April 11, 2021

Rafael Devers, Inefficient Thief | FanGraphs Baseball (FanGraphs)

Rafael Devers was an absolute stud last year. He amassed more than 700 plate appearances, the first full season of his career, and put up career highs in pretty much everything. Each of the three slash stats, ISO, wRC+, WAR, defensive value, baserunning runs — seriously, pretty much everything. But I’m not here to talk about that today; we get it, Rafael Devers is great. Instead, let’s talk about another career high: eight times caught stealing.

That sounds bad, right off the jump. Eight times? The rule of thumb with stolen bases is a 75% success rate; succeed any less often, and you’re costing your team value. Take a look at the caught stealing leaderboard, and you can see that most baserunners implicitly get this tradeoff:

Caught Stealing Leaders, 2019

Going 50% on your attempts clearly isn’t that. Take a look at this one, from a May 8 game against the Orioles:

That’s at least a good spot to be stealing — one where the baserunner can break even with a success rate below 75%. To be precise, it’s around 65% in this case, depending on what you think of Núñez’s expected production at the plate after an 0-2 count. But still, you have to succeed! Givens…

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