Bringing the runner home

Hey, about that runner on third. - Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Surprise. The Royals have issues scoring a runner from third with less than two outs.

The focus yesterday was on Alcides Escobar's return to second in the Royals batting order. And because it's the Royals, Escobar came to the plate with two outs in the ninth and the tying run 90 feet away. While Escobar's failure to bring the run home was difficult (yet predictable) to stomach, we can't forget the myriad chances squandered yesterday.

In the last two innings, the Royals hit with runners in scoring position five times. They struck out in three of those plate appearances. Twice looking.

Ugh.

It got me thinking about the Royals and how they've done moving - and scoring - runners.

BaseRunners Advances
PA BR BRS BRS% <2,3B Scr % 0,2B Adv %
Billy Butler 297 169 35 21% 18 9 50% 7 3 43%
Lorenzo Cain 265 185 27 15% 17 8 47% 18 10 56%
Jarrod Dyson* 50 30 7 23% 3 1 33% 1 1 100%
Alcides Escobar 310 175 24 14% 15 9 60% 14 13 93%
Jeff Francoeur 189 120 10 8% 10 1 10% 8 3 38%
Chris Getz* 157 102 11 11% 12 3 25% 6 3 50%
Alex Gordon* 321 163 32 20% 15 9 60% 8 3 38%
Eric Hosmer* 295 168 25 15% 11 8 73% 14 9 64%
Elliot Johnson# 128 85 7 8% 8 2 25% 4 2 50%
George Kottaras* 59 41 7 17% 8 4 50% 2 0 0%
David Lough* 113 70 11 16% 2 1 50% 7 5 71%
Mike Moustakas* 237 157 9 6% 13 6 46% 13 7 54%
Salvador Perez 235 130 25 19% 10 7 70% 5 0 0%
Miguel Tejada 70 46 7 15% 6 2 33% 5 4 80%
League Average 14% 52% 55%
Team Total 2752 1653 238 14% 148 70 47% 113 63 56%
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/26/2013.

Under the "Advances" <2,3B stands for runners on third with less than two out. The 0,2B is runners on second with no outs. We can see that the Royals as a team are bringing that runner home from third 47 percent of the time. League average is 52 percent. It seems like the Royals should be way off the leaderboard and they are, ahead of only the Yankees (45 percent) in the AL.

It should come as a surprise that Elliot Johnson and Jeff Francoeur are the Royals' biggest failures at bringing the runner home from third. And notice how Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez have done.

Another thing to takeaway from the above chart is the Royals are league average in scoring base runners. In away, that's good. In another way, it serves to underscore another issue plaguing this team. To keep hanging my hat on the latest "news peg" this is yet another example of the Royals systemic failure to understand the importance of on base percentage which directly leads me to continue to harp on the fallacy of hitting Escobar second. If this team was league average in OBP, they would be scoring about 4.24 runs per game instead of their current mark of 3.89.

We can measure how the Royals' ignorance of OBP is costing this team. This year, it's to the tune of about 0.35 runs per game. Yeah, that's significant.

Further, think about the Royals record in one run games. They are 11-16 after Tuesday, second worst mark in the AL and third worst in baseball. That difference in runs they're giving away by continuing to employ low on base percentage hitters? It matters.

Sometimes, it's the small things that cost you wins and a chance at a .500 record.

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