Where Is Minnesota’s Clutch Hitting?
Another game has passed and more runners were left stranded in scoring position. The Minnesota Twins wrapped up their homestand by going 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position (RISP) on Monday against the Mets. After today’s game, the Twins are batting .229 with RISP in 1090 AB (3rd most AB with RISP) this season and if you toss in their .223 split with 2 outs and RISP, this team has been anything but clutch.
What makes these stats even worse, the Twins have struck out 287 times with runners in scoring position while they have only come through with 250 base hits.
On their most recent 8 game home stand, the Twins’ record was 2-6 while batting below .200 with RISP. Batting 15 for 81 over a home stand is understandable as sometimes the clutch hitting just is not there for a few games, but 8 games in a row batting .185 in those situations is a tell tale sign of a significant issue. With that said, the lack of hitting with RISP has been abysmal for most of the season; especially in the month of August. Over their last 10 games, the Twins are an anemic 17 for 108 (.157) and struggling to come through with any sort of hit to drive in runs.
As of August 19th, only one player on the every day roster is hitting over .300 with RISP; and no folks it’s not Joe Mauer. It’s Brian Dozier.
Aug 7, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier (2) drives in a run in the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
With a batting line of .311/.375/.544, Dozier leads the Twins in BA and home runs with RISP and is one of the very few bright spots when it comes to driving in runs. At the beginning of the year, I can guarantee Dozier did not cross my mind, or anyone’s mind, as a hitter that would be leading the Twins in batting average with RISP. In regards to his success hitting with runners on 2nd and/or 3rd base, Dozier isn’t just getting singles and doubles, but home runs as well as he has 4 home runs and 41 RBI when the Twins need him to drive in runs. His best game this year showing off his ability to drive in runs in crucial situations was on August 2nd against the Astros. Dozier came through with not one, but two of our team’s three hits with RISP as he had the all important game tying and game winning RBI base hits.
While Dozier has been getting base hits and driving in runs this season, Ryan Doumit is doing basically the opposite. Despite an early season surge, Doumit is hitting .198/.279/.289 with RISP this year. Yes, you read that correctly. One of our “power hitters” who is supposed to drive in runs is hitting below the Mendoza Line in those situations. Doumit has missed time here and there throughout the season, but he has had the 2nd most PA on the team with RISP with 140 and has only delivered 24 hits. To put his numbers in perspective, Dozier could go 0 for his next 50 and still be batting better than Doumit is with RISP. As a major league hitter who is vying for a full time spot in the lineup, batting below .200 when the Twins need him to come through is not an effective way of securing any sort of starting spot.
As the season winds down, the Twins will be focusing more on the fundamentals like situational hitting as the team’s playoff hopes are all but out the window at this point. While the season has been a roller-coaster ride from the get-go, Dozier has been a key bright spot to grow on with both his defensive highlight reel plays and his offensive production out of the leadoff spot. Doumit, on the other hand, has not been productive when given the chance to drive in runs, which brings up the discussion how often he will be a DH or spot start in the lineup come 2014.
Regardless of where and how often Doumit will be playing for us come 2014, many of the other starters need to start carrying their weight offensively as well if they want to retain their spots in the Major Leagues. If this season of poor situational hitting is a sign of things to come, there may be a few more down years of constantly stranding leadoff doubles and men on 3rd with less than 2 outs before the Twins are capable of bouncing back to being relevant again.