Mets Baserunning: Room For Improvement

From 2005-Present (the Jose Reyes Era), the Mets have been an outstanding team on the basepaths. Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Luis Castillo are some of the most valuable baserunners in the game, and in every season since 2005 the Mets have ranked among the league leaders in baserunning runs. Here's a quick look at where the Mets as a team have stacked up according to Baseball Prospectus's equivalent baserunning runs stat (EqBRR), which aims to measure how many baserunning runs above or below average a player is worth:

Year EqBRR MLB Rank
2005 14.77 1
2006 7.14 2
2007 7.59 4
2008 17.95 1
2009 0.82 12

This statistic includes stolen bases, taking the extra base, and baserunning on bunts and flyball outs. Basically, anything that gets Harold Reynolds or John Kruk all hot and bothered is factored here. Mets baserunning has been slightly above average this season, but was statistically much worse before the four stolen base game this past Sunday. Poor baserunning has been a post-game discussion topic too often, with Beltran's sliding issues, Daniel Murphy's mental lapses, and David Wright's awful stolen base percentage (45%) among the talking points. Is this endemic of a team-wide issue or just a small sample size phenomenon? I'll say it's the latter, with the caveat that I think gifted runners like Reyes and Beltran are at their best when given free reign to make their own stolen base decisions. At the same time, I feel as if over-aggressiveness on the basepaths contributed to Reyes fading down the stretch in 2007 and 2008. The "pick your spots" approach of Beltran is the best methodology. Aggressiveness for the sake of aggressiveness is foolish, despite what Bob Ojeda says. Reyes's unwise attempt to extend a double into a triple in the 8th inning last night is one such example.

Like any metric, baserunning stats are best looked at in the long run. Given this group's recent history, I'd bet the Mets are in the top five in baserunning runs at year end. Here are baserunning runs for Met position players so far this season (through May 11):

Player EqBRR
Jose Reyes 1.02
Ryan Church 0.88
Luis Castillo 0.67
Fernando Tatis 0.62
Daniel Murphy 0.58
Brian Schneider 0.57
Alex Cora 0.49
Ramon Castro -0.09
Gary Sheffield -0.10
Jeremy Reed -0.21
Omir Santos -0.44
Carlos Delgado -0.63
David Wright -1.19
Carlos Beltran -1.27
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