The total number of bases stolen by the Phillies was down in 2011 compared to recent years. In my previous post, I suggested that a big part of the dropoff has to do with the number of bases that are being stolen by Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino.

In 2011, Rollins stole 30 bases for the Phils and Victorino stole 19. Based on their career numbers for stolen bases based on plate appearances and the number of times they have been on base, which of those numbers should come as a bigger surprise?

      Before 2011       In 2011    
  SB PA TOB SB per PA SB per TOB PA Expected SB based on PA Expected SB based on TOB Actual SB
Rollins 343 6906 2257 .0497 .152 631 31.34 32.37 30
Victorino 143 3043 1034 .0470 .138 586 27.54 28.49 19

I think the answer is that based on his pre-2011 numbers, Rollins’s stolen base total of 30 given his plate appearances and times on base is a lot closer to expected than Victorino’s 19. The 30 stolen bases isn’t really even a surprise of Rollins, given his past history of stolen base totals relative to the number of plate appearances he gets and the number of times he gets on base. Rollins missed time with injuries in 2011, limiting his plate appearances to 631 for the season. His stolen base rate in 2011 was very similar to what it was in 2006. That year he got 758 plate appearances, was on base 253 times and stole 36 bases. Based on his ’11 rate, he would have stolen 36 bases over 758 plate appearances in 2011 as well.

While his 2006 and 2011 rates of stolen bases are similar, Rollins has slowed a bit in the stolen base department over the past three years. He stole a career high 47 bases in 2008 and in that year his rates for stolen bases per plate appearance and stolen bases per time on base were also the highest for his career. In the three years since, Rollins has gotten 1,750 plate appearances, been on base 553 times and stolen 78 bases. Had he stolen bases at the rate he had through the end of 2008 and gotten the same number of plate appearances and times on base, we would have expected between 85 (if you use times on base) and 89 (if you use plate appearances) stolen bases.

The other thing I think the table above illustrates is that whether you base it on his stolen bases per plate appearance or his stolen bases per times on base, Rollins has been more likely to steal a base over his career than Victorino.

Victorino saw a bigger drop in his stolen bases in 2011, having stolen 132 bags over his last four seasons, an average of 33 per year.

Victorino stole more than 40 bases in the minors in both 2001 and 2002. In 2003 he got just 86 plate appearances with the Padres, but still stole seven bases. He arrived with the Phils in 2006 and didn’t run at all, getting just four stolen bases in 462 plate appearances. He followed that up with four years with the Phils as an everyday player in which he stole an average of 33 bases a year, at least 25 in every season and at least 30 in three of the four, before stealing just 19 in 2011.

Victorino was effective in his stolen base attempts in 2011, he just made fewer of them. He was caught stealing just three times, giving him a safe rate of 86.4%, which was the second-best of his career after 2007 when he stole 37 bags and was caught just four times (90.2% safe). He also saw considerable time in the leadoff spot in the order, getting 237 plate appearances batting first in the order. While hitting first in the order he stole just nine bases — in 2010 he had gotten 386 plate appearances as a leadoff hitter and stole bases at a much higher rate, getting 22 for the season while batting first.

So why did Victorino run less last year? I don’t know. But I think it’s important to remember that even when you include stolen bases, 2011 was the most productive year of his career as an offensive player. He walked at the best rate of his career, hit a career-high 16 triples and, as a percentage of his plate appearances, delivered extra-base hits and home runs at the highest level of his career. Remember, as good as Victorino’s year was, he had even better numbers before slowing at the end of the season. After going 2-for-4 with a walk and a triple against the Fish on September 2, Victorino was hitting a monster 308/384/542 in 471 plate appearances for the season. His numbers tumbled after that as he hit 163/237/288 over his last 115 plate appearances.

Victorino will appear on the February 20 episode of Hawaii Five-O.

This article by Jayson Stark suggests the Phils may be trying to trade Joe Blanton and that doing so might enable them to try to bring back Oswalt.