Are the Jays Truly Hopeless with RISP?

JP - Leon Halip

There has been a lot of wringing of hands over the Blue Jays' inability to bring runners home in their series vs. Tampa Bay but has that really been their problem in 2013?

There can be no doubt that the baseball the Blue Jays have played since the All-Star Break has been very difficult to watch. This team seems to miss scoring chances again and again and again and fall just short at the least opportune times. There is a very negative feel lately in the twitterverse and the thought is that these guys just can't get it done when it matters most. Now, we could have a lengthy argument over the idea of "clutchness" and whether it is a skill or merely a product of random sequencing but that's not what I'm looking to get into today. My question is simply whether the criticism of the Jays inability to hit with runners in scoring position is fair or accurate. It is my feeling that it is not. In fact, harping on an issue like this is exactly the sort of thing that I often find very frustrating about mainstream media types who are hungry for a story and trying to feed off the emotions of their audience but failing to do their due diligence when it comes to the facts. So today I'm looking the facts, not the depressing things that my eyes tell me.

The first way to look at this is on a team level. What needs to be examined is how the Blue Jays hit in general compared to how they hit with runners in scoring position. The chart below looks at that and also looks at how they rank in both of these areas league wide by putting their MLB rank in each category in brackets.

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

wRC+

Blue Jays Hitting-Total

.251 (17th)

.316 (16th)

.416 (8th)

8.3% (10th)

18.7% (11th)

99 (10th)

Blue Jays Hitting- RISP

.256 (12th)

.331 (18th)

.435 (5th)

10.3 (17th)

18.6 (13th)

104 (7th)

Although their league ranking goes down in a couple of categories when this team is hitting in RISP, overall the output is better is both compared to the Blue Jays total production and relative to other teams in the league in the same situation. So where is the opposite notion coming from? Are some of the Blue Jays players in particular failing in this situation leaving a vivid imagine in our mind? The chart below shows the difference between how individual hitters have hit with RISP position as opposed to their season totals. I only used players qualifying for this chart because these are the guys who have seen the most plate appearances in both RISP and non-RISP situations.

Player

Difference in AVG with RISP

Difference in OBP with RISP

Difference in SLG with RISP

Difference in wRC+ with RISP

Colby Rasmus

+.057

+.075

+.105

+48

Edwin Encarnacion

+.068

+.065

+.116

+44

Jose Bautista

+.054

+0.88

+.126

+51

Adam Lind

+.018

+006

+.157

+32

J.P Arencibia

-.064

-.055

-.113

-50

Melky Cabrera

+.010

-.014

-.056

-23

Maicer Izturis

-.038

-.035

-.101

-38

Arencibia and Izturis have been disastrous with runners in scoring position but the top four hitters in the middle of this order have actually been significantly better in those plate appearances. It seems that this myth has arisen from the frustration of watching J.P. Arencibia flail away an opportunity at runs one too many times. I understand that sentiment and I can sympathize with it but as fans we need to understand that sometimes that things aren't all the appear to be and our emotions and frustrations can cloud our judgment and ability to make accurate analyses.

2013 continues to be a very difficult year for the Blue Jays and those that follow them but there is no need to create issues where none exist. There are plenty of legitimate problems with this team to go around, more than enough to fill newspapers, blogs and radio programs. If people insist on writing negative things about the Blue Jays, which despite J.P. Arencibia's protestations is only fair, they should turn their attention elsewhere. The reality of the situation is that there's nothing to see here. Now, about those starting pitchers....

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