The fascinating and depressing state of the Yankees with RISP

6/5-6/7 Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays
Yankees sign Ricky Orta to minor league deal

The Yankees have officially hit rock bottom. With a .219 batting average with runners in scoring position, the Yankees rank dead last in the AL.* There’s really not much left to say about this. It seems unfathomable that the Yankees can hit .281 without runners in scoring position and .219 with prime opportunities to score.

*The A’s did manage to raise their BA with RISP by 11 points last night, so there’s hope, I suppose.

The oddities don’t end there, though. For instance, while the scoring position situation is bad enough by itself, the Yankees have a real issue when hitting with a runner on third base. When they don’t have a runner on third they’re hitting .276. Any time a runner is standing on third, though, the bats simply die. They’re hitting just .173, 29 for 168, in those situations.

Having multiple men on base is usually a boon for the offense. Pitchers find themselves in a spot, because they’re running out of places to put hitters. But the Yankees let opponents off the hook in these situations, hitting just .196, 50 for 255. When there is just one man on base the Yankees are hitting .275.

Man on first? No problem. The Yankees frequently move that man over, hitting a whopping .291. Unfortunately, they then have multiple men on base, which we’ve seen causes trouble. Once they get that hit with a man on first, putting runners on first and second or first and third, they’re hitting just .205. Their power is their saving grace here, as seven of their 33 hits in these situations have cleared the fence.

We’ve all seen the Yankees’ disastrous results with the bases loaded. To their advantage, the top four hitters in the order have seen the most PA with the bases loaded. To their detriment, they’re a combined 5 for 35. Three players — Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez, and Eric Chavez — are hitless in a combined 18 PA with the bases loaded, though all three have at least one RBI. Andruw Jones doesn’t have a batting average with the bases loaded, having walked and hit a sac fly in his two PA. Nick Swisher, 2 for 4 with a homer and a double; Chris Stewart, 1 for 2; and Mark Teixeira, 1 for 3 with two walks and a double, have been the most effective Yankees with the bases loaded.

If one thing is made clear, it’s that these numbers are absolutely absurd. They just don’t add up, given how well the Yankees hit overall. That gives me some faith that in time they’ll turn around. Until then, though, we must suffer this seeming parody. Then again, they do continue winning. They took two of three in Detroit while going 5 for 31 with runners in scoring position, and went 6-3 on the road trip despite hitting .202 (17 for 84) with RISP. As Ben said to me yesterday, if the Yankees actually figured out how to hit with runners in scoring position they’d never lose a game.

6/5-6/7 Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays
Yankees sign Ricky Orta to minor league deal
  • Lysol

    Raul isn’t hitless with the bases loaded. He hit a grand slam on opening day

    • Zach

      Pretty sure that was a 3-run homer.

  • mike

    its not so much the failures…it appears their approach with the bases loaded , or even with runners on in critical spots, is poor.

    i dont want to get caught up in specific instances, but generally speaking i have seen where the Yanks are super-aggressive with the bases loaded in terms of attacking the pitcher and perhaps expanding their zones…and with the bases loaded IMO it should be just the opposite…

    could this be an element of coaching, where KLong ( or even a reliance on tendencies) are preaching this style?

    I can’t believe that the entire lineup – full of all-stars, HOF’s and other guys used to producing runs throught their careers both for the Yanks and for other teams – all change their approach without some nudge from their coaches.

  • K Starr

    Enough with the failed RISP conversation, obsessing over potential failure sends this reader elsewhere for Soler news and minor league reporting. It’s June 5, the Yankee train is building steam!

  • Typical MIT Nerd

    Honestly, I think this is the philosophy that that they preach. Waiting for your pitch doesn’t help much when the pitcher is throwing decent strikes. Add in guys who don’t optimize for contact, and that that’s a big chunk of the problem and why the offense goes to to die in the post-season.

    Oh, and Russell Martin isn’t a full-time player.

    • mike

      Im not so sure – i look at the Yanks at-bats with the bases loaded and RISP and i see them swinging at pitches they ordinarily would pass on, and even when making contact no one is driving the ball, but rather its a pop-up.

      when i see that, it tells me the team is swinging at sub-optimal pitches, and not letting the pitcher get himself into further toruble.

