Now why can’t Adrian Beltre, pictured in the cage above, get a cut like that on a ball when there are runners in scoring position? Thanks to eastcoast in the comments thread for bringing that up. More on it later, but first…
I know a lot of you are in an uproar over the possibility of Ken Griffey Jr. coming here after he swats his 600th home run. Much of this is based off today’s USA Today story by Bob Nightengale. In it, there’s a quote from Mariners president Chuck Armstrong saying: “I think everybody in Seattle would like to see him retire in a Mariners uniform. He was born a Mariner. And I’d like to see him finish up as a Mariner.
“I can’t say much because he is property of the Cincinnati Reds, but he always will have a special place in my heart, and everyone here in Seattle.”
Well that, predictably, set folks off all over the place. Armstrong is attending an owners’ meeting and couldn’t come down to comment today. But he relayed info via the team’s media relations director, Tim Hevly, who said Armstrong made the comments to Nightengale while doing a Saturday interview on the recent death of Buzzie Bavasi, the father of Mariners GM Bill Bavasi. When the conversation switched to Griffey, Armstrong apparently made his comments along general lines, meaning yeah, he’d like to see Griffey return for a day, wear the uniform and retire, or something like that. But he insists he told Nightengale, as you can read in the story, that he could not talk about bringing him here this year or anytime since baseball does have serious tampering rules. I’m sure the Mariners got a phone call from the commish’s office in New York today. They won’t confirm or deny that.
What do I think? It makes sense as a theory that the Reds would try to benefit from PR for Griffey by waiting three more homers until he reaches 600. It makes sense to unload him if they can get a genuine prospect for him. I’m not sure, though, that it makes sense for the M’s to give up a decent prospect to go get him now. This team has enough DH types already. If you want to wait until next year, he’ll likely be a free agent if his club option is declined. Then you figure out if he’s got enough left and pay him to come back if he fits.
Here’s what Griffey’s agent said ealier today, about it being speculation and little else.
Just got done talking to Jarrod Washburn and his calf is feeling better today. It isn’t feeling super-fantastic, as anyone who’s ever woken up with a cramp in their calf can tell you. Those things hurt when you damage them and the hurt can linger. Washburn tore that calf a couple of seasons ago, right after my arrival in Seattle, but the pitcher says the injury isn’t as serious this time.
Washburn wants to make his next start. He told me he might not throw on the side between outings this time, just to rest it more. The last time he tore it, he could put his entire finger in the hole in the muscle. His calfs aren’t that big, by the way, for what it’s worth, so that’s a significant tear. But this time, the hole isn’t too big. The team feels it may be scar tissue from the previous injury that ripped away, which is normal. He’s going to be examined tonight for an opinion about that.
Back to Beltre for a moment. As eastcoast mentioned, Beltre’s average with runners in scoring position is a mere .133, despite his big numbers overall. I had this conversation with Brad Adam of FSN while sitting in the Yankee Stadium pressbox on Sunday. Adam said something like “How the heck does your cleanup hitter have only six RBI?” and I mumbled something about no guys getting on ahead of him. Then I said “Let’s check that theory out” looked at the numbers and saw I was wrong. He just stinks with runners in scoring position this year.
I was all excited for a moment, thought I’d have a great blog post to work on for when I got back to Seattle. In fact, last night, I planned to run all the numbers. As Faceplant already mentioned in the comments section, the runners in scoring position stat often tends to reflect what hitters are doing overall. There is a theory out there (a debate actually) about whether “clutch hitting” truly exists. Those who say it doesn’t insist that good hitters will hit well with runners in scoring position. Hitters doing poorly overall won’t. Those who hit extremely well with RISP are just having fluke seasons — so the theory goes.
I do think certain hitters can rise to the occasion, but I also think, for the majority of hitters, it is just that other aspect. If they’re hitting well overall, they’ll hit well with RISP.
What I wanted to do was compare how the M’s were hitting overall to how they were hitting with RISP. But in reading through USS Mariner last night, just before beginning my research as the game was going on, I saw that one of their posters had beaten me to it. Apparently, the numbers are just bad all around and the RISP stats reflect the overall stats. No news there. It would be different if the averages and OPS with RISP were significantly lower — reflecting a team that tightens up with men on-base. But nope.
Anyhow, I got to thinking though, how would this impact the team if the guys in the middle of the order were the ones with lower RISP totals? I mean, these are the guys who tend to get the most chances to drive runners home. If they are significantly lower than the rest, it would stand to reason that this is one reason the team is not scoring.
Let’s take a look at the regular averages of the guys in the heart of the order:
And now with RISP:
Well, we now see why Vidro has so many RBI. Certainly a big dropoff elsewhere, especially by Beltre and Sexson.
Overall, you see a team where the batting average is .252 compared to .242 with RISP. Not much of a drop. But in the middle of the order, even with guys doing well, there has been a significant dropoff. And I do think it matters, since the four guys I’ve mentioned are the ones getting the most at-bats on their team with RISP. So, yes, something to think about. I do think these guys are pressing a little when it counts. So does the team, obviously, and the numbers bear that out.