Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Sox And OBP - A Lesson

There is a fantastic article at the Hardball Times about how teams score runs and why, despite the fact that the White Sox hit a lot of home runs and have a very high batting average with Runners In Scoring Position, they are very poor at scoring runs. The bottom line is On Base Percentage.

Here is the most prescient quote:
The White Sox are the truly odd team on this chart -- they lead the league in batting with RISP, but they have the third-least total number of runners in scoring position.

BA with RISP tends to be equal to overall BA. In the AL, teams are batting .271 overall, and .271 with RISP. But the Sox are batting .291 with RISP vs. .268 overall. In other words they've been lucky by hitting well in clutch situations, despite what you may have heard about injuries to their top hitters.

In general, runners get into scoring position one of three ways:
  • - 20% get there by reaching first (via a single or walk) and moving on by stealing a base or by a teammate's "productive out".

  • - 30% get there directly by hitting a double or triple.

  • - 50% get there by reaching first, and subsequently moving on via a positive contribution (hit, walk, etc.) from a teammate.
When first hired, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen talked a lot about getting his runners in motion, but the Sox don't reach first base enough in the first place; they are third from last in singles, walks and HBP combined. They've batted well with RISP and hit a lot of home runs, but reaching scoring position has been their problem.
This problem, of course, is exacerbated by the fact that Ozzie Guillen has started the Low-On-Base-Percentage-All-Stars over the last several days and weeks.

Moral of the story. The Sox need guys who can get on base. Rinse and repeat: The Sox need guys who can get on base.

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