      In terms of the post-season, i have to agree – the Yanks offense is a lion against half-assed pitching, but mostly a lamb against playoff-caliber pitching

      • Joe Pawlikowski

        They’ve beaten Verlander twice this year. They beat Felix. They beat Shields and Price. You can’t beat ’em all, but the Yanks have done quite well against some of the top pitchers in the league.

      • Havok9120

        This is totally wrong this season. Look at what pitchers we’ve beaten.

      • toad

        See my comment below. The Yankees have a much higher walk rate with RISP than without.

    • Thomas

      Russell Martin is 12th in WAR, 12th in OBP, 18th in wOBA, and 19th wRC+ among catchers with a minimum of 100 PA. He may not be very good and certainly is a downgrade from the Posada years, but sadly he is a full-time player when compared to other catchers.

  • Klemy

    Repeating for EMPHASIS:
    “They’re hitting just .173, 29 for 168, in those situations.”

    This makes me so sad in the pantaloons.

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    We’ll take our wins extra-RISPY.

    Painful but a win is a win.

    Would Joe ever consider a squeeze? ever?

    • Havok9120

      Uhhh. No. Why should he? What combo of guys on this team would you trust to pull that off? You need a guy who bunts well at the plate and someone with speed on third.

      • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

        Not really speed on 3rd. Just not Montero speed… It’s the element of surprise. Even ARod has a bunt this year. As does Ortiz. Jeter, Martin, Grandy and Nunez and Gardner when healthy could do it. You could even try an unusual hit and run if a batter would “give himself up” rather than trying to cream the ball. Just lay the damn bat on the ball and hit a weak grounder.

        of course, none of this will happen with Girardi.

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    The loss to the Tigers in the 9th was Rispy suicide. Cano swings at a 1-0 inside fb after 2 hit by pitch batters and a walk loads the bases.

    Cano is very good at baseball in spite of the fact that he is not very smart between the ears.

  • Now Batting

    At what point is the sample size with these numbers no longer statistically insignificant? We’re talking about a third of the season already. At some point psychology has got to start to be considered a factor.

    • toad

      The difference is highly significant statistically. They’ve had 544 PA’s with RISP. That’s plenty to draw a conclusion from.

      Interestingly, many of the political polls we read about use a sample of about 500 voters.

      • toad

        Oddly, though, the difference in OBP is small and not significant – .344 to .322. This suggests, correctly, that the Yankees are better at getting walks with RISP than at other times. The numbers are 65/544 = 11.9% with RISP, and 119/1493 = 8.0% without.

        So maybe the answer is not, as some commenters have said, lack of patience at the plate.

  • Clu Heywood

    The issue I see is in the lineup as your no. 2 hitter really shouldn’t have almost twice as many RBI and HR as the no. 4 hitter. The other issue is tougher to identify, because it involves me presupposing what the mindset of the batter is, kind of like mike did above. I agree with mike though. I just don’t see Yankee batters going up in those situations with any sort of plan. I know we’re not gonna squeeze, but it’s okay to hit behind the runner sometimes, you know? They just seem to want to attack in these situations and their aggressiveness isn’t paying off. Maybe too many homerun drills with K. Long and not enough emphasis on good old fashioned situational hitting.

  • Kevin

    I think the problem is when the bases are juiced,they think they need to be the hero by hitting a grand slam. In the Detroit game, a simple base hit by Cano would have given us the lead.

  • RI$P FTW

    It’s all a set-up for the post-season. The Yankees are going to be swing-happy all season.
    When the post-season starts, pitchers will avoid the strike zone and voila!! The Yankees hitters will be ahead in the count and have them where they want them.


  • OMG! Bagels!

    I know lack of RISP is frustrating and some games the offense has been absolutely awful but do they get on base more than others, hit sac flies less than other teams, swing for the fences more, press too much? How different could their approach be than all other teams? I’m not sure how you get to the basement of this stat. Are there other things to look at that contribute to failure with RISP and is failure with RISP accurate?

  • Cuso

    “The Yankees have officially hit rock bottom.”

    Let’s not tempt fate, hmm? They could be so much worse, and to think that it “could only get better” from where they sit is to set ourselves up for major disappointment.

    They dodged rock bottom.