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Regression Goes Both Ways

It's a fact that, overall, hitters are more productive with men in scoring position than they are with no one on base. The numbers bear that out. In the American League this year, the OPS difference is +.026. Last year it was +.045. The year before it was +.038. In run-scoring situations, batters walk a lot more and also hit for a higher average than they do with the bases empty.

It is with that in mind that I present to you the following two splits:

Mariner batters, bases empty: .265/.311/.403, .299 BABIP
Mariner batters, RISP:.234/.323/.366, .250 BABIP

Mariner pitchers, bases empty: .247/.313/.379, .285 BABIP
Mariner pitchers, RISP: .224/.329/.315, .259 BABIP

At the plate, the Mariners have been unsustainably bad with runners in scoring position. The main culprit? A laughably poor .250 batting average on balls in play. The average BABIP shoots up by five or six points with RISP. The Mariners' has dropped by 49. That's going to change over the rest of the season, and the offense is going to appear more productive as a result. (For the record, Ichiro/Branyan/Griffey/Gutierrez account for 39% of plate appearances with nobody on and 35% of plate appearances with RISP.)

On the mound, meanwhile, the Mariners have been unsustainably good with runners in scoring position. Here, there are two factors at play - an improved BABIP and a crazy home run rate. Not only has the BABIP dropped by 26 points, but their rate of home runs allowed has gone from once every 40 plate appearances with the bases empty to once every 81 with RISP. Compare that to the league average split of 1-in-32 and 1-in-44. That's not going to continue.

Through 75 games, the Mariners have had both good and bad fortune with runners in scoring position, making their offense seem worse and their pitching seem better than they really are. Get ready for things to even out. Those of you who're fans of low-scoring games - I hope you've enjoyed yourselves, because while this team will never be accused of lighting up the scoreboard, you can count on more runs scoring in the second half than we've seen in the first.