Phillies AVG with RISP – Should We Be Concerned?

Posted by Brian Michael, Thu, September 10, 2009 11:04 AM | Comments: 11
Analysis, Posts

Did you read Andy Martino’s Sunday Inquirer article about the Phillies recent “struggles” with runners in scoring position?  He made a case – using a variety of stats – as to why we should not be concerned about this supposed failure to drive in runners.  I was not convinced when I read it initially and I’ve finally crystallized some of the reasons why.

The main reason I think Phillies fans are right to be frustrated – though no more frustrated than at the closer situation – is that RISP involves situational hitting and absolute numbers (i.e. specific hits that could win games).  This is something averages and percentages can not convey.  Here is the first example:

Through the first five months of this season (all statistics in this column cover that period), the team batted .256 with RISP, 11th in the National League and 23d in the majors. (Last year, when it won the World Series, it was an almost identical .265.)

I think .009 percentage points for a team’s batting average represents more than a negligible number of hits. In fact, at the pace the Phillies are going, they should have 1,431 hits this year – 24 more than last year.  Granted, that’s not a huge number but still not one that should be underestimated.  Plus, since the article was written, the Phillies are now batting .251 with RISP.

Then Chase Utley was quoted as saying:

“It is better to have runners in scoring position and not score than to not have runners in scoring position at all. The hits will come.”

I’m not one to disagree with Chase Utley, but it should be known that the Phillies lead the National League in home runs…by 30. We’re talking about driving runners in, not getting on base – they’re different things, and are certainly not mutually exclusive.

Then the idea of productive outs is considered.

The average major-leaguer makes a productive out in 32 percent of his chances; the Phillies have six players overperforming that number.

Big deal.  Like the batting average with RISP, this is a percentage.  There are still plenty of real opportunities where the Phillies have a chance to score runners.  This is more important than just advancing them; thus a more precise statistic should be used.  For instance, when there are runners in scoring position and the Phillies manage a hit, an average of 1.58 runs are scored – tops in the league.  This makes the clutch hit even more important.

Therefore if people think that Phillies fans are getting too emotional in their concern about driving in runners, they are mistaken.  The fact that these at bats are so intense and memorable drives home the importance of situational hits over the average hit.

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  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    With their slugging percentage being as high as it is, you would expect more production with RISP… the starters boast a .458 SLG% to go along with a .261 BA (that’s really good…). On the surface, their clutch performance ratios with RISP aren’t that far off the league averages but their offense is better than most so you would expect RISP numbers to be better. 60% of their HR’s have been solo shots… not too bad… but they’re hitting .214 with RISP and 2 outs which is not what you would expect.

    I could be wrong but I think that this is a little bit strange and is notable… they’re hitting just .186 with a man on third and have only 44 RBI in 157 plate appearances in that situation. That is NOT good… they’re also hitting just .230 with a runner on 2B. Their numbers go up when there are multiple runners on base. To me, this tells me that they’re being impatient in situations where the pitcher is not necessarily trying to throw a strike. With a man on second or third, the pitcher is trying to work around a hitter… with two men on, the pitcher is trying to throw a strike to avoid loading the bases. That’s my interpretation of the situation.

  • Posts: 0 Georgie

    I’m pretty sure “RISP” is some sort of subliminal message, because it’s in my head like a bad Paul McCartney and Wings song.

  • Posts: 0 Repeat!

    The hell with the Wildcat…..with Brian Westbrook, McCoy and Eldra Bunkley….The Eagles could have a three headed monster like the ’07 Giants…Oh, this is a Phillies Board……Yeah the Phils suck w/RISP…what else is there left stay….

  • Posts: 0 Repeat!

    left to say…

  • Posts: 0 joedad

    The Phils had some strange streaks going on. 15 (or whatever it is) straight solo home runs, Jason Werth knocking in just his second RBI in the past few weeks without a home run. 15 for their last 90+ with RISP, etc, etc. My favorite is the Rollins walk rate which is more concerning than anything. The important thing is the team wins one way or another. If they cant hit, they pitch. If they cant pitch, they hit. Their fielding is usually solid.

  • Posts: 0 hotstove

    The phillies are streaky like every team except the yankees. This will not be a issuse cause the pitching has been better imo

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    So to answer the question…”Should we be concerned?” …..I am concerned, but not overly so. This team has shown an ability to get the job done when it counts. Yeah…some of the situations I see are mind-boggling and frustrating….

    But the bottom line is….we have a 6 game lead….we’re on pace for about 94 wins (more than enough to win the division). So we’re going to the playoffs for the third straight year. While that WILL be challenging, I see no reason that the Phillies don’t have as good a shot as any of the other 3 teams in the NL to go to the WS.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    I agree, Chuck.

  • Posts: 0 JAJinPA

    Thank you for your article.

    Many will quickly point out that the Phils are first in the NL in HRs, well, you can’t live by the homer alone. A well rounded team has to be able to manufacture runs when needed and play ‘small ball’ to win on nights when the bats go cold (and we all know that happens with the Phillies!)

    Besides the shitty RISP stats, the Phils bench is pathetic. Bruntlett and Stairs are both liabilities this year. And on one occasion when Stairs managed to draw a walk (as opposed to flying out or striking out), the best Uncle Charlie could do as a pinch runner was Bruntlett? Really?!
    There’s no speed to come off the bench to pinch run, another liability to a team that needs to find ways to win other than with Homers.

    Now that we’ve all had a Championship to savor, our expectations have soared. What the Phils lack in terms of bench, clutch hitting and relief pitching is fixable before the playoffs. We’ve got a good chance to repeat with a little tweaking.

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    the original chuck P – do you know the number of outs in those stituations? Although I might not want to know….anymore running myself into a brick wall will cause a cerebrral hemorrrhage.

  • Posts: 0 Bob Kahn

    I remember the RISP “problem” from last year’s playoff and WS. The Phils had some horrible number for the first two games of the WS. I am sure about this because I have Game 3 taped (I was at the game) and the national announcers keep yapping about RISP.
    Here is the bottom line – offense is about RUNS. I don’t care how you get them – HR, small ball, errors, HPB, whatever. Every run counts the same. If a team has RISP of .300 and 1,000 runs and the Phils have RISP of .250 and 1,100 runs which teams wins??
    RUNS count, everything else is statistical games.

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