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The Best Baserunner of 2015

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December 24, 2015

This past season was one of the greatest displays of baserunning the sport has ever seen, and most of us were unaware of what was unfolding in front of us. Baseball Info Solutions began collecting comprehensive baserunning data back in 2002, allowing Bill James to formulate an all-encompassing statistic to measure baserunning production called Net Gain. This metric includes two central elements, stolen bases (SB Gain) and baserunning advancements on hits and outs (BR Gain).

The 2015 season generated a tight two-man race atop the stolen base leaderboard as Dee Gordon (58) edged out Billy Hamilton (57) by one bag. Hamilton, however, is the mainstay in this year’s baserunning Stat of the Week. He led the charge in Net Gain by a landslide this season, posting a +67 mark, one and a half times the production of last season’s leader and this year’s runner up, Ben Revere.

Best Baserunners in 2015

PlayerNet Gain
Billy Hamilton+67
Ben Revere+44
Lorenzo Cain+35
Delino DeShields+35
Jarrod Dyson+34

What Hamilton did on the base paths this past year was the second greatest season in terms of total Net Gain dating back to 2002. The only player to outdo Hamilton’s +67 was Willy Taveras in 2008 with +70. However, when we adjust Net Gain for the number of times on base, Hamilton ran away with the most prolific baserunning season we’ve seen in recent history.

Most Efficient Baserunning Seasons Since 2002

PlayerSeasonNet GainTimes on Base (Min 100)Net Gain per Times on Base
Billy Hamilton2015+671380.49
Willy Taveras2008+701880.37
Jarrod Dyson2012+461300.35
Rajai Davis2013+481380.35
James Jones2014+361220.30

Hamilton amassed this otherworldly mark through a combination of incredibly efficient base stealing and above-average advancement on both hits and outs. Hamilton was caught stealing only eight times this season, compared to 23 times in 2014. He posted a stolen base percentage of 88 percent, fifth-best among players with at least 20 attempts. His 2015 stolen base numbers put him atop the SB Gain list (+41), head and shoulders above A.J. Pollock (+25) and Jarrod Dyson (+20). This also tied for the fifth-best total since 2002. In the other department, Hamilton finished tied for third in BR Gain at +26, trailing only Ben Revere and Brock Holt by one.

To complete the baserunning spectrum, here are the five worst baserunners from 2015.

Worst Baserunners in 2015

PlayerNet Gain
Billy Butler-38
Jhonny Peralta-33
James Loney-26
James McCann-28
Justin Bour-27

Billy Butler’s season marked the fourth-worst Net Gain total since 2002. As a whole, the group combined for 3 stolen bases on 12 attempts. All five runners posted atrocious advancement percentages, finishing in the bottom 10 percent of the league for players with at least 30 opportunities.

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