RISP: the Giants and the National League

Prompted by El Person in the PGT, I decided to look up stats with runners in scoring position for teams across the league. We all know how bad the Giants are with RISP, but I wanted to look a little bit closer and see who was getting all the PA with RISP. This post was also partially inspired by a Dan Szymborski tweet:

Dan Szymborski@DSzymborski

Brandon Crawford's had RISP in 33% of PA. Melky Cabrera, 34%. Awesome lineup construction there, Giants.

First, the league averages. National League teams have batted 14,400 times (data not including games of 7/19) and they have an OPS+ of 103 with RISP, which means the league, as a whole, hits 3% better with RISP than normally.* The Giants, as I'm sure you're aware, have a .639 OPS with RISP, which is awful. That's good for a 73 sOPS+, or in other words an OPS that's 27% worse than the league average with RISP.

*I used OPS+ because this data was easiest to find on Baseball-Reference. All data in this post is from Baseball-Reference.

The top 5 Giants in PA with RISP are Melky Cabrera (106), Buster Posey (105), Angel Pagan (92), Brandon Crawford (82), and Brandon Belt (79). Their sOPS+ are, respectively, 126, 130, 104, 40, and 97. First three, all good. Melky, Buster, and Angel have all been better than league average with RISP. When we get to the fourth name, however, we get to the start of the problem. Crawford has put up a line that is 60% worse than league average for 82 PA. That's a huge deal. Rounding out the top 5 is Belt, who's been slightly worse than league average with RISP, but nothing too serious.

The rest of the highlights: Pablo, Schierholtz, and Hector are the only three players with more than 100 PA to post an sOPS+ higher than league average, at 112, 107, and 103, respectively...Blanco, Theriot, Arias, and Burriss all have an sOPS+ below 60 while combining for 233 PA with RISP. That's 24% of all Giants' PA with RISP...Burriss has a sOPS+ of 2 over 32 PA with RISP.

My next step was to compare this to other teams in the National League. The Giants have a team OPS+ of 101 but score only 3.98 runs per game, .21 R/G lower than the league average. Do their woes with RISP, and their instance on giving those opportunities to clearly inferior players, have something to do with this?

There are three teams in the NL who have an OPS+ higher than the league average of 94, but have scored fewer R/G than the league average of 4.19. The Giants, obviously, are one of them. The other two are the Washington Nationals and the Pittsburgh Pirates.* The Pirates, who score 4.1 R/G, have an sOPS+ of 95 with RISP. The Nationals score 4.16 R/G and have an sOPS+ of 93.

*It is interesting to note that those three teams are all the division leaders as on 7/19.

In what is certainly the most obvious statement that you will read all day, teams who hit well with runners in scoring position tend to score more runs than those that don't. The correlation coefficient between R/G and sOPS+ with RISP is 0.83, indicating a high correlation. This makes sense. It also makes sense that teams who don't hit well with RISP, no matter how good they hit otherwise, will struggle to score runs.

A huge hurdle to scoring runs for the Giants is their inability to hit with RISP. Perhaps it is telling then that the team's four worst hitters (with over 100 PA) have taken a quarter of the PA with RISP while the three best hitters only account for 28%. It seems to me that, as Szymborski indicates above and many fans and analysts have been saying all season, lineup construction and the lack of actual major league-caliber players in the bottom half of the lineup has really hampered the team's ability to score runs.

This is all very obvious, of course, but it was interesting to look at the numbers. This FanPost would have been a lot fewer words and a lot more charts if I knew how to do charts in the FanPost editor system, but I don't, so you got 800 words on something you probably could have figured out on your own anyway. Cheers!

Conclusion in three sentences: The Giants are terrible with RISP. As a result, they score fewer runs than they should. But this is what happens when you give Crawford, Theriot, Arias, and Burriss a quarter of your best run-scoring opportunities.

This FanPost is reader-generated, and it does not necessarily reflect the views of McCovey Chronicles. If the author uses filler to achieve the minimum word requirement, a moderator may edit the FanPost for his or her own amusement.

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