Long Live Lob City

There is a lot of frustration with Rangers baseball as of late, and I can’t say I blame fans for it. Losing three out of four to an underwhelming Oakland team while watching the Angels climb the standings is a bit unsettling. However, two out of three in San Francisco ain’t bad, right? What I’ve noticed is one of the things fans are most angry about is leaving runners on base. The phrase “LOB City” is going around Twitter like fire, and it is no longer referring to the Los Angeles Clippers. 
Here’s the thing, leaving runners on base may indicate missed opportunities – and I’m not saying it doesn’t—however, leaving runners on can also indicate opportunities taken. A batter’s main job is to get on base, any base. Pick one. Getting on is half the battle. I suppose in Ron Washington’s philosophy it’s actually a third of the battle. “Get ‘em on. Get ‘em over. Get ‘em in.” The runners actually being on base suggests at least the first step in the process. Getting them on opens up more opportunities to get them over and get them in, resulting in more runs scored.

If we look at the ten games already played in June, there have been only four wins. Four little wins. In those four wins, the Rangers have left fourteen, seven, thirteen, and ten men on base. Fourteen is the highest number they have stranded in this ten-game June road trip. Fourteen men left and they won. More opportunities allowed for more runs to score. In the Rangers six losses, there have been six, ten, three, four, three, and seven runners left on bases. With the exception of the second game against the Angels where they left ten stranded, those numbers are pretty low. The Angels were also the best team the Rangers played in that stretch of road games. Fewer on-base opportunities, fewer runs scored.

The Rangers have the highest average with runners in scoring position (RISP) with .292, barely beating the Tigers, who have been playing worse than what was expected of them.  Granted RISP numbers don’t count runners left on first, that statistic seems baffling considering the high numbers left on. However, the Rangers have been capitalizing almost one-third of the time there are men on 2nd or 3rd base. Remember, getting the job done one-third of the time in baseball is still considered good.  Let’s say at least one man gets on base with two outs in every inning, and he makes it to second. That would be nine men in scoring position. The Rangers could capitalize one-third of the time and score three, and leave six. Rangers hitters are better than just one man per inning, though. Now say two men get on base in the first, one in the second, two in the third, and alternately continuing that pattern for all nine innings with two outs, and the next batter up could capitalize on the opportunity one-third of the time. The Rangers could score five, and potentially leave ten or more men on. Still, that would give them about a .300 batting average with runners in scoring position, and a high number in that far right column labeled “LOB.” If the guys didn’t reach base in the first place, that average with RISP numbers would be zero. And more importantly, if the guys didn’t reach base at all the average of the whole team would be zero. Except Josh Hamilton, because he’d just hit home runs constantly. (I joke.)

The moral here is that the Texas Rangers have good batters with good eyes who know how to get on base. That’s the first step, and they have it down. When they put people on base, they seem to know how to drive them in. So let “LOB City” live on. (Kudos to whomever started that. It was not my original phrase.) It may not be ideal to leave runners on, but the trend for the Rangers has been “get as many on as you can. Some will eventually score.” It’s all about capitalizing. 

Emily Cates is a Staff Writer for ShutDownInning. She can reached via email at Emily.Cates@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter @EmLikesBaseball
Emily Cates

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