Cubs Are MLB’s Best Team at Going First-to-Third on Singles

Javy Baez scored from first base on singles in consecutive games this week, making it three times he had done so in four games. And while he’s sort of the poster child for amazing baserunning, the Cubs boast several savvy sprinters and seem to go first to third every time there’s a single.

The stats reveal that it’s not a quite sure thing, but the Cubs do lead the league in advancing at least two bags on a base hit. They have done so 118 times so far this season, 38 times more than the next-closest team (Dodgers). That’s a nearly 50 percent increase, though the Cubs have had more opportunities than any team.

Which is why I looked at their percentage of going first to third (or home) out of total times in which they had a man on first when a single was hit. Wouldn’t you know it, the Cubs are at the top of the heap by more than two percentage points. But if you really want to know how the little things can impact a team over the course of a season, look at the bottom of this list.

There we find the Cincinnati Reds, at team with only six fewer total opportunities than the Cubs. Yet they’ve advanced two or more bases on singles only 75 times, a league-worst 25 percent. That’s 41 fewer bases than the Cubs, 41 fewer runners just 90 feet from home. Even if make a very conservative estimate that half of those runners score, the Reds could have tallied at least 20 more runs.

Given Cincy’s 19-19 record in one-run games, it’s entirely conceivable that improved ability to take that extra base could have earned them several more wins. Not that it really matters when they’re 23 games under .500 and continue to pay Homer Bailey to pitch, but you see what I’m getting at.

The Cubs are what and where they are because they do so many little things right. And one of the little things they do better than anyone else is going first to third on a single. Love it.

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