Issues With Two Outs

May 17, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore (55) talks with catcher Chris Gimenez (16) and first baseman Carlos Pena (23) on the mound int he first inning against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

It was mentioned in yesterday's game day thread by someone that it seems as if the Rays give up more two out runs than other teams. Sometimes perception is not reality when you spend most of your time watching one team and who they are playing, but in 2012, perception is reality. The Rays are indeed giving up more two out runs than most teams. In fact, they are giving up more two out runs than any other team in the American League and are only one off the pace for the overall "lead" in major league baseball.

What gives?

The table below shows how each team in the American League does pitching with two outs this season. The American League average slash line for pitching with two outs is .236/.318/.381 and since the Rays are dead last in the league in this split, it is easy to compare them to the league average in the table.

Rk PA R SO/BB BA OBP SLG HBP IBB ROE BAbip sOPS+
1 OAK 541 57 1.50 .231 .318 .321 3 6 5 .273 84
2 BAL 556 67 2.93 .227 .290 .354 5 6 13 .272 84
3 LAA 525 56 1.77 .222 .314 .333 5 7 10 .264 86
4 CHW 518 62 2.24 .218 .295 .360 5 1 1 .251 87
5 TEX 519 58 2.78 .221 .295 .362 4 0 5 .276 88
6 CLE 539 60 1.45 .237 .330 .328 2 3 2 .280 90
7 TOR 523 65 1.89 .218 .300 .385 1 2 8 .244 96
8 KCR 518 63 1.55 .238 .340 .372 4 5 4 .289 105
9 MIN 480 78 2.06 .251 .310 .403 2 4 3 .272 103
10 BOS 546 78 1.89 .246 .332 .402 8 1 3 .282 110
11 SEA 533 80 2.32 .229 .304 .435 5 2 0 .249 110
12 DET 524 71 3.00 .252 .324 .429 5 5 4 .321 115
13 NYY 538 82 2.43 .259 .336 .427 5 5 7 .319 118
14 TBR 575 91 1.59 .254 .357 .421 3 10 9 .299 123
TOT 7435 968 2.03 .236 .318 .381 57 57 74 .278 100
Generated 5/24/2012.

The Rays do not have the highest batting average allowed with two outs, but they do indeed have the highest on base percentage allowed and are among the highest with two out errors while pacing the league with two-out intentional walks. How do these numbers compare to the Rays pitching with no outs or one out? The team is third best in the league when pitching with nobody out while it is second best in the league pitching with one out. These out splits are shown below:

Split PA R SO/BB BA OBP SLG HBP IBB ROE BAbip sOPS+
0 outs 567 36 3.16 .246 .300 .381 4 0 8 .289 89
1 out 516 52 3.93 .218 .270 .330 6 2 5 .262 67
2 outs 575 91 1.59 .254 .357 .421 3 10 9 .299 123
Generated 5/24/2012.

The team does its best work with one out but the two out number has been an issue for all of the starting pitchers this season while the relief core has held up surprisingly well.

Rk PA R SO/BB BA OBP SLG HBP IBB ROE BAbip sOPS+
1 James Shields 96 13 2.00 .265 .365 .470 1 0 1 .315 138
2 Jeremy Hellickson 83 9 1.00 .286 .398 .500 0 0 1 .302 157
3 David Price 82 9 4.20 .273 .317 .390 0 1 0 .352 102
4 Matt Moore 79 20 0.63 .323 .468 .565 1 3 1 .347 196
5 Jeff Niemann 47 8 3.33 .273 .319 .477 0 0 1 .313 126
6 Wade Davis 35 5 1.60 .233 .343 .333 0 0 1 .286 95
7 Burke Badenhop 32 5 2.00 .214 .313 .357 0 2 3 .263 92
8 Joel Peralta 32 9 2.25 .179 .281 .464 0 0 0 .176 111
9 Fernando Rodney 30 2 3.50 .143 .200 .179 0 1 1 .190 10
10 Jake McGee 25 5 1.75 .238 .360 .286 0 2 0 .357 88
11 J.P. Howell 18 1 2.00 .133 .278 .133 1 0 0 .182 22
12 Cesar Ramos 11 1 1.00 .250 .455 .250 0 0 0 .400 108
13 Alex Cobb 9 0 1.00 .250 .333 .375 0 0 0 .286 103
14 Brandon Gomes 6 0 1.00 .000 .333 .000 0 1 0 .000 4
15 Dane De La Rosa 4 5 0.00 .667 .750 2.000 0 0 0 .500 664
16 Josh Lueke 2 0 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 .000 -100
Team Total 591 92 1.66 .254 .355 .425 3 10 9 .301 123
Generated 5/24/2012.

