Sunday, July 18, 2010

Catcher Bengie Molina Hits For The Cycle. So How Slow Is He?

He hit only his 6th career triple in the game and that was after over 4,000 ABs. That sounds slow.

I have a theory that you can get a general idea of a guy's speed or base running ability by looking at his triple-to-double ratio. Some fast guys don't hit the ball hard enough or often enough to get many triples, so just using triples is not enough to gauge speed. And some guys who may not be that fast might get alot of triples more because they are good hitters.

But if you look at this ratio, it tells you how often a guy made it to third relative to how many times they had to stop at second. And if you get thrown out at third, you get a double. Fast guys will turn long hits into triples more often than slow guys who must stop at 2nd.

But Voros McCracken has a better way to do it. Take the following ratio: 3B/(2B + 3B). This makes it an average or a rate. It tells us what percentage of the time a batter was successful when he had a chance to make it to third with a triple instead of a double.

Let's see where Molina ranks in this stat. To do that, I found all the right-handed batters from 1960-2009 who had 4,000+ ABs. The table below shows the top ten and the bottom ten.

The average rate for righties was .110. That means that the average righty was 4.6 times more likely to get a triple instead of a double than Molina (.110/.024 = 4.62). The next table shows the top ten and bottom ten for lefties. Their average rate was .131.

The next table shows the top ten and bottom ten for switch hitters. Their average rate was .146 (I have no idea why it is higher than the lefties' rate).