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LOB: The 2012 Philadelphia Phillies

How bad has it been for the Phillies in run-scoring situations?

Pence is struggling with RISP.

Only Ike Davis has more at-bats with runners in scoring position than Hunter Pence in the National League. Pence is getting his opportunities and doing nothing with them. Among batters with at least 25 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, Pence’s .714 OPS ranks 63rd in the NL. But it’s not just Pence failing. Jimmy Rollins has struggled his fair share as well, ranking 97th in the NL with a .576 OPS with RISP.

It’s really bad with a runner on third base and less than two outs, when the Phillies seem to have an uncanny ability to leave their guy on base. They’ve managed to plate only 42 runs in that situation, 13th out of 16 National League teams. Only Washington, San Diego, and Pittsburgh are worse. Is there a correlation between knocking in guys with runners on third and less than two outs? You might say so.

Three of the top six teams are the NL divisional leaders. Atlanta is hitting .370 in that situation, scoring 81 runs. The Los Angeles Dodgers are second in the NL, plating 65 runs. Colorado is third, with the St. Louis Cardinals sixth. The playoff contenders are getting the job done when they’re supposed to. Can Atlanta and Los Angeles sustain that level? Maybe not, but for now they are and it’s helping lead them to victories.

This failure to capitalize, of course, is a product of the lineup the Phillies are trotting out there. It features several slap-hitters on a daily basis. Not that you need to have light-tower power to succeed, however, it doesn’t hurt to have a hitter in that situation that can drive the ball.

Are they missing Ryan Howard? With RISP they are. In 2011, Howard had the third-most opportunities with runners in scoring position with 161 at-bats, just behind Carlos Lee and teammate Hunter Pence. Perhaps you think RBI’s are a useless barometer for a player. No matter, in this case, Howard did well, registering a .918 OPS, good for 29th in the NL, one spot behind Albert Pujols.

With a runner at third and less than two outs, Howard was quite good last season, as well. In 48 plate appearances, Howard compiled a .324 average and a .917 OPS.

Think the Phillies could use a little of that right now? I think so.

Leading the Phillies in hitting with RISP is, of course, Carlos Ruiz. He’s 30th in the NL with an .867 OPS and 17th with a .343 average. But Chooch can’t do it all himself. I’m sure the team is well aware of their failures in these spots, but it bears repeating; they must get better or they’ll be a .500 club all season.

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