I’ve noticed the Yankees batters have been struggling with runners in scoring position – was it mentioned on the YES network broadcast last night? Did Michael Kay touch on it every inning? Did Jack Curry say something about it from the studio in between innings?
Of course I’m being sarcastic. Jack Curry is the baseball equivalent of Dustin Hoffman’s character from “Rainman”. But instead of “I’m a very good driver, I’m a very good driver, I’m a very good driver…” it’s “…runners in scoring position, runners in scoring position, runners in scoring position…” (Fun author’s side note: This subject is why Jack Curry blocked me on social media. A few years back he was droning on about a Yankees losing streak being due to their lack of hitting with runners on. I pointed out to him that at the time, the Yankees were 2nd in MLB in runs scored and they had allowed almost 8 runs per game over their losing streak and that, in fact, their ‘BA with RISP’ had nothing to do with the losing streak. He did the brave thing – he made a condescending remark, then blocked me.)
I’ve said it before, so I’ll say it a little louder for the kids in the back:
Batting average with runners in scoring position is a contributing factor to wins and losses. Sometimes a big factor. That does not mean it is something that can be controlled and therefore is not a mental or physical flaw that can be corrected.
Let’s start with the obvious: If players could pick and choose when they get their hits, baseball would be pretty damn easy, wouldn’t it?!? But, as we know, because there are numerous factors that have nothing to do with the batter (the defense, the umpire, the field, and oh by the way…the pitcher…) in whether or not a player can get a hit, we know a player can’t simply choose to get a hit. Those who imply that’s a controllable skill actually sound quite silly…
Seriously, do we think a player walks to the plate, sees the bases loaded, and says to himself “Hey – I’m going to get a hit now. I’ll choose to make an out next time when there’s only a runner on first. Pretty simple…”
Also, have you ever wondered why OBP is more correlated to runs scored than SLG is, and FAR more than batting average is?
This is exactly why. The team that gets the most opportunities to score runs through high OBP will usually score more runs. The team that focuses on trying to capitalize on the small number of opportunities (BA with RISP) usually loses, because (wait for it…) you can’t control when you can get a hit.
Let’s not forget the weapon of choice for those who want to talk and still manage to say absolutely nothing – small sample size. Every player, if given the same number of PA with RISP, would be the same offensive player they are without RISP. In fact most would do better – with RISP the pitcher is more likely to throw hittable pitches, and pitchers who have situations with many RISP aren’t the best pitchers in the first place.
I know. I should be aware by now that expecting anything other than nuclear grade intellectual laziness from the YES crew is a fault of my own expectations. But I ask you, dear reader, to assiduously avoid the trap of reductionist thinking and be better than that.
The only other option is to block me, the way Jack Curry and Michael Kay have.
Did I miss something? Let me know.