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Statistically speaking: Pirates, Yankees among MLB's best on base paths

| Thursday, May 15, 2014, 10:39 p.m.

The Pirates take on the New York Yankees for the first time since 2008, when the Pirates took two of three at PNC Park during a series in which the teams slugged for a combined 33 runs. This year's matchup in the Bronx could well be decided by fleet feet on the bases rather than feats of strength.

The Pirates have been scraping together runs, ranking 22nd in the majors in scoring entering play Friday. The Yankees have been more potent (11th in runs scored), but they're hardly conjuring up memories of Murderer's Row. While neither club has a prolific offense, the Pirates and Yankees are maximizing their run-scoring chances with aggressive, efficient base running.

The Yankees and the Pirates rank second and third, respectively, in Base Running Runs (BsR), which estimates the value a player adds by swiping bags, taking extra bases and avoiding outs.

Base path boost

Team BsR

Angels +7.8

Yankees +3.4

Pirates +3.1

Braves +2.9

Rangers +2.5

Source: Fangraphs

The Yankees (85 percent success rate on steals) and Pirates (79 percent) are stealing bases at a clip well above the 74 percent MLB average. Jacoby Ellsbury (11 for 13 in steals) and Brett Gardner (9 for 9) have stood out for the Bombers, while the Pirates' Starling Marte has gone 11 for 12 after leading the majors in caught stealings last season.

These teams are proving adept at going from first to third and second to home, too. The Pirates have taken an extra base in 44 percent of potential chances, and the Yankees have done so 43 percent of the time (40 percent MLB average).

Gardner (64 percent) and Marte (59 percent) are taking extra bags at will, which explains why they lead their respective teams in BsR.

Player BsR

Brett Gardner +3.0

Starling Marte +2.9

Brian Roberts +1.5

Jacoby Ellsbury +1.0

Kelly Johnson +0.8

David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.

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