The source of not hitting with runners on is not hitting

DMZ · June 10, 2008 at 8:16 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

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.


24 Responses to “The source of not hitting with runners on is not hitting”

  1. Colm on June 10th, 2008 8:24 pm

    Gee. Ya figure?

    (Sorry, still trying to get the hang of this American language.)

    Is McLaren then contributing to the utter boredom of watching the Mariners this season? Because crap I can take. Crap and expensive is embarrassing but not fatal. But crap and as dull as all hell? That’s just unforgiveable.

  2. jro on June 10th, 2008 8:29 pm

    It’s that the offense sucks.

    At first my reaction to this was that it’s a bit over-simplified. After thinking further, I agree — that is the crux of it.

    There isn’t anyway to slice an RISP of .227/.321/.376 and come away with anything other than the need for improvement across the board. At this point, the offense is substantially worse than any other in baseball, and that’s the only consistent characteristic this team has shown throughout the 2008 season.

  3. edgar for mayor on June 10th, 2008 8:50 pm

    Beltre has suffered awful luck this year and its a shame we have to lump him into the “if your lucky category”. Beltre isn’t lucky :(.

    But yes. This team is an abomination and its need top be destroyed. But hey, we can look forward to several happy Strasburg filled years, if this keeps up. Are they ever going to do the right thing up there in the FO and start getting ready for next year?

  4. rufusgufus on June 10th, 2008 8:56 pm

    I don’t argue with your basic premise ‘the offense sucks’ but doesn’t it suck significantly more with RISP?

    The M’s BA with RISP is .022 below their ‘normal’ – the AL as a whole is .005 above ‘normal with RISP.

    Isn’t that pretty substantial?

  5. Sports on a Schtick on June 10th, 2008 8:57 pm

    The M’s save their best sucking for when it counts.

  6. msb on June 10th, 2008 8:58 pm

    The M’s hit .249/.306/.377 normally, .248/.320/.389 with runners on, and .227/.321/.376 with runners in scoring position.

    obviously, it is because they are all batting scared, scared of the terrible retribution that would come their way if they fail.

    oh, wait.

  7. gwangung on June 10th, 2008 9:03 pm

    I don’t argue with your basic premise ‘the offense sucks’ but doesn’t it suck significantly more with RISP?

    The slugging is the same and the OBP improves from when the bases are empty. That tells you that they’re trading walks for that batting average which isn’t a bad thing.

  8. confess on June 10th, 2008 9:15 pm

    Simply put, the failure to hit with runners in scoring position is not the the cause of the team’s problems, but is, in fact, the result.

  9. jro on June 10th, 2008 9:33 pm

    Billy Beane stated in an interview that he doesn’t believe in “clutch hitting”; that the average/mean production for a hitter tends to stay the same, regardless of situation.

    The M’s RISP numbers certainly seem to suggest “anti-clutch” hitting is alive and well.

  10. don52656 on June 10th, 2008 10:29 pm

    Yep. Absolutely right. Some of the statistics among the Mariner hitters (using the term lightly) are hard to believe. For example, Kenji Johjima has 183 AB’s this year, and he has led an inning off 41 times. So, there are 142 AB’s that Kenji has not led off the inning… those 142 AB’s, the bases have been empty 72 times. So the good news is that Kenji is hitting .269 with runners on. The bad news is that is occurs less than half the time.

  11. tomas on June 10th, 2008 10:32 pm

    ‘McLaren Creations.’

    Sounds like one of those bad food products you see at the store, Tuna Casserole with Jalapenos or some such.

    Mac is a Bad Frankenstein

  12. don52656 on June 10th, 2008 10:37 pm

    Or how about this gem…Jose Vidro is hitting .215/.260/.323 and is 2nd on the team in RBI’s.

    Or Adrian Beltre, in 64 games, has knocked in 28 runs. Of those, 13 RBI’s are himself.

    Let’s hear it for Willie Bloomquist, the only Mariner with more BB’s than K’s. However, at last count, I think he’s hit the ball out of the infield something like 7 times all season.

