RISP woes be gone

One turn through the rotation
No speed in the early going

In the first five games of the 2012 season we’ve seen two things in abundance. First, we’ve seen rough starting pitching performances. But that’s just one turn through the rotation, so it’s a non-issue at the moment. The other is failure with runners in scoring position. The Yankees have been in 70 such situations, and have scored just 20 runs. That’s not encouraging, even early in the season.

The Yankees have faced more situations with men in scoring position than any other team, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. In one way it certainly is; they’re giving themselves plenty of opportunities. But one of the reasons they have so many opportunities is exactly because they fail to cash in those opportunities. After all, if they single with a man on second, the following PA does not come with a man in scoring position. If the batter at the plate is retired and there are fewer than two outs, however, the next PA does come with a man in scoring position. That is to say that this is a two-way street.

What I find most odd about the Yankees’ RISP woes this season is that the process seems to be there. They’re getting on base plenty — their .357 team OBP ranks third in the AL — so they’re setting themselves up to score a ton of runs. Even further, they’re putting together good at-bats when they do have RISP situations. It might not seem like that, since they’re failing so often. But they’re seeing a lot of pitches and working deep counts. Here’s how many pitches per PA they’ve seen in RISP situations in each game.

Note: these are hand calculated.

4/6: 4.29
4/7: 4.22
4/8: 3.86
4/9: 3.86
4/10: 3.76

This is against their team average of 3.95 P/PA, so it’s pretty close overall. At the same time, they’ve seen some success when swinging early in the count. With runners in scoring position they’ve put the first pitch in play nine times. Five of those have resulted in RBI. It’s a bit frustrating, sure, when both Jeter and Swisher put the first pitch in play and kill a perfectly good rally. But overall they’ve had some success doing that. In the PA where they didn’t drive home runs, they’re seeing 4.29 pitches per PA, or a third of a pitch more per PA than their season average.

The process, then, seems to be there. It’s just a matter of time before they start to come through in these situations. It’s frustrating for sure. No one wants to sit through these opportunities and see them score no runs. Soon enough, though, we should see plenty of activity when there are ducks on the pond. Remember, even though they were somewhat frustrating last year their BA with RISP in 2011 ranked 5th in the AL, and their OPS ranked first. The hits will drop.

One turn through the rotation
No speed in the early going
  • Brian

    They will do better when everyone starts to click, no way they all suck this much all year.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    Good piece. Better than the explanation of best OBP = more RISP fails. Of course its part of it but it was good to see why it was bad luck instead of assuming it.

    • jb

      Thank god we traded Jesus.

      • jsbrendog

        yeah thank god the only guy in the lineup other than jeter who has really hit anything is the awful piece of shit who is dhing instead of montero…


      • Sweet Dick Willie

        Jesus is 5 for 18, all singles, w/ 1 RBI

        Raul is 3 for 12, 1 2B, 1 HR, w/ 6 RBI

        What’s your point?

  • Mike Myers

    I feel like we have a similar (and somehow needed) article every year

  • JoeyA

    I think overall, in terms of pure production, this offense will be fine.

    But if you watch the team and dive deeper into all of this, you cant help but see a flawed offense.

    Guys like Tex, Granderson, Swisher & Alex are feast or famine. They are rarely consistent throughout the length of the season, Tex in particular.

    He’ll hit 4-5 HR’s in a week, and go 1-20 in the following games.

    For a top 5 offense in the league, it goes cold way too often to be considered consistent. I can think of only 2 players who have a good shot to hit .300 this season: Cano & Jeter. MAYBE Alex if he stays healthy.

    I’ve lost all faith in Tex to hit consistently. Same goes for Swisher. Just my opinion, but its Swish & Tex that need to be much more consistent at the plate to give this offense the ability to stay consistent throughout the season

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      They are rarely consistent throughout the length of the season…

      There’s no such thing as consistent in baseball. Every player in the history of the universe has ups and downs over the course of the 162-game season. No one gets three hits out of every ten at-bats.

      The myth of “consistency” is one of my biggest bet peeves.

      • Guest


      • JoeyA

        I agree with your statement,

        But you have to admit we have a couple guys who simply go on huge offensive runs (Tex & Swish) and then, at other times, are almost automatic outs.

        I understand nobody is going to get 3 hits out of every 10 AB’s but there has to be middle ground between that and what Texeira and Swisher do.

        To add:


        Do you believe being a switch hitter is somewhat of a disadvantage in terms of consistency?

        IMO, while its great in that it doesnt allow opposition to use a specilist or put you in a disadvantage (Lefty on lefty or righty on righty), it does make it harder for a player to get hot.

        Getting a swing clicking from both sides of the plate must be harder than getting just one swing hot, whether it be lefty or righty.

        I’m not suggesting Tex ditches his LHed swing, but it must be a factor in that our 2 switch-hitters are prone to the largest peaks and valleys in their offensive production

      • radnom

        hurr durrr that doesn’t mean that *relatively* some players are much more streaky than others. I’ve never seen anyone claim that any player never has ups and downs. That doesn’t mean that being a (relatively) consistent hitter has no value.

        • JoeyA

          I’m glad someone understands what I’m saying in all of this.

          Just because Tex ends the season every year with 30HRs and 100+ RBIs doesnt make him consistent.

          You have to look deeper than just the numbers on this subject.

          The offense, while productive, isnt consistent overall and, when you have an offense with streaky hitters, you run the risk of the offense going into a full-fledged slump where nobody hits. We’ve seen this before.

          • thenamestsam

            Do you watch other teams besides the Yankees ever? Because they also go into full-fledged slumps from time to time. Do you have any evidence that it happens more to the Yankees?

    • jsbrendog

      tex grooved a ball the other way for a single as a righty the other day. what happened to that as a lefty? he used to be soo good.

