Introducing RISP

RISP is an acronym for Runners In Scoring Position.  Most baseball stats compute a player’s or team’s batting average with runners in scoring position to provide a glimpse into “clutch” hitting.  I find it more accurate determination as to a player’s ability to hit in RISP situations calculating the number of runs he scores in those situation.  I then tally, normalize and sort against league averages to determine the best clutch hitters.

This stat can only be computed using event data provided by retrosheet.org. Since the 2013 event data has not been released yet I’ll show 2012 results for illustration purposes.

Rank RAA BA OBP PA Pa(tot) RBI HR Name_Tm %RISP WAA
1 32.4 0.375 0.428 236 684 20 9 Adrian_Gonzalez_LAN 0.345 3.4
2 31.5 0.340 0.418 237 697 28 10 Miguel_Cabrera_DET 0.340 10.1
3 29.4 0.289 0.395 195 636 29 9 Josh_Hamilton_TEX 0.307 10.0
4 28.9 0.342 0.404 178 514 17 8 Allen_Craig_SLN 0.346 6.3
5 27.5 0.266 0.368 231 699 32 12 Chase_Headley_SDN 0.330 5.9
6 23.6 0.328 0.465 241 690 49 8 Prince_Fielder_DET 0.349 4.0
7 23.6 0.303 0.459 196 644 44 12 Edwin_Encarnacion_TOR 0.304 6.4
8 23.4 0.278 0.389 208 624 32 11 Nick_Swisher_NYA 0.333 3.4
9 21.7 0.277 0.381 181 579 26 8 Carlos_Gonzalez_COL 0.313 5.1
10 21.6 0.265 0.370 189 641 27 5 Ryan_Zimmerman_WAS 0.295 5.2

The RAA column represents  runs batted in above average.  The player with the highest RAA  doesn’t necessarily bat in the most runs total.   He makes the most effective use of RISP situations.  The second to last column is the % a player sees a RISP situation per plate appearance.  This column was added for informational purposes only to show the randomness involved in batting in a RISP situation.  From now on we’ll refer to this RAA column as RISP (RAA).  The following is also true.

Sum(RISP(RAA)) across all players = 0

The above is a common theme when dealing with averages and basically states RISP(RAA)s are conserved.  The last column shows WAA, the player’s ultimate value, for 2012.  A list like this provides insight into a player’s clutch hitting ability but WAA is still the ultimate value indicator.  A manager can use RISP(RAA) to better know the clutch hitting capability of his player.  As you can see, the player with the best BA in RISP situation doesn’t necessarily bat the most runs in.  In baseball it’s runs that win ball games — not hits.

Of course the top ten clutch hitters also play all the time so there’s not much a manager can do with this information.   The player is already in the lineup.  The bottom of the list is the most interesting and shows the players that if they come up to bat in a RISP situation, a manager might want to replace them with a pinch hitter.  Here are the bottom ten in 2012.  Table format same as above.

Rank RAA BA OBP PA Pa(tot) RBI HR Name_Tm %RISP WAA
1 -29.7 0.203 0.237 160 600 7 1 Zack_Cozart_CIN 0.267 -3.0
2 -19.1 0.194 0.288 163 449 19 0 Everth_Cabrera_SDN 0.363 -3.0
3 -17.3 0.183 0.274 197 658 22 5 Danny_Espinosa_WAS 0.299 -0.7
4 -17.1 0.262 0.340 94 330 10 0 Jarrod_Dyson_KCA 0.285 -1.4
5 -16.1 0.173 0.323 127 426 23 0 Daniel_Descalso_SLN 0.298 -2.8
6 -16.1 0.252 0.327 168 630 17 2 Jose_Altuve_HOU 0.267 -2.9
7 -15.9 0.227 0.320 125 511 15 0 Jemile_Weeks_OAK 0.245 -4.3
8 -15.1 0.191 0.248 101 370 7 0 Alex_Presley_PIT 0.273 -1.5
9 -14.0 0.216 0.283 106 319 9 0 Maicer_Izturis_ANA 0.332 -1.8
10 -14.0 0.241 0.316 193 603 19 4 Jeff_Francoeur_KCA 0.320 -3.0

Based upon all the negative WAAs in the above table a manager might already know to pinch hit for these batters. A tool like this is useful for players in the middle of the two extremes.

As soon as the 2013 event files are released I will post those RISP results here.