Death to Runners in Scoring Position Batting Averages

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Matt Snyder of CBS Sports.com addresses one of my biggest annoyances: announcers who spend tons of time talking about how the team they’re covering hits with runners in scoring position. Hit even harder: batting average with two outs and runners in scoring position. The target of his ire was Reds announcer Thom Brennaman, who mentioned this stat with respect to Joey Votto a lot. Read the column for some good stuff about how there’s a subtle — or sometimes not-so-subtle — criticism of player character and clutch-a-bility and all of that when it comes to RISP stats.

I get annoyed when hear this from announcers too. It’s right up there with their fetish for hitters which go the other way. You never hear about hitters who pull the ball with extreme effectiveness. You rarely hear about guys simply being great hitters, full stop.  That opposite-field hitting an RISP stuff is basically an announcer say “listen as I analyze the hell out of this game for you.”

Not that it’s entirely useless. It’s just misused. RISP numbers are things that actually happen in the world. And when used as an explanation for what happens in the past tense, fine, it does tell us that a team or player missed out on some opportunities. But it doesn’t have predictive value. It doesn’t speak to ability at all, actually. Just chance and stuff happening.  If the broadcaster can walk that fine line, great. But it’s so rare that they can.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

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The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.

After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.

Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.