The Base Run Angels of Runs
Via a Rob McMillin link to his own archives I came across an old post by Jeff Angus at his Management by Baseball website about the Angels' emphasis on doing well in RISP and RISP/2out situations. Angus used a pretty small sample to make his point, so it got me wondering about how much the Angels' organization strategy has helped them.
So, I compared the Angels' offense from 2002 up through June 7, 2008 to the rest of the AL over the same span. The Angels compiled a .326 wOBA against the league's .330, which suggests a -141 run differential. By linear weights (including stolen bases and CS), I have them at -105. By Base Runs (using the most detailed formula), I have them as -77. In actual runs scored, however, they are +26 runs. So between baserunning and timeliness, they've managed an extra 103 runs over the 6.389 seasons in the sample. In other words, Base Runs tells us that their Pythagorean record should be .544 instead of the .553 it has been (their actual winning percentage has also been .553). So the Angels have won an extra ten games because of their baserunning (excluding SB and CS) and the timeliness of their hitting, or 1.5 wins per season.
So, that is the equivalent of each hitter being about +1.6 in baserunning+timeliness. So, if you want to give the franchise credit for its strategy, then give them 1.5 wins a year. However, there are two obvious reasons to discount that figure:
1. It could just be luck, or rather, we don't know how much to attribute to luck and how much to skill.
2. It doesn't account for the trade-offs of the strategy. If the Angels have picked players who are otherwise less valuable overall, then all else being equal that value needs to be subtracted from the 1.5 wins. Further, if the Angels are developing their hitters to be good in these areas (timeliness and baserunning), then the credit for the success of that strategy needs to be offset by whatever developmental losses it has incurred. If they make a player +1.6 runs in these areas, then the benefit would be swamped if that teaching results in the player getting three fewer walks and three more outs.