Monday, May 01, 2006

Sox fail with runners in scoring position 

The 9th inning on Sunday was a microcosm of the Sox' main struggle thus far: hitting with runners in scoring position. Sure, the Sox have been able to bop a solo homerun here and there, but from just watching the games, it seems as if they've been positively anemic at hitting with runners in scoring position.

On Sunday, trailing by 3 in the 9th inning, Mike Lowell and Wily Mo go back-to-back and bring the Sox within a run, then Trot Nixon worked a walk. Willie Harris ran for Nixon (which is the only thing Willie Harris should ever be doing for this team) and took off for second. An errant throw by Toby Hall landed Harris on 3rd with one out. At this point, based on the Run Expectancy chart, the Sox should score another .983 before the inning ends.

The next batter, J.T. Snow was hit by a pitch, increasing that number to 1.243 runs. At this point, the Sox should, at the very least, tie the ballgame. A simple fly ball will score the tying run, but Kevin Youkilis, the next batter, strikes out. Mark Loretta then goes on to groundout to the shortstop for the final out of the game.

This is how it's been all season it seems. Men get on base, but they don't score due to poor situational hitting. The Red Sox are third in the American League with 238 at-bats with runners in scoring position, but rank third-to-last with a pitiful .235 batting average. But, you say, the Red Sox have some sluggers on their team! Maybe they've not hitting for a high average, but they're surely crushing the balls that they are actually hitting! Wrong. The Sox rank 11th out of 14 teams with a putrid .336 slugging percentage with runners in scoring position.

I could obviously go on forever here, but you're probably better off just taking a look at the graph below to get a real idea of how bad they've truly been.

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