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The Nats and Situational Hitting

Yesterday the Nats lost a baseball game, and as many would like to point outthey lost this game because of situational hitting. By that most people mean situational out making. The Nats had three golden opportunities to score runs. Twice they had first and third with no outs and once the bases loaded and no outs, and every time the Nats failed to plate even one run. By run expectancy the number of runs that can be expected to be scored in those situations by an average MLB offense are 1.6 and 2.2. The Nats however do not have an average MLB offense. An average MLB offense is hitting .253/.317/.401 and the Nats, .233/.292/.374. In other words because the Nats aren't even an average hitting team their run expectancy is going to be lower, but it shouldn't be to a point where zero is an acceptable or an expected outcome, but like most things in baseball an average is reached due to extremes more often than consistency.  

Most people look at those situations and blame the Nats poor situational hitting ignoring the fact that most teams hover right around 50% in scoring runners from third with less than two outs. The Nats are no different at 46% and while that is second worst in baseball it isn't that far off from the league average of 50%, and the Nats being sixth worst in opportunities is far more troubling. No matter how the Nats were doing in such situations people would take issue and remember the good old days when teams always scored runners from third with less than two outs. Those days never existed. The MLB average is always somewhere around 50%, and the correlation in runs scored is found more with opportunities than it is with the production in the situation itself. The St. Louis Cardinals are only 2% better at plating a runner from third with less than two outs than the Nationals, but they have scored over one and a half more runs per game, but have had 38 more base runners on third with less than two outs.

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