The source of not hitting with runners on is not hitting
Today’s obvious observation, inspired by this McLaren quote, via Baker:
“We’ve had a tough time in this series with runners in scoring position,” McLaren said. “It’s been a tough go for us. We know we need to do a better job.”
I understand the frustration with stranding runners. Given a rare situation where the team is more likely to score a run, it’s disappointing to see nothing happen. But the cause of this problem isn’t because there’s some skill the M’s are missing, like “advancing the runner” or “hitting to the right side of the infield” or whatever. It’s that the offense sucks.
The M’s hit .249/.306/.377 normally, .248/.320/.389 with runners on, and .227/.321/.376 with runners in scoring position. AL average is .261/.330/.404, and with runners in scoring position is .266/.351/.406. So the M’s RISP performance is almost exactly what you’d expect it to be.
Beyond that, if you want to look at causes of their runner stranding, how about this: there is one — one — ONE, DAMMIT, ONE — player on the team who gets on more than a league average hitter, and it’s Ichiro. He’s usually followed by Lopez, who hits for average and not much else. Behind them it’s an absolute crapshoot: Ibanez if you’re lucky, or Beltre, but often Vidro, or Cairo, or some other zero. The guys who can get on base are isolated in the lineup from any one else with any offensive value. I know a lot of people are skeptical about the value of lineup construction, but some of these McLaren creations have come about as close to the worst possible choice.
The problem isn’t that the Mariners don’t hit with runners in scoring position. It’s that they don’t hit, they don’t have runners, the runners aren’t in scoring position, and the hitters who can get on and get into scoring position have to watch from the basepaths as inept batters following them make out after out.