Tonight, the Rays started off the 1st inning by getting the first two runners on base but failed to plate either – an event that has seemingly happened far too often this season. One would expect a team to plate at least one of those runners in that situation and that expectation would not be unrealistic according to statistical history. Tom Tango, Mitchel Lichtman, and Andrew Dolphin wrote a terrific book entitled The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball. I am reading this book right now after following the blog online for quite some time. If you wonder how many runners a team should score in any given situation, this book explains that with a very handy run expectancy chart. They went back and combed through all of the play by play data from 1999 to 2002 to get a significant sample size for the research and the data tells us that teams that get men on 1st and 2nd with 0 out should score 1.57 runs in a game.
This is a nice chart to keep handy the next time you watch the Rays or your favorite team and want to know what a team should do in these situations. Additionally, The Book also does a terrific job in qualitatively proving why managers should do certain things in certain situations such as intentionally walking batters, creating lineups, and a lot of the things Joe Maddon does that you may or may not agree with. I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book if you have an interest in the data-driven model of baseball management.