The Rays offense might be reading fine from a statistical vantage point, what with their 3rd in the league wRC+ of 109, but that’s taken a dip over the last month as they’ve only garnered a 99 wRC+ over the last 30 days. Oh that’s not so bad, they mutter, that’s basically league average. They make a solid point that the offense has gotten on base well. Avoiding outs is a great philosophy and over this span they have the 9th best OBP courtesy of the best BB% in the league at 10.1%, but at the end of the day it don’t mean jack, Jack, if you can’t get that guy in. The Rays are tied with the Cubs for 26th most runs over this last month as they’ve only managed 89 guys crossing into the promised land. This works out to around 3.4 runs per game, which might fly in the Deadball Era, but not today when the average team is scoring roughly 4.20 runs per game.
The first part of the title is going just fine, but it’s the rest of the equation, the most important part, that’s lacking. Here’s a look at a few things:
All stats are current through games played on 8/31. The lines above are 25-game trends of a couple of different things. BaseRunners are the number of guys that got on base via the BB, H, or HBP in a given game. The Rays are averaging a robust 12.5 BaseRunners per game which checks in at 5th best in all of baseball trailing the Tigers (13.8), Red Sox (13.6), D-Backs (12.7), the Angels (12.6), and leads to an essential tie with the Cardinals and Reds. The team is currently below their average, but not by much.
The red line shows Runs per game. The Rays have averaged 4.4 on the year, but you can see just how far below their norm they’ve been and it’s been around 30 games or so since they started falling off. The purple line shows what’s left when we take Runs away from BaseRunners. Now not all these guys were stranded since some would be doubled off or caught stealing, but that’s the point. The Rays have averaged 8.2 BR-R on the year, but that number is up closer to nine now. It’s not just a failure to drive a guy in in a clutch situation, though our 20th in the league 18.1% over the last month doesn’t help. The Rays have the most double plays turned on them in the last month at 30, or over one a game. This is a problem as the Rays are not getting over once they’ve gotten on meaning the next guy is likely to either strike out or put a ball on the ground that erases two runners and lightens the opposition’s work load.
Lastly, the green line shows Runs per BaseRunner. Here’s the big dip. At one point the Rays were managing to score around 40% of the guys they’ve gotten on and on the season they’ve been just shy of 35%. That number is well under 30% of late, and again we see a big dip around 30 games ago with no bounceback in site. For comparison, here’s all of MLB ordered by their R/BR on the year:
On the year the Rays check in around 15th with their 35% rate, but the rate that they’ve gotten in after getting on is basically worse than the Marlins league-worst 30% over the last month or so. As we’ve seen the Rays are doing an adequate job of the former in the title, but too many guys are being doubled off or left on. It’s time to start getting a little more loose taking advantage of poor catchers with the stolen base and misaligned infielders due to the successful hit and run. The former might be tougher to swing, but this team has been begging to see the latter put on more often of late. The alternative is more of the same with sluggers trying to rip the ball out of the park instead of situationally hitting and contact hitters letting a pitcher off the hook for walking one of our more potent threats.