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Margalus: Sox Are League Average w/ RISP

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  • Margalus: Sox Are League Average w/ RISP

    Of course I want the Sox to do better, but they aren’t terrible compared to the competition.
    While it seems like the White Sox seldom deliver with runners in scoring position, they’re actually faring decently. They entered the Boston series with baseball’s seventh-best OPS in such situations, and after going 2-for-12 in the opener, they’ve dropped down to … eighth in baseball, and fourth in the American League. If you’d rather break […]

  • #2
    I would also argue that there is room for Sox hitters to “progress to the mean” in all situations, including with RISP. Abreu and Moncada are not going to be this bad all season. Their team numbers also reflect 10 days - and more than half of their games played so far - without Tim Anderson, who has been their best hitter for average over the past two seasons.

    This is no guarantee of ultimate success, of course.

    The fundamental issue, as Margalus describes, is that pitchers - especially relievers - are throwing harder than ever. And this year’s ball has higher seams and therefore seems to spin better, which makes strikeouts even more common.

    The good news is that the Sox have several hitters who generally have good plate discipline (Moncada, Grandal, Collins, Vaughn, Mercedes), or have shown increased plate discipline so far this year (Robert, Madrigal). The team OBP is up, and often once it is established that hitters won’t swing at sliders in the dirt they become more likely to get fastballs over the plate. Beyond that, as the weather gets warmer, more of their fly outs will become home runs, particularly at home.

    I think the one adjustment our hitters need to make on the whole is learning to hit (or at least foul off) pitches at the top of the zone, since the high fastball increasingly is being used as a strikeout pitch to counter the uppercut/launch angle optimizing swing.

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    • #3
      People need to read the experts at WSI before releasing their articles to the public.

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      • #4
        Really good, thought-provoking article that puts the Sox struggles in context. I'm curious about how the Sox rank against the rest of the league in terms of converting on RISP (what % or RISP come around to score), because their high walk rate in these situations is not very helpful for driving those runners in when the batting average is so low.

        I think a lot of the apparent failures of the Sox in these situations have to do with the struggles of the guys in the heart of the order. When the guys who are supposed to be reliable and dangerous like Abreu, Moncada, and Grandal don't come through, it is extra-frustrating for fans. I also wonder by how much the Sox numbers in these situations are buoyed by Mercedes and Eaton who have been the team's most consistent hitters thus far (just like we all thought going into the season, right?).

        The quote/tweet by Joe Sheehan is particularly interesting, how K-rates are higher in RISP than overall. Apparently this has been going on for years so it wouldn't have anything to do with the new ball, but pitchers that throw 97+ seem to be able to get that strikeout when it is most needed.

        Also, LOL at the Cubs -3 wRC+ with RISP. Remember league average is 100, not 0.

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        • #5
          As Ed Farmer used to say, "Get em' on, get em' over, get em' in..."

          You don't always have to get a hit to score a run and the Sox appear to be so bad at fundamentals (bunting, hitting to the opposite field, etc) that they make it even harder on themselves.

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