Is the Rays situational hitting part of the offensive problem?

One of the reasons the Rays have had trouble putting together a consistently good offense over the past two calendar seasons(mid 2009 until now) has been the lack(and amount) of quality hitters(especially with RISP) coupled with the high KO totals. While the Rays did score 803 runs last season, they struggled scoring for large periods of time last year because of their inability to get hits when they had men in scoring position.This becomes magnified when the roster included so many low/mid average hitters in general. I know BA is not the best stat but it does show the difference in hitting situations to this point. As a team the Rays BA with bases empty they hit .229. With men on base they hit .269 and with RISP they hit .265. That number was the 10th best in baseball. Take out CC’s huge number at .357 and the Rays team total goes down to .251(23rd). That the Rays hit generally lower with RISP than with runners on is significant, especially when you realize how much they struggled so often in so many games to score runs(especially add on runs). These numbers are season total but I think it’s safe to say the numbers were much lower at home, where the Rays score 100 less runs and hit 9 points lower. I don’t know where to find those splits(BA's and w/OBA with bases occupied situations..home and away). It also appears that the trend is continuing this season based on the home/away splits.

If you look at a more acceptable stat(w/OBA). the difference is probably similar in the same hitting situations, although I don’t know how that translates to offensive effectiveness..not knowing what is a significant difference between a high or lower w/OBA number might be. Rays w/OBA with bases empty was .312, with runners on it was .341 and with RISP it was .342.

Here is individual breakdowns…
    BA(empty).. Men on… RISP…… w/OBA..(empty).. Men on… RISP
Upton .235 .241 .234…………………… .329 .326 .341
Shoppach .186 .213 .194………………. .267 .338 .332
Burell .192 .219 .200………………….. .253 .328 .301
Rodriquez .263 .235 .218…………….. .325 .293 .300
Pena .195 .197 .239………………….. .324 .324 .366
Longoria .282 .308 .276…………….. .380 .369 .332
Zobrist .213 .269 .276………………. .309 .325 .331
Bartlett .223 .303 .280………………. .277 .344 .330
Jaso .249 .286 .284…………………. .313 .378 .395
Crawford .271 .345 .357…………….. .335 .400 .393
Aybar .206 .254 .280………………… .281 .305 .326
Brignac .247 .266 .281………………. .302 .304 .318

Of note is the drop-off RISP numbers of Upton, Longoria and Burell in the middle of the order and Bartlett, Shoppach and Rodriquez who seemingly left RISP on all season long. Also I would think a significantly higher w/OBA number with RISP would be wanted. Pena’s number is surprisingly high, Jaso’s produced all season but Longoria’s is disappointingly low. Generally speaking, it seems that Rays hitters are not as productive with RISP compared to when there are just runners on base.

The woeful numbers this season at home seem to indicate that this years roster is fairing even worse and this despite some excellent numbers put up by Joyce and Kotchman. Here are the current hitters breakdown and I'll stick with w/OBA in runners on base situations...empty..runners on...RISP. Again I don't have access to a home/away breakdown. Maybe someone else could find these splits.

Joyce..   .359   .395   .400

Damon  .331   .330   .332

Kotchman  .377  .375  .337

Zobrist     .347    .363   .347

Longoria  .291   .425   .388

Upton   .313   .308   .247

Fuld   .282   .300   .289

Brignac   .229   .168   .167

Rodriquez   .316   .308   .247

Jaso   .259   .310   .225

Shoppach   .256   .258   .236

Even with the high numbers for Joyce, Kotchman, Zobrist and surprisingly Longoria, there is an overall drop off when Rays hitters are hitting with RISP compared to with runners on. And the miniscule figures for everyone else in the order(w/RISP) shows just how little they are contributing. The home numbers for the entire team in situational hitting have got to be awful.


Overall, my concern has always been that with as many average to below average hitters and little power on this roster(and it continues this season), it is very hard to put together a string of hits to score multiple runs, let alone one, especially on a consistent basis. Even with speed, it is hard to get three hits bunched up enough to score a run when the hitters aren’t exceptionally good. Simply put, if so many hitters are just average(using BA or w/OBA), the odds of being able to "keep the train going" are considerably less than if there were one or two hitters who consistently produce at a higher level. Kotchman and Joyce have proven so far, with their elite numbers, what those type of hitters can do for the Rays line-up, especially when everyone else is doing their part. The question will be how far over their heads are they both producing and how much they may regress back to career norms moving forward? The Rays manufactured a lot of runs on outs (which help) but left so many runs on the bases last year and this season it seems even worse with the OBP being way down, especially at home.

Longoria’s struggles this season may be that he does not have CC hitting in front of him(on base with speed and he got a lot of fastballs to hit last season) or Pena behind him(power or the threat).Damon has done a decent job as the lead-off guy but his OBP is not all that great but paired with Zobrist, there have been plenty of opportunities for him. The reason Manny was brought in was for that protection behind him, which never materialized. Joyce may still be just a lefty platoon(and a good one) behind Longoria but the Rays are still struggling to find a RH bat behind Longoria. Anyway you look at Longoria, his production, or lack of it(especially at home), smack in the middle of the line-up, is a major factor in the Rays woes.

While, I still cannot explain why the Rays struggle so much at home, I believe the roster still needs to be designed to add more elite speed up at the top, add more power in the middle to protect Longoria, and maybe most importantly, add one quality, higher average, RBI producer for the middle as well. If it has to be through a platoon situation, so be it. And something needs to be done to improve the “void” that is the bottom of the order.

This post was written by a member of the DRaysBay community and does not necessarily express the views or opinions of DRaysBay staff.

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