Thursday, May 14, 2009


Over at Circling the Bases, Matthew Pouliot's stat of the day yesterday was team's OPS with runners in scoring position. Overall, the Yankees ranked 18th, but in realtion to the total OPS, they had the third largest lag in the league with .53, behind only the Diamondbacks and the Nationals (those numbers have obviously changed as of today).

I think as fans, we have all at a certain point been frustrated with the Yankees' recent inabilty to get "clutch" hits and drive runners home, so I decided to try and get some historical perspective on this. 

Using Baseball-Reference, I took it all the way back to 1989 and charted the team's OPS, OPS w/runners in scoring position and winning percentage.

Here are a few things that jumped out:
  • Between 1989 and 2007, there were only three years in which the team's OPS w/RISP was lower than the team's overall OPS. However, that was the case last year and is so far this season as well. Is this more than a small sample size fluke? Is it a trend developing? 

  • Total OPS has a fairly strong correlation to winning percentage, with the expection of this year. 

  • Take a look at the increase in total OPS from 89-94. Sure, the team was getting better winning percentage-wise, but can you think of another thing that was starting to happen throughout baseball at that time?  

  • Interestingly, the 2009 Yanks have almost the exact same OPS as the 1998 team (.817 to .818), however in '98 that number with runners in scoring position was .860 compared with .793 this year.

  • That .860 figure is not the highest on the list. That would be the .862 belonging to the 2002 Yankees, who scored almost 100 fewer runs that the '99 team due to a lower total OPS. 
Any other observations? 


  1. Perhaps this is sabermetrically incorrect, but I think RISP situations are one of the few times batting average tells a better story.

    A BB can turn things into a bigger inning, an XBH can score a runner from first, but a single ought to guarantee you a run each time.

  2. I think BA tells a better story than OPB, but not OPS, since a homer counts the same a single in .BA. It's certainly is a better time than any other to look at BA, though.

    One thing that is pretty apparent is that nice little umbrella that forms over the championship years where OPS consistently higher with RISP. It makes you woonder how much of it is tied to confidence and swagger, which would make sense since the team doesn't seem to have much of either at the moment. Still a chicken or the egg condundrum, though.