Tampa Bay capped off a frustrating series against the White Sox yesterday. That series found the Rays scoring only seven runs over the course of 27 innings. Yeesh. The White Sox gone following their three game sweep, while the Rays had the day off prior to the Orioles series this weekend. Sure, I could write about how AJ Pierzynski is an enormous asshole and should have been tossed along with Jose Quintana, and manager Robin Ventura after that ill attempted “hit” on Ben Zobrist. However, DRaysBay wrote about it here.
I wrote a piece the other day about the Rays seeming inability to generate runs with men in scoring position. The original piece didn’t take into consideration the injuries that have plagued Tampa Bay this season, among other things. That piece probably should have taken into consideration the Rays offensive production overall as well. Sam, a buddy of this here blog, and I got in a discussion on the subject. Following that discussion, I thought that it would be a good idea to look at a few other noteworthy statistics to get a better idea why some of us end up red faced, and whiny, following any loss that could have…nigh, should have, been a win.
We’ll look at a few standard and advanced statistics (at bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, runs batted in, batting average, on base percentage, slugging average, and on base percentage plus slugging) in six different periods of the 2012 season: overall, April, May, the last seven games, wRISP, and wRISP and two outs. Why April and May? Those months are good samples of what the Rays are capable of when they’re healthy vs. when there are 10 players on the DL.
Overall, Tampa Bay is scoring a higher than average amount of runs, hitting a higher than average amount of home runs, and stealing bases at a good clip. Yet, their batting average is less than the MLB average, both overall and with men in scoring position. To be fair, a teams batting average isn’t the best indication of a successful team. Rather, it is a measure of how many hits a team may be hitting, not a quantitative measure of the type of hits. For that, we’ll look at the slugging percentage, and the on base percentage plus slugging. But I digress.
The Rays are doing a lot of things right, and it’s obvious. And true, the injury situation has really hampered Tampa Bays run production, as you’ll see below. However, the Rays do have a history of not consistently producing when they could or should, extending back into last season. Let’s see if the numbers can clear anything up.
Below is a handy range of on base percentage plus slugging (OPS) values, from excellent to awful. You may want to reference it from time to time.
Also, since pictures are worth a thousand words, I created a table with all of the aforementioned bits o’ statistical information. That marvel of blue number stuffs is below. Give yourself a few moments to take it all in.
The difference between April and May is striking. Tampa Bay had 168 fewer at bats in April than in May, yet had only four fewer runs, two fewer RBI, and two fewer home runs. All the while they hit more doubles and triples, got on base more often, and had a higher SLG and OPS in April. It’s logical to expect the numbers to be better, especially when the Rays came to the plate more often. Why might there be a an offensive drop off then?
It’s common knowledge that May is, historically, Carlos Pena’s worst month. It’s also glaring that Pena, again, had a horrible May. One only needs to look at his slash lines to see the difference from April to May: .412 OBP/.488 SLG/.900 SLG/.286 BA with four homers, 15 runs and 13 RBI vs. .281 OBP/.255 SLG/..536 SLG/.128 BA with three homers, 10 runs, and nine RBI. I’d be hesitant to blame Tampa Bay’s drop-off in production on he alone. A little sleuthing found that both Luke Scott and Ben Zobrist also had lower numbers in May than in April. Though their drop-off wasn’t nearly as substantial as Pena’s. On the other hand Elliot Johnson, Sean Rodriguez, BJ Upton, Matt Joyce, and Will Rhymes all had a fairly good May.
The loss of Longo and Jennings have been big. Imagine how different the numbers may look if Longo and Jennings could have replicated their pre-injury numbers, in May. You could, effectively, tack on 35 more runs, 57 more hits, nine more doubles, three more triples, seven more homers, and 30 more RBI. Thankfully Jennings should be back by the time the Rays get to New York, and Longo shouldn’t be far behind.
RISP has been a big point of concern the last few years. What’s interesting though, Tampa Bay hasn’t had a drop off in production with men in scoring position between this season and last. In fact, the Rays are producing slightly more (uh, like a fraction of a percent…it’s negligible) this season. If you compare the total amount of runs scored with the total number of at bats when men are in scoring position, the Rays drove in runs, just under, 36% of the time last season. They’re driving in runners, just over, 36% percent of the time thus far. That the MLB average is 38%, and the Rays are performing just under that thresh-hold, gives little consolation. Tampa Bay is ahead of only 10 other teams, and close to the bottom third of all of baseball in converting base runners into runs.
What’s more, only 31% of the hits wRISP are extra base hits or home runs. That number drops to 28% wRISP and two outs. Granted 34% of the total number hits are extra base hits, or homers. Not to mention that 28% and 31%, respectively, aren’t far off of that mark. It should be noted too that the MLB average for extra base hits and homers is 33%, and that Rays rank toward the bottom in doubles and homers wRISP. This tells me that the Rays are nickel and diming their way on base, when they could really use an extra base hit in those higher leverage situations. So how do you fix this problem? That’s a really good question.
The Rays ended May with a 14-14 record, seven games over .500. All things considered, that’s not bad. I can only imagine what will happen when Longo, Jennings and to a lesser extent, Keppinger, are healthy and back on the roster.
As with the last piece, and any other really, we encourage any and all of you to post comments. Have at it, turkeys!