There’s a famous baseball saying that describes perfectly the simplest way to score runs in a game: get ’em on, get ’em over, get ’em in. For the Milwaukee Brewers, the last part of that saying has been the toughest to achieve.
That’s not to say that their offense has been perfect by any means. After Thursday’s loss to the Cardinals and with games still to finish, the Brewers were sitting at 139 runs scored, sixth least in MLB, with the third worst team batting average (.213) and the fourth worst OPS (.655). Overall, it could still use some fixing.
But if that weren’t bad enough, Milwaukee’s offense has struggled even more in the situation where it matters most: when they have runners in scoring position.
For as much as Brewers fans think this is a continuing problem from last year, that’s not actually the case. In 2020, Milwaukee finished 13th with a .256 average with runners in scoring position, 9th with a .793 OPS, and 14th with a 109 wRC+.
This season, however, it’s been just as bad as fans think it has.
38 games into the 2021 season, the Brewers have had a rough time pushing runners in scoring position across the plate.
Milwaukee goes into this weekend’s series against the Braves with a 20-18 record, good for 2nd in the NL Central and tied for 6th best in the National League. But that hasn’t really been thanks to what the team has done with runners in scoring position.
The Brewers find themselves 2nd to last in hitting with runners in scoring position at .201, just a hair over the last place Tampa Bay Rays at .200. That, perhaps unsurprisingly, comes with a 25.1% strikeout rate that is the 6th highest rate in the league in that situation.
The team’s OPS with RISP is in a slightly better state at .675, which ranks as the 7th lowest mark in MLB. That is largely thanks to the team on base percentage, which is actually sitting at a respectable .337, which ranks them middle of the pack at 14th.
And there is one big factor that plays into that last number. The Brewers actually have a 14.3% walk rate with RISP, the 2nd highest rate in all of MLB, just behind the Yankees (15.2%). So at the very least, the Brewers are being patient in these situations and putting on extra baserunners.
The problem with that strategy is that unless the bases are loaded, those extra baserunners aren’t directly leading to a run scoring. It’s almost as if Milwaukee is being too patient and potentially needs to be more aggressive in attempting to push the runners across.
It’s also worth noting that some bad luck could be playing into things. The Brewers’ batting average on balls in play with RISP is a lowly .247, 3rd lowest in MLB. No one hit that low with RISP last season, so as that likely evens out, you probably see the Brewers start to knock more runs in.
It’s hard to think that the Brewers will continue to be this bad all year with runners in scoring position. As the team continues to get more healthy and some stats start evening out, hopefully those stranded baserunners turn into runs scored.