Common sense would tell us Henderson created numerous runs by stealing so many bases during his record breaking season. But a deeper look into the numbers reveals a different story:
Henderson stole 130 bases in 1982. Those 130 stolen bases generated an extra 22.2 runs. He was caught 42 times. Those caught steals cost the A's 20.6 runs.
For all of Henderson's stolen base efforts that year, the net gain was just 1.6 runs.
Henderson's 76% success rate in '82 basically matched the break even point for that era.
To put this in perspective, the lumbering, meandering Pete Incaviglia stole three bases in his 1986 rookie season. He was caught twice. In doing so, his stolen base attempts cost his team about half a run over the course of the season.
The value of Henderson's 130 stolen bases in 1982 and Incaviglia's three stolen bases in 1986, amount to about a two run difference.
This does not mean for a second that Henderson was not an amazing player. His ability to get on base was always his trump card. It just points out the critical importance of stolen base percentages, and how history can often ignore what matters most: Did the record in question really help the team win? If it didn't, is it still a valuable record?
This information comes from the book 'Baseball Between The Numbers'. The book is written by the highly respected 'Baseball Prospectus' team of experts.
This type of stat, one that is an affront to our heroes, makes so many want to shoot Sabermetricians for redefining value. But they speak truth, albeit a cold truth.