Years ago, driven by Ryan Theriot’s escapades on the basepaths, Chicago Cubs fan and blogger Tony Jewell (you may have known him at Wv23 if you go way back in the Cublogosphere) invented the TOOTBLAN – Thrown Out on the Basepaths Like a Nincompoop. The TOOTBLAN, which celebrates and denigrates players who make outs after they’ve already reached base, has become a part of modern Internet baseball culture, and you’ve probably seen the term, even if you didn’t know it was invented by a Cubs fan raging about Theriot. Now you know.

That fan, the aforementioned Jewell, is an awesome dude (he runs the TOOTBLAN blog and the must-follow TOOTBLAN Twitter account), and he has made a beautiful and hilarious infographic about the Cubs’ 2013 season in TOOTBLANs. He was happy to share it with us, so enjoy:

tootblan cubs

  • JB88


  • Spoda17


  • MichiganGoat

    This is AWESOME! I love that TOOTBLAN has become a staple of baseball and goes back how annoying Theriot was on the basepaths.

    This is why the internet is great. Great job Tony be amazing watching this grow from when it was first discussed all those years ago.

  • Jim

    The adjusted OBP really shouldnt be overlooked; baserunning mistakes essentially are close to not making it there at all. Interesting AND funny.

    • Cubs_Questions

      Agreed. Adjusted OBP is actually more telling than OBP itself, in my opinion.

  • Edwin

    Wow. Basically 10% of the time Sweeney reached base, he found a way to become an out.

    • Brett

      Keep in mind, sometimes those outs aren’t a guy’s fault – thrown out at home, for example.

      • Edwin

        I know, I just think it’s crazy how Sweeney had so many TOOTBLAN’s despite not even playing that much for the Cubs. He only reached the basepaths 62 times, but was still a part of 6 TOOTBLAN’s.

        • jp3

          My guess is Sweeney is deceptively slow…

        • wv23

          Sweeney’s TOOTBLANs:

          Doubled off first – 1
          Thrown out at home – 2
          Thrown out at third – 1
          FC (with an open base) at third – 2

          They are all here:

      • DarthHater

        If it isn’t the runner’s fault, then the “like a nincompoop” part seems a bit unfair.

        • jp3

          It’s because we have to boooo someone, there must be a face for our dartboards

          • jp3

            Victim of circumstance won’t fit in the bullseye

        • wv23

          The TOOTB is the important part. The LAN was added in a fit of whimsy (and it was created to apply to Theriot in ’08 when he was getting thrown out at third on FCs to the SS in front of him).

          Here’s an explanation:

          • MichiganGoat

            Yeah I think it’s great it has such a fun story to explain to people and has a great sound to it, and once you explain the history the stat makes so much sense and gives you a reason to say nincompoop- who doesn’t want that?

  • mxb

    Thanks for this write up and explanation. I’ve been seeing the acronym TOOTBLAN popping up recently on this and other sites. I was too lazy to google it to find out what it actually meant.

  • wv23

    Thanks, Brett and everyone. Happy to provide any clarity you need, mxb or anyone else you need…

    • wv23

      Or whatever it is I am trying to say there.

      • hansman

        That was a TOBCLAN

    • MichiganGoat

      The tanks is all yours you’ve created an amazing stat from the hilarity of a true Nincompoop.

      • MichiganGoat

        Yes you get ALL THE TANKS! And they all come with Thanks.

  • Jon

    Limited sample size, but Junior Lake was caught on 1/2! of his steal attempts(8). I know he is supposed to be fast, but was he getting a bad jump? Could it be an issue of his long stride and acceleration?

    • MichiganGoat

      Or just good throws bad choice of attempts (running on a high fastball for example)- stealing bases is one of the more difficult stats to evaluate a players speed and base running skills. Hell the great Campana got thrown out more than his speed suggests and Rickey Henderson was thrown out a ton when he broke all those records. There’s a reason why teams don’t steal as much as before, it’s risky and recording a TOOTBLAN us a bad out (even when it’s not the players fault.)

  • TWC

    For as much as I love the provenance of the term (f’ing Theriot…), I’ve always considered it’s utility (and/or reliance) as a stat to be unfortunate, and somewhat unfair. Someone getting thrown out by an eyelash going from 1st to 3rd on a hard-hit line drive single doesn’t seem the same to me as f’ing Theriot picking his nose between bases and getting completely lost. The latter is unquestionably a nincompoop. The former may have just gotten nicked by a great throw, and doesn’t deserve the aspersion of a TOOTBLAN.

    • DarthHater

      In this respect, a TOOTBLAN is kind of like an “error.”

    • MichiganGoat

      Yeah I’ve thought the same but I love how it tracks outs that could have been avoided, but there is a difference between getting thrown out by an amazing throw and Therioting between 1st and 2nd.

