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How Do the Rays Fare With a Runner on 3rd and Less than 2 Outs

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There has been a lot of chatter this week about the Rays inability to score runners from third base with less than two outs following the Rays twice leaving the bases loaded with no outs in a game versus the Red Sox.  Certainly, it was a painful night. If not for Evan Longoria's heroics, the noise surrounding the topic would be even louder. Let's take a look at how the Rays have fared in situations with a runner on third with less than two outs compared to the rest of the American League.

 

First the Raw #'s. Runs per AB is a little weak as it does not take into account how many runners were on base. S/AB is Sac Flys +Sacrifice Bunts Per AB:

 

R/AB

BB%

K%

BA

OBP

SLG

ISO

S/AB

BAL

0.99

12.0%

11.2%

0.412

0.451

0.644

0.379

10.3%

LAA

1.05

12.5%

12.5%

0.427

0.437

0.615

0.297

16.2%

TBR

0.93

13.8%

18.9%

0.365

0.432

0.604

0.381

11.6%

CLE

0.89

13.2%

20.5%

0.326

0.391

0.524

0.316

12.0%

SEA

0.88

9.4%

14.5%

0.347

0.371

0.534

0.295

14.5%

CHW

0.82

9.9%

18.9%

0.322

0.357

0.544

0.339

12.2%

NYY

0.87

11.6%

11.2%

0.337

0.387

0.508

0.275

10.4%

OAK

0.9

14.0%

14.0%

0.275

0.356

0.479

0.329

13.1%

BOS

0.85

13.4%

17.9%

0.314

0.382

0.452

0.229

12.6%

TOR

0.84

10.9%

14.5%

0.311

0.345

0.47

0.268

14.1%

DET

0.83

8.5%

16.0%

0.284

0.335

0.475

0.296

12.3%

TEX

0.83

10.0%

19.0%

0.291

0.325

0.437

0.238

16.7%

MIN

0.85

8.0%

12.9%

0.305

0.326

0.425

0.192

16.0%

KCR

0.69

7.4%

16.7%

0.275

0.312

0.431

0.246

9.4%

Avg

0.88

11.2%

15.6%

0.33

0.375

0.513

0.293

13.0%

 

Wow. The Rays OPS with a runner on third and less than two outs is 1.036. Their strikeout number is  ugly, but their slugging more than offsets the failed opportunities' caused by the strikeouts.

Now let's clean it up and look at the team ranks:

 

R/AB

BB%

K%

BA

OBP

SLG

ISO

S/AB

BAL

2

6

1

2

1

1

2

14

LAA

1

5

3

1

2

2

6

2

TBR

3

2

12

3

3

3

1

12

CLE

5

4

15

7

4

6

5

11

SEA

7

12

6

4

8

5

8

4

CHW

14

11

13

8

9

4

3

10

NYY

8

7

2

5

5

8

10

13

OAK

4

1

5

14

10

9

4

6

BOS

10

3

11

9

6

12

14

8

TOR

11

9

7

10

11

11

11

5

DET

13

13

9

13

12

10

7

9

TEX

12

10

14

12

14

13

13

1

MIN

9

14

4

11

13

15

15

3

KCR

15

15

10

14

15

14

12

15

 

The Rays are in the top 3 teams in each category outside of strikeouts and small ball  (sacrifices). They fare far better than the Red Sox and Yankees as well.  The Rays ability to capitalize with runners on third and less than two outs is a strength rather than the perceived weakness.

 

So now we know the Rays hit far better than average in this situation. What about their relative ability to score that runner from third given a plate appearance. (Here Scr means the runner scored during that plate appearance):

 

<2,3B

Scr

%

#Willy Aybar

16

9

56%

Jason Bartlett

15

11

73%

Pat Burrell

16

8

50%

*Carl Crawford

23

15

65%

*Gabe Gross

13

7

54%

Michel Hernandez

8

5

63%

*Akinori Iwamura

13

7

54%

Gabe Kapler

15

9

60%

Evan Longoria

49

22

45%

#Dioner Navarro

23

11

48%

*Carlos Pena

38

17

45%

B.J. Upton

21

6

29%

#Ben Zobrist

18

8

44%

League Average

52%

Team Total

275

138

50%

 

So league average says  50% of a player will get the run across in 52% of opportunities. The Rays are just below league average at 50% but remember, if the bases aren't loaded a walk won't score the run.  The Rays lead all teams in walk rate in this situation at 13.8% which will reduce the % of runs scored. Most individual players are above league average.  Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria are below average at scoring the run, but are near the top of the team in slugging which will score multiple runs. Is it worth sacrificing that slugging chance to insure one run will score? Not usually. B.J. Upton has a pretty massive failure rate at 71%. This is the most concerning number out of any of this.

 

One important caveat: Not all situations were created equally. To fail twice late in a tied game is very painful. The primary goal needs to be to get a run across to capture the lead. The effect on win expectancy by that run is tremendous. In lower leverage situations it makes more sense to try to maximize the amount of runs in a rally, rather than trying to ensure at least something on the board at the cost of less potential run production.  I don't think the Rays have had a late game pattern of stranding a runner on third with less than 2 outs in close games beyond that isolated game.