  13. zDawgg on June 10th, 2008 10:46 pm

    dull baseball is right.

    Where’s Lenny Randle when you need him?

  14. smb on June 10th, 2008 11:01 pm

    Lenny Randle is the best. I have my signed 8×10 on the wall right next to me now.

    Suck is the cancer that is killing the Mariner offense. I think we know who the hosts are, too.

  15. Sports on a Schtick on June 10th, 2008 11:25 pm

    Triunfel hit his first home run tonight. In two years the M’s offensive woes will be solved.

  16. JMHawkins on June 10th, 2008 11:36 pm

    The M’s BA with RISP is .022 below their ‘normal’ – the AL as a whole is .005 above ‘normal with RISP.

    And that’s actually pretty easy to explain. Derek hinted at it.

    When the M’s have RISP, that probably means Ichiro or Lopez is the runner, which means Vidro or Sexson or Johjima or someone else hugging the Mendoza line is the batter. If Ichiro or Lopez is at bat, there probably aren’t any RISP because nobody else can hit.

    Ichiro, Ibanez and Lopez (I-I-L) have the three highest OBP of the regulars on the team. Remove them from the RISP equation and the rest of the team is 73-392 with RISP, a whopping .214. The non IIL players strike out 16% of the time with RISP, and ground into DPs almost 4% of the time. For IIL, it’s 9% K and 2% GDP with RISP.

    Put it this way: if Ichiro is on base, then Ichiro can’t be at bat to knock himself in. If Ichiro is at bat, then Ichiro can’t be on base to get knocked in. That is the crux of the M’s offensive problem. Lauren asked on an earlier thread how the Ichiro Cloning experiement was going. That is what we need, but alas, it’s not going well. The clones keep killing themselves as soon as they see the rest of the team. Unless we can fix that problem, we’re doomed.

  17. Benne on June 10th, 2008 11:45 pm

    Ichiro, Raul and J. Lo need to stop clogging the bases.

  18. Steve T on June 10th, 2008 11:46 pm

    Right on, right on. It’s old news, but news to some, and you can never say it enough. If there was anyone on this team who could hit AT ALL, RISP hitting would rise too. I wonder if Ichiro is a candidate for “most times left on” — gotta be someone like him, with high OBP, low HR, and terrible teammates.

  19. JMHawkins on June 11th, 2008 12:12 am

    Another record I wonder about for this M’s team is the percentage of runs scored on outs. It seems like this team scores a huge percentage of its runs on outs. First and third, no outs, DP scores the run. Man on third, 1 out, grounder to second scores the run. Bases loaded sac fly. It means lots of innings that start out promising and should end up with crooked numbers end up with one run, maybe.

  20. hoser on June 11th, 2008 12:20 am

    So when McLaren challenged Ichiro to steal more bases (75?) he created a monster. Ichiro has been stealing more (26 times in 64 games! (yeah, yeah, I know, low n) nearly on course) and so he is in scoring position more. That causes his teammates to fail with runners in scoring position more. That in turn affects their confidence and we see the result.

  21. terry on June 11th, 2008 1:21 am

    But the offense is good right?

  22. mln on June 11th, 2008 1:33 am

    The solution to the Mariners problem not hitting with RISP is very simple: don’t put RISP in the first place.

    That annoying little problem of hitting with runners on base will vanish like magic!

  23. DKJ on June 11th, 2008 8:15 am

    How does the current Mariner horror compare to the Oakland A’s terrible season last year?

    What would Billy Beane do?

    Purely for speculation, of course. Absent a sudden, Rapture-like disappearance of about a half dozen (maybe more) problem people, it won’t happen in Seattle.

  24. The Ghost of Spike Owen on June 11th, 2008 9:44 am

    The next time somebody says something to me about average with RISP, I’m referring them to the third paragraph of this post. Those numbers are damn near identical. There’s no such thing as clutch hitting.

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