Mailbag: The Extra BaseBy
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…
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…
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.