    • wv23

      TOOTBLAN was created as a component of the RTAOBP (Ryan Theriot Adjusted On-Base Percentage), because Cubs fans – in the midst of a 97-win season, mind you – could not decide whether Theriot was any good or not.

      I was largely agnostic, though was bemused by his tendency to needlessly dive when a ball was four feet behind him.

      The Theriot defenders endlessly pointed to his OBP for the season. Critics responded that he was always getting thrown out (not to mention the FCs at third). So, we attempted to provide context to that debate.

      That should have been it; the post was actually thrown together rather quickly.

      Instead, BBTF picked it up, Cubs fans started using it pretty regularly, Dodgers, Cardinals and Giants fans picked it up when he played for them … and there you go. Theriot was like a virus infecting fan bases around the country.

      Now, as far as the LAN: I believe the “stat” became popular because of the acronym, even though it overshadowed the more useful aOBP.

      The TOOTB is the important part. We ascribe no blame to most outs (beyond the Cedeno, Segura, Fielder, Wong debacles), but they are what they are.

      And they are TOOTBLANs.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Yeah, Theriot was definitely from the David Eckstein school of “make it look like you are trying really hard.” However, for all we knock him, Theriot was a huge upgrade over 0BP Izturis…..

  • Indy57

    Well done! An excellent analysis, Tony. The Cubs have always been accused of poor base running (think Tom Brennaman). Now we can see numerically/graphically where they fit overall and who are the main culprits (A bit of a prado analysis for us six sigma fans). It would be interesting to see who the culprits are by base as well. Does Castro get thrown out at second and third trying to stretch hits? Does Rizzo get picked off first? Would be interesting to see the prado by base and player. Just a thought.

    Also, it would be equally interesting to see some kind of base running analysis that could demonstrate the opposite, meaning which teams or players are adept at taking the extra base, not getting picked off, scoring etc. Not sure if which part of the slash line that would count towards and not sure how you would dig out the data. The analysis you have done helps us identify the knuckleheads, but it would be equally interesting to find out who are the top base runners and base running teams.

    • wv23

      A quick look shows:

      Rizzo was doubled off of first twice (bad luck, generally speaking); thrown out at home on a hit twice; thrown out at third on a hit once; picked off first twice; thrown out at home on a would-be SF once; thrown out at third on a fielder’s choice with an open base once (a Theriot); thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice with an open base once; and thrown out at home on a runner’s choice (this is usually a passed ball).

      Castro was doubled off first once; doubled off second twice; picked off second once; picked off third and caught stealing home once; thrown out at home on a hit twice and thrown out at second on a hit twice.

      Just looked real quick at database, so those may be off here and there.

      As for what it all means, the TOOTBLAN is just a proof point that may or may not be used for any number of things.

      A Rockies fan took at look at the base running out rate early last season:

      We also took a look at win probability and TOOTBLANs (very basic, of course):

      Now, the question of course becomes how to weight it.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    Here is the tough encore: how do we estimate the “plus” part of aggressive base-running here? With stolen bases, there is a general 2:1 rule: if you successfully steal twice for every one time you are caught and you are running in front of league-average hitters, then it’s a net-gain for your team.

    So, what we need is a Safe On Daring Escapade counterpart to SB to go with TOOTBLAN as a counterpart to CS. This must exist somewhere, because they do estimate how many extra runs teams create by taking extra bases.

    This is fairly important because the teams that have the fewest TOOTBLANS probably are not the best running teams, but the most station-to-station teams; the good running teams probably have intermediate TOOTBLANS because they will be trying more frequently than the station-to-station teams.

    (I love a stat that would make my 5 year old laugh, too….)

  • Diehardthefirst

    Theo must’ve used that analysis to justify grabbing Emilio- after my memo of course

    • MichiganGoat

      Wow you really need a pat on the head for your 1 correct prediction in the last 3 years don’t you. Would 1M Internet Bucks be enough?

    • ssckelley

      Yes, I found your analysis so exceptionally awesome that I forwarded it to Theo. But I am keeping the consulting fee that they paid me.

      Will you please do a few more analysis?

    • brainiac

      people’s reactions to diehard has a kind of “parks and rec” vibe. he’s our jerry. the guy who does and says everything right and people hate him for it.

      • ClevelandCubsFan

        Well… there’s definitely a recreation element… (and I think we can all agree on that no matter our taste in BN Posts). Not sure the Jerry thing makes any sense for any of the parties.

        • MichiganGoat

          Die hard is not a joke here, he is an important part of the community and calling him Jerry is insulting. He is our Dick Tidrow! He is often mimicked but all those attempt just become pathetic trolling.

          • Fishin Phil

            “He is our Dick Tidrow!” And he has the mustache to prove it!

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