Mailbag: The Extra Base

Yanks hold on for 12-8 win over Tigers
Game 111: Escape from Detroit
(REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)

Sandeep asks: Is it just me, or does it seem like the Yankees have had an inordinate number of guys not score from second on singles or first on doubles lately? Is there any stat that measures that?

The Yankees and their season-long RISP woes are well-documented, but it seems like they’ve been compounded by a number of hits in those situations that do not score runs. Infield singles, line drives that happen to land right in front of an outfielder, dinky bloops, stuff like that can prevent a runner from scoring from second on a base hit. Since Baseball-Reference has a statistic to measure pretty much everything, we can dig into this a little. Let’s start with situations where there is a man on second and a single is hit…

Tm R/G RS% XBT% 2ndS 2ndS3 2ndSH
NYY 4.91 30% 39% 121 51 66
LgAvg 4.49 31% 40% 120 45 71
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/9/2012.

XBT% is just the number of times the team has taken the extra base on a hit overall, so the Yankees are essentially league average in that regard. They’re also league average in RS%, which is the percentage of baserunners that eventually score. They’ve had 121 instances where a runner was on second base when a single was hit this season, and that runner only scored 66 times (54.5%). The league average is 59.2%. The Yankees are below average in this department, but the difference between them and league average is only about six instances of a runner not scoring.

Somewhere along the line, the Yankees have had four baserunners not advance from second at all on a single. That’s a combination of guys getting thrown out at third base/home plate or having to hold up on a bloop hit that looked catchable, something like that. You’d thing that a team like the Rays or the Angels would score runners from second on a single the most often, right? Nope, it’s the Blue Jays at 70.2%. The Royals are dead last at 51.8%, just a bit worse than the Yankees. Now let’s look at runners scoring from first on a double…

Tm R/G RS% XBT% 1stD 1stD3 1stDH
NYY 4.91 30% 39% 54 33 19
LgAvg 4.49 31% 40% 58 34 22
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/9/2012.

The Yankees have hit a double with a man on first base 54 times this year, and only 19 runners have scored (35.2%). The league average is 37.9%, so again they’re below average. The difference is just one instance of a runner not scoring from first on a double, however. The runner moved to third base 33 times (61.1%) and was thrown out at either third or home on two occasions. The two best teams at scoring from first on a double are the Rays (56.9%) and the Athletics (53.1%) while the Rangers (27.5%) are dead last. I’m guessing their third base coach holds up a lot of guys thinking there’s no point in risking it given their offense. The Twins are the only other team to score from first on a double less than one-third of the time at 28.1%.

So at the end of the day, yes, the Yankees do have fewer runners score from second on singles and from first on doubles. It’s not a ton fewer than the league average but it’s lower nonetheless. I’m guessing it has a lot to do with generally slow runners like Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, and Raul Ibanez — you can look at the success rates of the individual players right here, but the sample sizes are tiny — as well as a generally conservative third base coach in Robbie Thomson. I don’t know if this problem is something that has just popped up of late, but anecdotally it seems like it’s been happening all season long. I seem to remember lots of RISP hits that didn’t score runners back during the dark days of May.

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Yanks hold on for 12-8 win over Tigers
Game 111: Escape from Detroit
  • Eddard

    Robbie Thomson was finally aggressive last night and what do you know, it worked. Per fangraphs, he increased his WAR from -1.2 to -.5. I think in the offseason Joe needs to take a look at market of 3rd base coaches and seriously consider replacing Thomson.

    • Mike Myers

      I wouldnt go that far. Just because he was agressive one night and it worked doesnt mean anything. Dont be that guy.

    • Steve (different one)

      I remember when Bobby Meacham was here, and he was very aggressive. Fans hated that too. Basically the 3B coach should be aggressive but never get anyone thrown out.

      Is this coming up because Ichiro was held in the 9th inning on Tuesday? Because that looked like it was pretty clearly the right call.

