Did you catch the Red Sox-Dodgers Sunday night game? I did … all 12 innings.
This was last season’s World Series matchup. These are two teams that could make deep postseason runs once again this year – the cream of the crop in Major League baseball.
LA bested the BoSox 7-4 in extras after Boston stranded runners on second base in the 9th, 10th, and 11th innings. Timely hitting … it was nowhere to be found for the Sox that night.
Boston was also hurt by lackluster baserunning. Jackie Bradley Jr ruined an excellent chance to win the game in the 11th inning when he aggressively attempted to advance from second to third on a ground ball to short and was thrown out by 10 feet.
Good baserunning was then immediately rewarded in the top of the 12th. Cody Bellinger hit a routine ground ball to first base. Many big leaguers would have … well, “big-leagued it” and half-heartedly jogged down to first, assuming they would be out easily.
After all, this game was not of extreme importance to the Dodgers who hold a 15-game lead in the NL West. Bellinger is a legitimate superstar. I doubt anyone would have ragged him for not running 100%.
Bellinger booked it out of the box, however, and was able to force a collision with pitcher Hector Velasquez moments before being tagged by Brock Holt.
Bellinger avoided the near-certain out, was awarded first base, and allowed his Dodgers to break the game open with 3 in the 12th – earning the victory.
Timely hitting and baserunning. Things as simple as moving the runner over or hustling 90 feet to first base can be the difference between winning and losing.
It is easy to overlook the little things in baseball … until they come around to bite you.
My focus today is on timely hitting and baserunning. I am interested which teams excel in these categories. When the tension is at its highest in September and October, I will feel much more comfortable putting my money on teams who do the little things correctly.
Let’s take a look at these “little things” which really aren’t so little.
Timely Hitting – the Best Situational Run Producers
Fangraphs breaks all hitting situations down into three categories: low, medium, and high leverage. Click the link for a breakdown on what qualifies as each. It has to do with changes in win expectancy.
High leverage situations are the biggest – the clutchest. These 10 teams lead the MLB in wOBA during high leverage situations. These 10 teams are the clutchest of the clutch – exemplary situational hitters.
No wonder the Yankees are so good. Their wOBA is 20 points higher in clutch situations than the next leading team. That’s a recipe for success.
Red Sox fans can relax. Sunday night’s game was a mere blip on the radar for a team that is normally very solid in the clutch. The very next day, Monday, Boston went 4-4 with 9 RBIs with the bases loaded against Toronto.
MLB Team Baserunning Leaders
Base Running (BsR). This relatively new sabermetric combines Weighted Stolen Base Runs, Weighted Grounded Into Double Play Runs, and Ultimate Base Running to provide the most comprehensive measurement around of both player and team baserunning.
Teams who baserun well constantly put pressure on opposing defenses and score runs with their legs that other teams would not.
The benefits of good base running (and the costs of bad base running) were on full display Sunday night at Fenway. Here are the 10 teams that have been stealing extra runs all season long.
My final thoughts are that I really like the Indians to make a run in the second half. Their bullpen is tremendous, their clutch hitting is exemplary, and they generate extra runs with their legs.
The Indians are currently 6 games behind the Minnesota Twins who have cooled off a tad after a blistering start. Bovada has Cleveland +600 to win the AL Central. I think I’m going to go for it!
See you on top!