|2010 - Justin Upton||272||187||112||54|
Upton actually saw many more runners on 2nd and 3rd in 2011 than in 2010, even though the total number of baserunners was much closer. And this was true for the team as a whole - more runners on 3rd Base (Note that these numbers are the sum of the individual totals, which will not match up with the team totals, since multiple batters can come up with the same runner on base).
|Runners on Base||R1||R2||R3|
|2011 - Diamondbacks||1740||1216||635|
|2010 - Diamondbacks||1906||1292||577|
So how were the Diamondbacks getting more runners to 3rd Base in 2011? Could it be that the team was much better at the so-called "Productive Out", in which a player advances a baserunner while making an out? No, there really wasn't much difference between 2010 and 2011, despite the big drop in strikeouts.
|Productive Outs||ProdOut Opps||Prod Outs||Rate|
|2011 - Diamondbacks||559||148||26.48%|
|2010 - Diamondbacks||578||148||25.61%|
How about the baserunning? Although the team did have a lot of baserunners picked off and thrown out on the bases in 2011, the team's aggressive style did lead to more runs being scored. The table below shows the number of times the Diamondbacks hit a Single when there was a runner on 1st Base. In both 2010 and 2011, the team hit 254 singles with a Runner on 1st Base. But in 2011, that resulted in a 1st and 3rd situation 71 times (28%) instead of 54 times in 2010 (21%).
|Runner on 1st with Single||Total||1st and 2nd||1st and 3rd|
|2011 - Diamondbacks||254||175||71|
|2010 - Diamondbacks||254||193||54|
With a Runner on 2nd Base and a Single by the Batter, the team was much more likely to score (61%) than in 2010 (53%).
|Runner on 2nd with Single||Total||1st and 3rd||Runner Scores|
|2011 - Diamondbacks||160||51||98|
|2010 - Diamondbacks||162||71||86|
The same thing was true with a Runner on 1st Base when a Double was hit. The runner from 1st scored 46 times in 2011 (52%) compared to only 33 times (36%) in 2010.
|Runner on 1st with Double||Total||2nd and 3rd||Runner Scores|
|2011 - Diamondbacks||89||41||46|
|2010 - Diamondbacks||92||56||33|
Aside from the running of the bases, the team's aggressiveness also showed up in the Stolen Base categories.
|2011 - Diamondbacks||117||53||68.8%||16||2||88.9%|
|2010 - Diamondbacks||80||37||68.4%||6||3||66.7%|
The team didn't steal 2nd base at a better rate in 2011, but they did try it more often. The bigger difference was in stealing 3rd base, where the Diamondbacks were successful on 16 of 18 tries, led by Chris Young and Willie Bloomquist who were each 3 for 3.
Two more positives from the aggressive baserunning in 2011 - fewer Grounded into Double Plays and more Bases Taken. The Diamondbacks hit into 113 DPs in 2010, but cut that number down to 82 in 2011. The Bases Taken number, which counts bases gained from fly balls, wild pitches, passed balls, and balks, jumped from 110 to 135 in 2011.
The only negative about the aggressive baserunning was that the team did have more runners picked off and thrown out on the bases.
|2011 - Diamondbacks||27||75|
|2010 - Diamondbacks||16||47|
But the overall effect is hard to ignore. The team scored 32% of its baserunners in 2011, compared to just 29% in 2010. And it seems the reason wasn't because of better clutch hitting or more power, but simply better baserunning.
Just for completeness, here are the individual stats for Diamondbacks' hitters in 2011. We will look at the individual performances in more detail when we start looking at potential offseason roster changes.
|Wily Mo Pena||46||7||5||7||.196||.196||.522||0/0||4.7||.303||83|