By MARK SIMON
Cardinals infielder Tommy Edman can cover 90 feet in 3.87 seconds, a time that ranks right around the top 50 players in MLB. Byron Buxton is the current standard-setter at 3.74 seconds.
But when it comes to actual baserunning skill, Edman is – to this point – unmatched.
SIS tracks baserunning not just in stolen bases and attempts, but also in how often a runner goes first to third or second to home on a single, or first to home on a double, as well as how often he garners bases on things such as wild pitches or passed balls. There are penalties for getting thrown out on the bases and for grounding into double plays often. The baseline is MLB average.
By our measures, Edman entered Wednesday leading MLB with a Net Gain of +23 bases. The split on those is +8 bases from stolen bases (Edman has 10 steals in 11 attempts) and an MLB-best +15 bases from baserunning (including 9 instances of gaining a base on a wild pitch, passed ball, defensive indifference, balk, or fly ball). Edman’s teammate, Harrison Bader, ranks second overall with 16 bases gained.
This isn’t a new thing for Edman. Last season, he finished 4th with a Net Gain of +40 bases, 10 behind the MLB leader, Starling Marte.
If you guessed that the Cardinals lead MLB teams in Net Gain since they have the No. 1 and No. 2 baserunner, you would actually be wrong. They’re bettered by one team, the Rangers, whose Net Gain is +41 bases. The Cardinals are at +35, just ahead of the Giants, who are at +34.
The Rangers have three players in the Top 10 in Net Gain: Marcus Semien (T-5th, +13), Corey Seager (T-10th, +11), and Eli White (T-10th, +11).
Semien and Seager rank No. 2 and No. 3 overall, respectively, behind Edman in Baserunning Gain at +12 and +11. Seager’s 11 advances on wild pitches, passed balls, defensive indifferences, balks, and fly outs is tied with Tommy Pham for the MLB lead.
The Rangers also get a nice boost from not grounding into double plays. Their 19 are four fewer than any other team.
The Rangers have been a good team once they’ve gotten on the bases. The problem is the getting on the bases. Texas’ .286 on-base percentage is the 3rd-lowest in the majors.
The Cardinals don’t have such issues. Their .324 OBP ranks fifth-best and combining that with their baserunning, it’s not surprising they are 4th in MLB in runs per game.