Fast Players Hit Fewer 2B and 3B With Runners on First?

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Fast Players Hit Fewer 2B and 3B With Runners on First?
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Editor’s Note: This is re-posted, with permission, from Cyril Morong’s Cybermetrics blog, a great site focusing on Sabermetric analysis. This was originally written on July 20, 2008. This is particularly appropriate for the current Mets lineup with Jose Reyes batting third.

If a fast player hits a ball hard and/or far down the line or into to the gap and there is a runner on first if that runner is slow or not fast, he might hold up at 3B. The fast player will have to hold at 2B. Had there been no runner on, then he might have hit a triple. A similar story could be told for doubles. So do fast players hit fewer 2Bs and 3Bs if there is a man on first base?

First, I identify the fastest players using the triple-to-double ratio. Just triples is not good enough since some fast players either don’t hit the ball enough or far enough to get triples. But by using this ratio we are looking at long hits when the batter has a chance to turn a double into a triple. Fast players will do this more than slow players.

The top 15 in this ratio from 2005-2007 with 1200+ PAs were

Dave Roberts 0.5926
Jose Reyes 0.5111
Curt Granderson 0.4667
Juan Pierre 0.4533
Ichiro Suzuki 0.4444
Carl Crawford 0.4444
Chone Figgins 0.3333
Jimmy Rollins 0.3306
Luis Castillo 0.2830
Rafael Furcal 0.2791
Orlando Hudson 0.2644
Nick Punto 0.2632
Omar Vizquel 0.2500
Willy Taveras 0.2444
Mark Teahen 0.2346

I did not include Kenny Lofton since he is not currently playing and I could not get the data for him that I use below. He was 7th.

With no runner on first base, this group of player had a 2B rate of 4.491%. Their 3B rate was 1.57%. With a runner on first base, those rates were 1.68% and 4.235%. So they hit triples more often with a man on first base than without, but doubles were fewer. The rate was 6% lower. This group of players hit 254 doubles with a runner on first over this three year period. 6% of that is only about 15. That works out to about just .33 fewer doubles per year. The triple rate was about 7% higher with a runner on first base. This group of players hit 101 3Bs over the three years with a runner on first. Another 7% is about 7 then is only about .15 triples per year. So, all in all, fast players hit about the same number of doubles and triples with a runner on first base as they do with no runner on first.

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