Yankees are among the best baserunners in baseball

Jim McIsaac

Things aren't all bad. The Yankees are elite as far as one metric is concerned.

Sixty games into the season and the Yankees look like a pretty middling team. In fact, if you go by their run differential they're worse than middling. Their pitching has basically been Masahiro Tanaka and the front of the bullpen and their lineup is pretty half-baked at the moment. They have been doing something very well, though, and that's running the bases. Now, I'm sure you're probably thinking of a couple of instances of the Yankees making pretty stupid mistakes on the basepaths (like last night), but those aside, it's been a very good year for Yankees baserunners. In fact it's been their best in recent memory. The Yankees have gotten a reputation as a plodding franchise, and for the most part it's been true in the last few seasons, but not this year.

Year

Rank

BsR

2014

4th

3.5

2013

18th

-1.9

2012

17th

0.3

2011

7th

6.8

2010

10th

4.8

2009

14th

-1.0

BsR is a combination of Ultimate Baserunning (proper advances, tagging up) and Weighted Stolen Base Runs (stealing and effectiveness in doing so), so it's factoring everything the Yankees are doing on the bases. Obviously, the addition of Jacoby Ellsbury has been a major factor in the team's improvements in this area. He not only steals a lot, but steals with great success and is a smart baserunner. His 3.0 BsR is almost the sole reason the Yankees are as improved as they are. Brett Gardner has obviously been a constant baserunning boon for this team and is again this season, as is Ichiro Suzuki, while Brian Roberts has been quicker than I would have assumed.

On the negative side of things, it's unsurprising that Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira have been negative performers by this metric. They do run like they filled their pants with sand, after all. Surprisingly, your most negative contributor in BsR has been Yangervis Solarte (-1.9 BsR). Solarte's not a noticeably slow runner, but he doesn't steal bases and his rookie exuberance has gotten him into a couple of mistakes to be sure. So he should probably tighten up in that regard, although I feel guilty asking any more of the surprising rookie.

These definitely aren't the same Yankees of years gone by. Their slugging ways have gone mostly by the wayside, so in the very least it's good that they're running into more runs than outs. It seemed to be a concerted effort by the front office to get better on the bases, so that much has been a success. However, they probably need to post a wRC+ upwards of 93 to really take advantage of their speedy efforts.

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