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Nevada Twins Fan

Inability to drive in runs

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The Twins lost 2-1 yesterday, wasting a pretty good season debut by P.J. Walters. From the AP story:
The struggling Twins offense couldn't come up with a timely hit. Minnesota went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and stranded six runners over the final four innings.
"We had plenty of chances, but it just didn't work out for us tonight,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Hm. On offense, the Twins had 5 hits total, but 6 walks to go with them. The Jays had 7 hits, and no walks. The Jays grounded into two double plays; the Twins didn't ground into any but had a runner cut down on a fly ball. The teams had two extra base hits apiece:, a double and a homer for the Jays; two doubles for the Twins. For the game:

TOR: BA=.219 OBP=.219 SLG=.344 OPS=.563
MIN: BA=.161 OBP=.297 SLG=.225 OPS=.522

These are both poor batting results, as you could expect in a 2-1 game. OPS isn't the greatest stat in the world, for various reasons - but it says that in this game, Toronto did a little less poorly. The Twins did a nearly acceptable job at getting guys on base (league average OBP this year is .317), but their slugging was putrid (league SLG is .405). The eventual game winning hit was Bautista's home run. Mauer and Dozier apparently gave the ball a ride but only collected doubles. That turned out to be the difference in the game.

Walks are better than outs, doubles are better than singles, and homers trump them all. Bautista didn't have anyone on base when he connected. But he put himself in scoring position nonetheless while standing at home plate, and the Jays won. (Since the Twins only run was scored on a walk, this means two of the three runs in the game were not covered by the RISP statistic, for what that's worth.)

For the season, the Twins are 10th in the league in getting on base. They are dead last in slugging average (and in home runs in particular). Not coincidentally, they are also dead last in runs scored. The table setting is below par, and the power is simply not there at all. Adding Komatsu and Mastroianni only addresses the table setting, at best, and does nothing for the glaring need, throwing the offense further out of balance even if they do better than the players they replaced.

Until both facets of the game improve, and a balance between getting on base and driving runners in is achieved, run scoring is going to remain at a premium.

And until such time as the Twins still lose despite getting better game-OPS than their opponent, lamenting about 0-9 with runners in scoring position is for, well, losers.

Updated 05-13-2012 at 12:43 PM by ashburyjohn

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  1. J-Dog Dungan's Avatar
    Their main problem the last few years when it comes to hitting is that their ability to drive runners in when they are in scoring position is extremely low. In several years before 2010, the Twins were always among the highest in average with RISP. Now, they have dropped to last (or nearly last) in that category because they keep choking with RISP.
  2. ashburyjohn's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by J-Dog Dungan
    Their main problem the last few years when it comes to hitting is that their ability to drive runners in when they are in scoring position is extremely low. In several years before 2010, the Twins were always among the highest in average with RISP. Now, they have dropped to last (or nearly last) in that category because they keep choking with RISP.
    Interesting, I don't know if I had heard that before. It seems like something that could be looked up. There are RISP stats on baseball-reference.com, both for league as a whole, and for individual teams. So I gathered information for years 2009-2012, for Batting Average, for OPS, and for "Runs per Plate Appearance", to see if any trends jump out. I'm doing it by hand, so I don't have time to go back an arbitrary number of years.

    BA and OPS ought to be more or less comparable concepts whether in total or when just looking at RISP; but actual runs scored measured by R/PA will naturally be a *lot* higher in RISP situations than for all plate appearances, because, well, there are runners on base every time. I'm just looking for trends, anyway. Here's what I compiled, and I really hope I didn't make any errors in either transcription or (in the case of R/PA) my long division. (Sorry I don't know how to line these up in columns in this text editor.)

    AL BA OPS R/PA
    2012 Tot .250 .722 .114
    2012 RISP .261 .749 .325
    2011 Tot .258 .730 .117
    2011 RISP .259 .743 .332
    2010 Tot .260 .734 .116
    2010 RISP .258 .739 .325
    2009 Tot .267 .764 .125
    2009 RISP .269 .774 .345

    Twins BA OPS R/PA
    2012 Tot .236 .660 .092
    2012 RISP .233 .706 .279
    2011 Tot .247 .666 .103
    2011 RISP .248 .673 .320
    2010 Tot .273 .762 .125
    2010 RISP .285 .780 .347
    2009 Tot .274 .774 .129
    2009 RISP .278 .799 .367

    What I see as a baseline (league-wide) is this:
    1) Batting average normally is not too different in RISP situations, maybe a little higher overall but in 2010 it was slightly lower.
    2) OPS (which measures walks to homers and everything in between) always is a little higher in RISP situations.
    3) R/PA is hard to compare but 2009 was a higher-offense year than the years since then.

    Then what I see for the Twins specifically is this:
    1) Their batting average in 2012 is a little lower for RISP situations, but on a scale seen league-wide in 2010. In 2010 their BA was a lot higher in RISP situation, contrary to the league.
    2) Their OPS rises in RISP pretty much like it does for the full league, each of these years.
    3) Their offense was better than league-average in 2009 and 2010 and their RISP stats reflect that, and their offense in 2011 and (especially) in 2012 is below league average and their RISP stats reflect that too.

    It still seems to me that the record indicates that if they improve their overall offense, the RISP part of it will take care of itself too. They don't merely need better production during rallies. They need better production, period.
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