If there’s one theme we’ve seen throughout the first quarter of the season, it’s that the New York Yankees cannot buy a run when there’s runners in scoring position (RISP). The ineptitude concerning batters driving in runners from second and third base is very difficult to watch on a consistent basis. After doing some research into just how bad the Yankees are with runners in scoring position, I was alarmed and somewhat relieved by what I found.
First, let’s take a look at the “percentage of baserunners who scored on the batter’s play” or, simply, BRS%. The Yankees have driven in 13 percent of all runners who reached base. Now, that doesn’t mean it was an RBI and the stat also includes runners who scored from first base. To put that into context, league average is 14 percent, with the Texas Rangers as the leader with 17 percent and the Oakland Athletics in last with 12 percent. The Yankees are tied with the Minnesota Twins, who have 21 fewer chances, but five more runners scored. All said, comparing offenses with the Twins is never a good thing.
Let’s dive into how the New York Yankees are doing specifically with runners in scoring position. Brace yourselves, they’re hitting a paltry .223 with runners on second and/or third. Basically, that’s like having Chris Stewart hitting every time the Yankees have runners in scoring position. Perhaps the most alarming statistic is they have trouble (.206 batting average) at the dish with a runner at third with fewer than two outs. They’ve had 98 plate appearances in that particular situation and they’ve hit safely 14 times and scored 55 runs. If there’s one saving grace, it’s that their BABIP (.169) is unusually low.
Another problem area for the Yankees is their hitting, or lack thereof, in bases loaded situations. Please, hide the women and children before reading this, it’s explicit, they’re hitting .151 with the bases juiced. Yes, that’s worse than having Russell Martin hitting in that situation. Again, they’re BABIP with bases loaded (.143) indicates they are having some bad luck.
Now, baseball is a team game for sure, but let’s take a look at some of the main culprits in the lineup who aren’t driving in runs. Against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Robinson Cano had two opportunities with the bases loaded, but struck out both times. It was indicative of how this lineup has performed as a whole. To drive the point home, Cano, Curtis Granderson, and Alex Rodriguez each hold a 9 percent BRS%. Together, they’ve had 317 chances with runners on base (not just in scoring position) and drove a runner home 37 times. Just for context, Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton drives in 29 percent of all baserunners. When you’re middle-of-the-lineup guys are driving runners home at a below average rate, it’s a minor miracle the Yankees are still in the AL East hunt and three games above .500.
It’s clear the Yankees are not making the most of their chances with runners on base. In fact, you probably didn’t need stats to see just how bad they’ve been. So far this season, they’ve been held to one or fewer runs 11 times. That’s 11 out of 50 games, or nearly 20 percent of the time. If this team wants to sniff the postseason, they need to snap out of this season-long RISP funk. Luckily, the numbers show that they are running into some bad luck. Who knows, maybe they are lumping all of their RISP woes into a two-month package and then blowing up with a .400 average with RISP from June on. We can only hope.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference