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Sep 242010
Batting              AB R  H RBI BB SO   BA   OPS
John Jaso  DH         2 2  1   0  3  0 .267  .760
Ben Zobrist  CF       3 0  1   1  2  0 .246  .717
B.J. Upton  CF        0 0  0   0  0  0 .234  .740
Carl Crawford  LF     5 1  2   2  0  0 .306  .850
Evan Longoria  3B     4 2  2   2  0  0 .294  .878
Dan Johnson  1B       4 1  1   1  0  1 .227  .867
Carlos Pena  1B       0 0  0   0  1  0 .201  .745
Matthew Joyce  RF     5 0  1   0  0  2 .233  .826
Jason Bartlett  SS    5 0  1   0  0  2 .250  .667
Reid Brignac  2B      4 1  2   1  1  0 .269  .724
Dioner Navarro  C     5 0  1   0  0  2 .200  .545

How many times have you heard a Yankee fan say this about the Tampa Bay Rays? I think we’ve all looked up and down that lineup, seen those weak batting averages and unimpressive peripherals at some point and thought to ourselves ‘How do they do it?’. They’re tied with the Yanks in the loss column and 3rd in the AL in Runs Scored. The answer is generally some vague reference to “speed” but rarely does anyone give you any numbers to back that up with, because baserunning numbers are among the least used among mainstream and even Sabermetric-inclined fans. Yet that’s where the answer lies. Here’s the numbers:

Tm       R/G ROE XI RS%   SBO   SB  CS SB%  SB2 CS2 SB3 CS3 SBH CSH  PO PCS OOB   BT XBT% 1stS 1stS2 1stS3 1stD 1stD3 1stDH 2ndS 2ndS3 2ndSH
BAL     3.82  55  1 27%  2094   72  33 69%   66  31   6   1   0   1  18  11  46  155  37%  277   202    73   65    37    25  180    71    97
BOS     5.03  48  1 31%  2246   54  17 76%   48  14   6   2   0   1   4   1  40  143  38%  248   182    63  132    84    45  155    50    95
CHW     4.64  51  0 31%  2119  145  72 67%  122  66  22   4   1   2  25   7  51  141  42%  272   190    78   72    35    36  187    72   109
CLE     3.93  53  0 28%  2113   82  31 73%   72  28  10   3   0   0  23   8  49  160  36%  274   212    59   94    58    32  177    65   103
DET     4.65  56  0 31%  2297   64  26 71%   63  19   1   7   0   0  14   4  48  132  40%  334   239    94  107    58    46  185    64   112
KCR     4.18  52  1 29%  2185  102  47 68%   87  40  14   5   1   2  18  10  57  139  36%  361   258    99   82    51    28  190    84    98
LAA     4.26  60  4 31%  2053   96  49 66%   84  36  12  10   0   3  16   6  60  116  45%  258   158    94   77    38    36  143    51    84
MIN     4.90  52  0 32%  2216   62  28 69%   55  23   7   5   0   0  20   6  58  166  41%  314   224    86  109    65    41  202    68   127
NYY     5.33  47  0 33%  2304   94  29 76%   86  25   7   4   1   0  19   8  47  147  38%  307   221    81   96    56    38  180    67   105
OAK     4.03  64  1 30%  2127  144  36 80%  114  31  30   4   0   1  19   6  62  165  44%  278   186    85   82    38    41  182    61   113
SEA     3.19  55  0 25%  1923  135  39 78%  114  31  20   6   1   2  21   7  59  121  37%  279   190    83   53    33    18  155    64    77
TBR     5.05  58  6 34%  2131  164  45 78%  141  37  23   7   0   1  32   7  51  194  46%  262   166    92  101    54    47  183    61   112
TEX     4.83  55  4 32%  2161  112  47 70%   98  41  13   6   1   0  28  10  57  182  42%  337   218   114   72    42    29  198    81   111
TOR     4.62  47  1 30%  1969   53  20 73%   49  16   4   4   0   0  13   7  42  113  36%  203   149    51   81    46    31  123    53    64
LgAvg   4.46  54  1 30%  2138   99  37 73%   86  31  13   5   0   1  19   7  52  148  40%  286   200    82   87    50    35  174    65   101
        4.46 753 19 30% 29938 1379 519 73% 1199 438 175  68   5  13 270  98 727 2074  40% 4004  2795  1152 1223   695   493 2440   912  1407

Base running is where the Rays truly shine. They’re a highly efficient team at scoring runs. They lead the AL in Stolen Bases, are #2 in SB% and most importantly lead the league in RS%. Run Scoring% tracks how often men on base score, and nobody does it better than the Rays. It’s not a result of some out sized team BA with RISP, they’re a mediocre 6th in the AL at .267 with RISP. Yet their team OBP with RISP is a league-leading .371 in those situations, so their approach with men on base is very good. They also get on base more than standard methods would lead you to believe. Their .336 team OBP is a middling 6th in the AL, but their BB% (percentage of all PAs that end in a walk) is a stellar 10.9, good for best in the league and ahead of the Yanks at 10.3.

As you can see, you have to look deeper to appreciate why the Rays are so good. Team speed is the type of thing that can go under the radar for most fans. The runner who gets stranded on third base on most teams often scores on the Rays. In the outfield, balls that would be game-changing doubles and triples are rendered into harmless outs. That’s a huge swing in win probability. If you don’t appreciate the Rays, you’re probably looking at the wrong numbers.

4 Responses to ““Their Lineup Doesn’t Scare Me””

  1. where did you get that lineup card and the other stat sheet?  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    Baseball reference, which I linked back to in the post.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  2. Good post – the numbers do tell the story.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  3. Great post.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

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