Within the sixth inning of Saturday evening’s Diamondbacks-Reds recreation, Tim Locastro took off for second base. Acknowledging the blazing velocity of the runner, Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart rushed to get into his throwing movement earlier than even securing the baseball. Thus, Carson Fulmer’s pitch nicked off his glove and skipped to the Chase Discipline backstop. Locastro made it to second with no throw.
Not as soon as in Locastro’s profession has he been caught stealing, with Saturday’s stolen base representing his twenty eighth consecutive profitable try, a brand new main league document. It broke the mark set by Tim Raines, who went 27-for-27 to start his profession from 1979 to 1981 (stolen base makes an attempt have been recorded since 1951). To mark the achievement, Locastro’s cleats were swiped (pun absolutely meant) by Cooperstown, the place they are going to be displayed within the Nationwide Baseball Corridor of Fame.
Locastro is one thing of a baseball enigma, one popularized by baseball YouTuber Silly Baseball, whose video “Why Tim Locastro Ought to Be Your Favourite Bizarre Participant” now has 1.1 million views. Locastro is elite — boasting a 99th percentile skill in two very area of interest expertise: operating quick and getting hit by pitches. This enables him to incessantly get on base even regardless of a subpar 6.6% profession stroll price, and instantly wreck full havoc on the basepaths.
Dash Pace Leaders
Min. 10 alternatives, 2015-21
What’s fascinating about Locastro isn’t simply that he’s a velocity demon, it’s that no catcher has but to catch him when he goes. Pace definitely performs a task in stolen base success price, however it’s removed from the one issue right here, as all the quickest gamers in baseball have been caught stealing no less than a handful of instances throughout their careers. Moreover, as a result of gamers can fairly actually select when to go, they self choose for a better stolen base price. Thus, it is sensible that dash velocity alone correlates considerably poorly (r-squared of 0.11) with stolen base success:
Albert Pujols, the slowest participant within the Statcast period, has been profitable in 84% of his stolen base makes an attempt since 2015, although it’s value noting that he hasn’t tried to steal since 2019, when his dash velocity was a smidge quicker, at 22.5 toes per second. (That is in comparison with the 22.0 ft/sec dash velocity he posted in 2020.) Like Locastro, Pujols’ most up-to-date stolen base got here with no throw:
So, as Pujols demonstrates, stealing bases (comparatively) effectively might be achieved even with out blazing velocity. As baseball has continued to play the chances, this is sensible, since run expectancy matrices inform us that base runners have to steal efficiently roughly 75% of the time to “break even.” Even nonetheless, nonetheless, it’s an entire completely different feat to steal as typically as Locastro does and by no means get caught. Of the 530 non-pitchers to look in no less than 100 video games since 2017, Locastro ranks within the 94th percentile in stolen base makes an attempt per recreation. Sure, Locastro steals fairly repeatedly (which is sensible, contemplating his uncooked velocity), and but he nonetheless has by no means been caught.
Which nonetheless leaves us with the overarching query: How precisely does Locastro do it?
First, simply as soon as — in his first profession stolen base try, no much less — has Locastro stolen third base. Stealing second is considerably simpler than stealing third, so in case your aim is to by no means be caught, then avoiding the temptation of third base is sensible. In 2019, the typical catcher pop time to second base was 2.01 seconds. To 3rd base, it was 1.61 seconds. Together with his velocity, Locastro definitely might steal third, and will seemingly accomplish that more-than-efficiently, however it’s fascinating that he’s solely tried it as soon as (and it additionally fascinating that it was in his first profession try).
Right here’s how Locastro compares to different quick gamers in third base stolen base makes an attempt:
Stolen Base Makes an attempt by Base, Dash Pace Leaders
|Title||Dash Pace||Profession 2B SBA||Profession 3B SBA||Complete SBA|
Min. 20 profession stolen base makes an attempt
As you possibly can see, Locastro isn’t the one speedster on the bases who has averted making an attempt to steal third. Buxton, too, has solely tried third as soon as in his profession, which might elevate questions in regards to the technique behind stolen bases. For one, how a lot of it’s organizational? Although some stolen base leaders all the time have the inexperienced mild, coaches will typically give runners indicators, which theoretically could be at extra optimum instances to run. Particularly lately, might the Twins have informed Buxton to not strive for third, particularly given all the huge boppers they’ve had of their lineup? It’s fully potential.
However the broader level right here is that almost all, although not all, of those quick runners do strive for third considerably incessantly. Moreover Locastro and Buxton, Engel is the one different participant on the above listing for which fewer than 10% of his profession stolen base makes an attempt are to 3rd base.
Avoiding makes an attempt at third base shouldn’t be the one method by which Locastro proves that he is aware of when to go. I logged all 28 of his stolen base makes an attempt, making observe of which catcher was behind the dish for every. Then, I listed all of their common pop instances based mostly on knowledge from Baseball Savant and Statcast. As a result of 2020 and 2021 pop instances have but to be printed on the positioning, there are some gaps for catchers with current debuts. For the extra veteran catchers who tried to catch Locastro in 2020, I used their most up-to-date, 2019 pop time within the final column:
Tim Locastro Stolen Bases
*Pop time to 3B
For the explanations listed above, that is an inexact science, however it’s nonetheless fascinating to investigate which varieties of catchers Locastro runs on. Excluding Locastro’s one try at third, when he runs, the typical pop time of the catcher behind the plate has been 2.03 seconds. If all of those catchers have been mixed into one big “anti-Locastro catcher,” their common 2.03 second base pop time would’ve ranked fiftieth out of the 78 catchers with no less than 5 throws right down to second in 2019. Locastro is lightning quick and picks below-average catchers to run on, an excellent recipe for achievement. To additional this level, in 17 of his 25 stolen base makes an attempt to second (with knowledge) — almost 70% — Locastro has run on a catcher with a pop time at or above 2.01 seconds, the foremost league common.
As a result of I did this by hand, I don’t know precisely how this compares to different thieves. Even nonetheless, it positively gives a useful glimpse into the world of Tim Locastro on the basepaths. As a result of he’s so quick, not often makes an attempt to steal third, and tends to run on catchers with below-average pop instances, we are able to collect a simplistic, but elementary understanding in how he has been capable of begin his profession 28-for-28. So transfer over Tim Raines, there’s a brand new speedster on the town. Tim Locastro, one in every of our favourite bizarre baseball gamers, has etched his identify within the document books with an elite mixture of velocity and effectivity.