So the Rays are Horrible With a Man on Third and Less Than 2 Outs?

Recently, there has been quite a bit of debate about whether the Rays are using the right processes in the above scenario.  I thought a good way to end the conjecture and look at this rationally would be to look at some data.  Baseball-Reference came through again (what can't those guys do). 

#Willy Aybar
Jason Bartlett
Pat Burrell
*Carl Crawford
*Gabe Gross
Michel Hernandez
*Akinori Iwamura
*Matthew Joyce
Gabe Kapler
Evan Longoria
#Dioner Navarro
*Carlos Pena
Shawn Riggans
B.J. Upton
#Ben Zobrist
League Average
Team Total
<23B Scr %
2 1 50%
1 1 100%
2 2 100%
5 3 60%
5 3 60%
0 0
3 1 33%
0 0
0 0
13 8 62%
8 1 13%
7 4 57%
0 0
1 0 0%
1 1 100%
    51%
48 25 52%

Much of the dialogue has centered around the Rays not getting "productive outs".  The major scenario here is when there are less than 2 outs and a man on third.  Some have said that the main objective should be to hit a deep FB to score the run or hit to the right side of the infield.  In the following workbook I have looked at the roughly top 100 pitchers by WPA this year.  You will see their success rates when facing this scenario over the last 4 years.  I wanted to look at it from this perspective to see if this is a situation where a pitcher has an advantage.  I have not broken it down by how the run was scored, but you will see each pitchers number of chances, how many times they allowed a run, and how many times they were able to strikeout the batter.  In the Summary columns you will see their 4 year averages of allowing a run and striking out the batter.  These show the extremes of worst and best case scenario, respectively.  You will notice a positive relationship between a pitcher having a high WPA and a low Runs scored here.  This makes sense as better pitching is going to succeed more often here.  The second chart shows a positive relationship between pitchers with high K-rates and low Run scoring success rates, which is also intuitive.  One thing to add, somehow Justin Verlander has been in this situation 5 times and allowed 6 runs!

Workbook CLICK ME

 

In the third tab you will see how the Rays have fared in this situation this year.  Currently, we are above league average by scoring that runner 52% of the time.  League average is 51%.  If you took out Navi's 1 run scored in 8 chances this number goes to 60%.  Clearly, he is off to a rough start, but don't let Ole Squat Round completely change your opinion of how were are doing in this situation.  Going into this my opinion was that 20-30% of the time that a player swings "productively" he will drive the runner in.  Though this data does not delve into that explicitly, I was clearly well below the actual averages.  So take a few minutes and review what we have here as it is quite a bit of data you are not going to find anywhere else.

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