One of the themes surrounding the Baltimore Orioles since the All Star break has been their inability to hit with runners in scoring position and it has even gotten to the point where some fans refer to the RISP acronym as "runners in stranded position."
Today we will examine how the team as a whole is performing as well as certain individuals for the O's.
The Orioles are currently hitting .266 with runners in scoring position this year, and probably unbelievable to Orioles' fans, that ranks as the sixth best in all of baseball. All but five teams in the league would take that in a heartbeat, but when you dive into the numbers we find some disturbing information.
First off, if you are a fan of baseball, you know that teams win or lose a lot of game by being able to get that key two out hit, and this is where the Orioles begin to see a downward trend. This season, the Birds are hitting .229 with runners in scoring position with two outs, which is in the bottom half of the league.
Nate McLouth and JJ Hardy are two of the key players in the Orioles lineup, both defensively and offensively, but it has been their lack of production with runners in scoring position and two outs that is remarkable. Hardy is hitting a measly .213 in 65 plate appearances, while McLouth is hitting an abysmal .105 in 43 plate appearances.
Baltimore's record in one run ball games this season is a far cry from their 29-9 record a year ago, and one of those contributing factors has been the Orioles inability to repeat what they did last season when hitting with a runner or third and less than two outs. The O's are hitting .317 with 171 RBI in 272 plate appearances in that situation, whereas last season, Baltimore hit .346 with runners on third and less than two outs.
In regards to individuals who need to step up with runners at third with less than two outs scenario are two key Orioles hitters that are struggling mightily in that situation. Nick Markakis is hitting just .222 in 39 plate appearances with a runner at third and less than two outs, while McLouth has been even worse, hitting .188 in 18 plate appearances.
The proof is in the pudding as they say and the Orioles average with runners in scoring position has been a problem, especially as of late. On August 20th, the Orioles were hitting .277 with runners in scoring position, but their average has dropped 11 points since then, 11! That is quite a significant decrease in a 20 day stretch and prior to their four game series win over the White Sox, their lack of hitting with runners in scoring position was hurting them.
Oddly enough, the Orioles are coming off of taking three of four from the White Sox in a series that saw them go 3-37 with runners in scoring position. That is not quite a formula for success, but one key hit from Matt Wieters and good pitching will hide that inefficiency for one series. Despite all of this, the Orioles find themselves just two games back of a playoff spot and there is no better time to turn it around with runners in scoring position than in the middle of a playoff chase!
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