Mets lap the rest of MLB on the bases

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Eric Young Jr. is just one part of the Mets' baserunning success in 2013.

When we talk about the Mets' speed and smarts, we're not just referring to that which belongs to tonight's starter, Matt Harvey.

We're referencing the baserunning that won Tuesday's game, which epitomized the way the Mets have been playing all season.


Head over to Fangraphs.com and there is a stat, UBR (also known as BSR, or Ultimate Baserunning Rating), that was developed in a matter similar to the fielding stat UZR -- players are credited for positive baserunning accomplishments, being safe on steals, avoiding baserunning outs, and taking the extra base on hits and penalized for negative ones (making outs).

The Mets don't just lead the majors in UBR; they're way ahead of everyone else.

The Mets have a UBR of 15.4 runs (meaning their baserunning has been worth 15 runs above what an average team’s baserunning was worth). The gap between them and the second-place Kansas City Royals is 6.5 runs. For comparative purposes, that's as wide as the gap between the eighth-best team and the 14th-best team.

The Mets have three players who rank in the top 30 in UBR (Young is tied for 16th, David Wright is tied for 18th and Daniel Murphy is 27th).

Young is climbing up the rankings on a nightly basis. Over the last 30 days, his UBR of 2.4 runs rates third-best in the majors.

Key component: The extra base

The Mets' success in this stat isn’t about the stolen base (the Mets rate about league average (17th at 72.3 percent), but about taking the extra base, like Eric Young Jr. did in scoring the go-ahead run in the eighth inning.

Mets Baserunning -- 2012 to 2013

The combination of the Mets' overall baserunning aptitude, the decision-making of base coaches Tim Teufel and Tom Goodwin, and a little bit of luck rate an A-plus.

There is a terrific statistical section tucked away on Baseball-Reference.com that allows you to dig deep into a team’s baserunning performance.

We’ve summarized the best notes in the chart to the right, but since that material is not familiar to most, let’s explain line by line to show you why the Mets rate so well

The Mets have taken 83 bases this season on fly balls, passed balls, wild pitches, balks and defensive indifference.

That’s a pace of 122, a dozen more bases than they took last year.

The Mets have made 22 outs on the bases, which encompasses trying to advance on a fly ball, errant pitch, or being doubled off on a line drive. They’re on pace for 32—18 fewer than last year.

The Mets' ratio of bases taken to outs made is nearly 4-to-1 (83-to-22). Last year, it was barely better than 2-to-1 (110-to-50). Only one team has a better ratio than the Mets -- the Tampa Bay Rays (138 bases taken, 27 outs made).

The Mets have increased their rate of going first to third and second to home on singles by six and five percentage points respectively (42 percent to 48 percent, and 67 percent to 72 percent). They’ve upped their rate of going first to home on a double by six percentage points.

And they have gone from making 11 outs trying to take an extra base on hits to making only two.

Young has the team’s best baserunning numbers, but the success has filtered down even to someone like slow-footed catcher John Buck, who has scored nine times on the 10 singles hit when he was on second base.

Overall, the Mets take an extra base on base hits 48 percent of the time, the highest rate in the majors, an overall jump of six percentage points from 2012.

And as we saw last night, the true difference is sometimes the difference between winning and losing.