The Red Sox and hitting with Runners In Scoring Position

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 20: Sonny Gray
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 20: Sonny Gray /

As a Boston Red Sox fan, I get frustrated when scoring opportunities are lost.  Is this a specific problem with the 2017 team? Just how bad are the RISP and LOB?

The box score should have been added to the banned-in-Boston-list as the Red Sox lost to the Baltimore Orioles 2-1 on August 27th. A perfect Sunday afternoon for a game and especially enjoying for the O’s and frustrating for the Red Sox.  The frustration happened to focus on two statistical entries that give a clear indication of why Boston lost.

The first is 1-13 with the attachment of RISP that identifies the statistic as Runners In Scoring Position. The translation is one meager hit with 13 attempts with a runner or runners on a combination of the second or third base. Absolutely pitiful.

The second coincides with the first and it is LOB.  My assumption is this stands for what I would need after watching the display – a lobotomy, but it is Left On Base and Boston had a baker’s dozen in that most dismal of categories. When it counted most they collectively fell into the hopper to be flushed away.

The Red Sox as a team have a .261 batting average and that is certainly below the normal expected standards that we in The Nation have become accustomed to witnessing. In conjunction is the well-documented power outage as Boston has forgone the long ball. A higher average and a few more leaving the yard would help.

So just how bad are RISP and LOB?  I am your typical Red Sox fan and prone to over magnification on any indiscretion on offense, defense, and pitching.  Is it really as bad as it looks?  Am I out of context? Does the great wheel of statistics eventually balance out?

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There are some surprises when you examine a certain number and I will start with RISP. The Red Sox hit .274 with RISP and that is third in the American League behind first place Baltimore and second place Houston. This team is just not that bad with RISP. In 2016 Boston hit .282 with RISP which lead the AL.

What is really of utmost importance is RISP with two outs. This season Boston is third in the AL with a .265 average. In 2016 Boston led the AL, but the average was .259.  The World Series champion Chicago Cubs hit just .219 with two out RISP.

The LOB total per game for the Red Sox is 7.08 for 2017 and that is 25rd in MLB.  In 2016 the LOB was 7.16 and was 25th. This season Texas at 6.24 has the lowest LOB average in MLB.  Another glimpse is the Red Sox average per game 3.31 runners left in scoring position per game.  That places Boston 15th in the majors in that category. In 2016 the Red Sox left 3.62 on per game.

Both – quite naturally – are impacted by batting average and OBP (On Base Percentage).  Last season Boston had an MLB leading .347 OBP and this season it has dropped to .333 OBP. More on base the greater the opportunity for success or failure.

Is this really a problem? If one wishes to play a dance with statistics you could debate either yes or no with a level of competency.

Next: Do the Red Sox have a problem with pop-ups?

Branch Rickey said “Baseball is a game of inches” and if you subscribe to that then the two points – LOB and RISP are a problem and not inches, but efficient hitting. Just one or two games can determine to get into the playoffs or to have a favorable seed in the post-season. So – to answer my question – I consider it a problem since both represent statistics that limits your ability to score runs and runs are an item this team needs.