      • Mike Myers

        Also, lets not forget sending/holding guys at 3rd is only part of his job. He works with the players all day.

      • jjyank

        He also seemed to catch a lot of flack around here when he held up Chavez the other night. You know, even when Chavez would have been out by like 40 feet.

    • to the track…to the wall..we are tied!

      WAR for base coaches?

      I think we’ve reached critical mass.

  • tyrone sharpton

    anyone else here realize that Yankee stadium played host to a big time soccer game yesterday? i had no idea

    • http://www.twitter.com/_swarlesbarkley Drew

      I am really disgusted that the Yankees let those dirty soccer hethans into my beloved stadium and soiled the Cathedral in the Bronx.

      Pretty sure that’s why they are slumping.

      • Brian S.

        Racist!!!!

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Did the soccer coaches hold runners at 3rd and keep them from scoring as well?

      • Cris Pengiucci

        Reply fail. This was in response to Tyrone Sharpton’s comment.

        • tyrone sharpton

          oo look at you so smart wow congrats on correcting me! thought this was the open thread. here’s an imaginary cookie for ya

          • Cris Pengiucci

            Thank you. Please make it chocolate chip, as I enjoy those the most. Double Stuff Oreo is my second choice.

  • DERP

    Can someone explain the lineup today? No Nix, Jones, or Mcgehee

    • Steve (different one)

      You realize Fister is righty, right?

      • DERP

        Huge fail on my part. I typed in his name in google and the bio on the right side of the page said that he is left handed. Looking again, it says he bats left handed and says nothing about how he throws.

      • Brian S.

        Maybe Fister has a reverse platoon split?

        • The Real Greg

          Nope

          .221/.286/.292 righties
          .277/.301/.450 lefties

          Unless you were being sarcastic, which in that case, I apologize

  • VCR1111

    Great article…I wondered about this situation myself. Quick question for anyone out there. Could someone explain to me what the following means, and give me examples of players who do well and players who do poorly in these departments? Thanks!!

    1) +wRC
    2) W.A.R
    3) LOOGY

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Under the “Resources” tab at the top of this page, click on “Guide to Stats” for an explanation of these.

      • VCR1111

        Thanks!!

    • jjyank

      I’m no stat head, but here’s my layman’s way of understanding:

      1. wRC+ is weighten runs created. It’s park and league adjusted, and it measures how much above or below average a player is at the plate. 100 is league average, and any number above or below is the percent they are above or below league average. For example, a player with a 120 wRC+ is 20% above league average, and a 90 wRC+ is 10% below league average.

      2. WAR is wins above replacement. Similar concept to wRC+ kind of, in that it measures how many “wins” a player is above replacement level. So a WAR of 2 is 2 wins above a replacement level caliber player. WAR takes fielding into consideration too, which is part of the reason some don’t take a lot of stock into it (as fielding metrics are flawed).

      3. LOOGY is a Lefty One Out Guy. Just short hand for a lefty specialist. Think players of the Clay Rapada ilk.

      Hope I was somewhat helpful. I’m not very familiar with the formulas for wRC+ and WAR though.

      • VCR1111

        I appreciate it! This helped a bunch…thanks jjyank.

    • Deep Thoughts

      Thanks for asking and welcome aboard. No one should give you a hard time if you ask questions and make an attempt to listen or learn something occasionally before shooting from the hip.

  • blake

    If they had Montero’s speed in the lineup they wouldn’t have this problem.

    • pat

      +1

      • Cris Pengiucci

        If Montero was on the team, they’d be on pace for 162 wins! (Well, maybe not 162, but at least 161). :-)

  • fabricio

    I would replace robbie thompson cause i remember last year in the alds against the tigers he held up Arod at third whe he could have given us a tied ballgame

  • Deep Thoughts

    Yeah, it’s generally slower runners. OR maybe there’s nothing dumber than getting thrown out at third or home on a team that leads professional baseball in HRs and has nine guys in double figures throughout the lineup.