Matt Moore is responsible for 22 percent of the two-out runs the team has allowed this season but none of the five starting pitchers for most of this season have done better than the league average. Moore has walked 16 batters with two outs this season while walking only 27 all season meaning 59 percent of his walks in 2012 have come with two outs and are a big reason why batters are reaching base against him in those situations so much more often than the other starters. When examining Moore's splits in situations, he becomes more of a two-pitch pitcher with runners in scoring position and two outs as he throws his breaking ball much less in those situations than he does with the bases empty.

In bases empty situations, Moore throws his fastballs 65 percent of the time, his breaking ball 15 percent of the time, and his change-up 20 percent of the time. When the situation changes to runners in scoring position with two outs, Moore uses his fastball 68 percent of the time and his change-up 18 percent of the time but his breaking ball only six percent of the time. His location on pitches with two outs is also an issue. If you watch the television broadcasts when he has pitched, Brian Anderson is quick to point out how Moore sometimes struggles to finish his pitches and leaves them up. The strikezone plots illustrate what he is talking about:

Moorelessouts_medium
Moore2outs_medium

Only David Price comes close to performing at league average as his numbers as his skills stand out above the rest of the rotation. The issue is odd this season because this has not been a problem in past seasons.

These two-out struggles are not just in certain two-out situations, they are even happening when the team retires the first two batters in an inning:

Rk PA R SO/BB BA OBP SLG ROE BAbip sOPS+
1 James Shields 46 2 1.29 .333 .435 .513 0 .393 180
2 Jeremy Hellickson 42 2 0.71 .371 .476 .600 0 .393 217
3 David Price 37 1 6.00 .229 .270 .343 0 .318 80
4 Matt Moore 34 2 0.43 .296 .441 .556 0 .273 194
5 Jeff Niemann 21 1 6.00 .400 .429 .600 0 .538 202
6 Joel Peralta 13 0 0.67 .200 .385 .300 0 .250 107
7 Wade Davis 13 1 4.00 .250 .308 .500 1 .286 135
8 Fernando Rodney 12 0 .167 .167 .250 0 .286 22
9 Burke Badenhop 12 0 .250 .250 .333 1 .333 71
10 J.P. Howell 10 0 0.00 .143 .400 .143 0 .143 70
11 Jake McGee 8 0 2.00 .143 .250 .143 0 .200 20
12 Cesar Ramos 5 0 0.50 .000 .400 .000 0 .000 31
13 Alex Cobb 5 0 1.00 .250 .400 .500 0 .333 165
14 Brandon Gomes 2 0 .000 .000 .000 0 .000 -100
15 Dane De La Rosa 1 0 .000 .000 .000 0 .000 -100
16 Josh Lueke 1 0 .000 .000 .000 0 -100
Team Total 262 9 1.62 .278 .374 .441 2 .331 141
Generated 5/24/2012.

The sOPS+ split shows how the individual or the team did against the league average; numbers below 100 are good while numbers over 100 are worse.

Outs_medium

The immediate thought may be that as Moore shakes off his rookie struggles, that split should quickly even out and they very well may. It isn't possible to look up how David Price affected the split in 2009 when he was going through similar struggles, but this split should get better as the season wears on as it would be rather unusual to see it spike this much from one season to the next given how constant the out splits have been the previous four seasons.

The other factor here is the defensive issues the team has had this season surrounding their unusually high rate of errors. The Rays have committed a league-worst 41 errors this season and nine of them have come in with two outs in the inning which further extends the inning and gives opponents an extra chance or two. As the talent on the defense improves with the return of the full-time players, these numbers should work themselves out.

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