    • Guest

      JoeyA, are you comparing the current Yankees offense to the Platonic Ideal of offensive production, or to other Major League offenses? They are certainly sufficiently flawed to fall short of the ideal, and no doubt create a lot of fan angst as a result.

      But if you’re comparing them to other major league offense, they’re sick in the very best sense of the word. Have been for years now. They get on base, hit for power, and score tons of runs. They’ve been better than a top 5 offense for the last few years, they’ve been more like a top 2 offense if not a top 1 offense.

      Offensive baseball is a game of failure and the Yankees offense does fail a ton…but still fail less than just about every other team in the game.

      • thenamestsam

        This x100. Many people on these boards seem to suffer from only ever watching the Yankees, and the utter lack of perspective that comes with that.

        You can’t really have any idea whether the Yankees offense is extremely consistent or extremely inconsistent unless you have a good sense of how consistent other offenses are because that’s the only reasonable standard by which to judge them.

    • Havok9120

      All offenses do that. Every single one at some point in the year. Heck, all HITTERS do that. Hot cold hot cold hot. Some streaks last longer than others (like Swish’s cold streak to start last season or Jeter’s hot streak for the second half) but everyone in baseball streaks.

      I mean, if you want to argue that long hot streaks make a player “consistently good” then alright. You’d be wrong I think, but alright. After all, if that’s the benchmark than there MIGHT be 40 or 50 “consistently good” offensive players in the league and those will change every year. You can’t judge consistency because it doesn’t really happen. Too many factors go into each at bat, most of which are out of the control of the hitter.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      If a player were to go through a season with the type of consistency you seek, their batting average would be, I shit you not, .6-bazillion. We haven’t had one of those since Wee Willy Willikers in 1875. FACT.

      • JoeyA

        I understand your point and, to an extent, I agree.

        But you have to admit the level of offensive consistency from, say, Robinson Cano, is a lot more than that from Texeira.

        Now, by game 162 they may have similar production (Tex will have higher RBI & HR totals, Cano high Avg. and RS)but you cant say they are similarly consistent due to the season-ending results.

        All im trying to say is, while every player in any offense goes through their slumps, it seems some of the players we rely on for production slump and peak to higher extremes than desired.

        IMO, Robinson Cano is a consistent hitter. Does he get 3 hits for every 10 ABs, NO. but, during a season, we rarely, if ever, consider him an auto out because he’s in a slump. he may go 0-8 or 0-10, but he doesnt stay in slumps for long.

        • thenamestsam

          Why should anyone have to admit something you’re completely speculating about? You have zero evidence for your claims that Cano is more consistent.

          I went looking for a little evidence. I looked at month-by-month OPS splits for last year for Cano and Tex.
          Cano: .979, .712, .842, .859, 1.014, .888
          Tex: .941, .885, .854, .761, .812, .756

          Cano has a standard deviation of .11 on an average of .882, while Tex has a standard deviation of .07 on .834. So Tex was actually more consistent on a month-to-month basis than Cano last year. Is this definitive proof of anything? No, far from it. But if you’re going to claim that Cano is far more consistent over the course of a year than Tex maybe you should provide some evidence for that, because a first glance at the numbers does not support it.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    In other words, exhale……or root for them putting less runners on base.

    • jsbrendog

      YEAH!!! less runnne……i’m going to go now…

  • jayd808

    I thought they were saying Wayne Chen and that led me to “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by Wang Chung. If we start making swiss cheese out of the guy this could be a good intro song at the Stadium.

  • David Ortizs Dealer

    The other is failure with runners in scoring position. The Yankees have been in 70 such situations, and have scored just 20 runs. That’s not encouraging, even early in the season.

    Curious what is the league average, thats 29%. Without a baseline comparison I dont know how much to be alarmed if at all. Last year didnt the Yanks lead in Runners left on base, but also they lead in number of runners ON base so it worked out.

    • Havok9120

      That’s exactly what happened last year, which is why I’m less than concerned that its happening again right now. We’re failing at an anecdotal higher rate than last year, but thats because last year was, um, last year and we’ve only played 5 games this year.

      I’d bet money that it plays out just like it did last year.

  • chmch

    I sat in the stands last game against Detroit and watched them strand runners all day long. We were one solitary measly little single away from moving on. Am I still watching the same team today?

    • gc

      If it means they win 97 games and the AL East (by a lot) again, I’ll take my chances that the one measly little single will come.

      • handtius


  • David Ortizs Dealer

    The one thing I will take from week one is a combo of TB’s pitching and shift is as of now effective. I think K-Long can get some adjustments in place, but we’ll see.

  • michael

    This anecdote comes up very frequently. It’s the beginning of the season so it’s magnified. 2009 started identically… and they scored >900 runs to lead the majors, nbd.

  • joe

    Let me give you example not just with RISP, but overall within an entire season why the Yankees will have a harder time come postseason hitting with RISP. The 1996 Yankees as team struck 220+ times less than the 2011 Yankees. Now think deeply and logically about the importance of this. That means the 2011 team wasted 220+ at bats by striking out as opposed to either walking, getting a hit, or making an out on a ball in play. If the 2011 Yankees used those 220+ at bats by just focusing on putting the ball in play rather than swinging for the fences, then the chances of them not hitting with RISP in the 2011 ALDS could have quite possibly been lower. The more times the Yankees as a team puts the ball in play, not just with RISP, but in all other situations, the better chance they’ll succeed against better pitching. A strikeout guarantees 0 success. A ball put in play with a good hitter guarantees 30% chance of success. I like those chances better than a 0% chance. Now the Yankees early on may be putting the ball in play with RISP in 2012, but the chances of the Yankees overall cutting down on their strikeouts from last year are slim to none.