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Two Outs? No Problem For Angels

I had read a comment the other day which stated that the Angels seemed to score a lot of run with two outs.  It got me thinking "Was this true?"  And if so, "Why?"
 
I've never had a problem figuring out the "what", in this case, do the Angels score more runs with two outs.  My problem has always been the "how" and "why". 

Using baseball-reference.com, I imported each teams, split stats for this season, and in fact, the Angels do score more runs with two outs. Actually, they score 40% of their runs after getting two outs:

Angels

Runs Scored

Zero outs

219

One out

294

Two outs

348

 
Now, the hard part;
1. Why do they score more runs with two outs, and;
2. How do they score more runs with two outs?
 
First I had to compare the Angels to the rest of the league with two outs.  Was it just a normal part of the game to score later in the inning?  At first thought, that would seem to make sense.  The more hitters to appear in the inning, the more likely the chances were that one would score.
 
Of the 14 American league teams, no team scored most of their runs with less than one out, which follows along with the above hypothesis.  However, 10 teams scored more runs with one out than with zero or two outs.  The Angels were just one of four teams to do most of their scoring after getting two outs in the inning. 
 
The four teams who scored later in the inning were the Angels, Rangers, Royals, and Red Sox

Outs

Angels

Red Sox

Rangers

Royals

Zero outs

219

189

173

143

One out

294

292

291

260

Two outs

348

359

298

264

When looking at the split stats for these 4 teams, you'll notice the Rangers and Royals outscored their one out run totals by 7 or less, while the Angels and Red Sox run totals were significantly higher.  I would take this to suggest the Royals and Rangers weren't exceptionally capable of scoring with two outs, but rather just as efficient with two outs as they were with one.  Thus, teams can be separated into 3 categories:
 
1. Score significantly more runs with one out;
2. Score roughly the same number of runs with one or two outs (+/- 10%);
3. Score more runs with two outs.
 
Teams scoring more runs with one out:  Orioles +54, Indians +43, and Mariners +38.
 
Teams scoring roughly the same with one or two outs (one out runs—two out runs) :  White Sox +22, Tigers +27, Royals -4, Twins +25, Yankees +15, A's +10, Rays +22, Rangers -7, and Blue Jays +15.

Teams scoring more runs with two outs:  Angels +54 and Red Sox +67.
 
I next looked at each team's ability to get on base and noted that the Angels and Red Sox drew their highest percentage of walks after getting two outs.  Except this didn't help explain their performance as ALL teams drew a highest percentage of walks after getting two outs.  It appears that hitters are much more selective if they are the potential third out. 

With two outs, the Angels and Red Sox led the league in Plate Appearances, Runs, Hits, Doubles, Batting Average, On Base Percentage, Slugging Percentage, Total Bases, and Batting Average on Balls In Play.  This is the "why" they've outscored the rest of the league.  They simply out-hit everyone else with two outs.  But this doesn't answer the "how".  How were the Angels and Red Sox able to basically "step-up" their game with two outs?

Was it possible the Angels and Red Sox set-up their two out run scoring earlier in the inning?  Possibly by doing one or more of the following;

  • Avoiding double plays
  • Stealing more bases
  • Bunting more often

Double Plays
I know my perception of the Angels after watching 100+ games this season was that they hit into a ton of double plays, and after looking at the data, that perception was somewhat justified.  Only one other team hit into more double plays than the Angels and Red Sox with none out.  Yet, when looking at the data a little more closely, the top four teams who hit into the most double plays with no outs were the Twins, Red Sox, Angels, and Yankees.   Four very good teams.  These four teams, plus the Tampa Bay Rays, also are the league leaders in on-base percentage with no outs.  Interestingly, the Rays hit into the least amount of double plays probably based on the fact they also led the league in stolen bases by almost 50% with none out.  This ability of the Rays to get on base and their speed once they did get on allowed them to score the third most runs before making an out.  The Yankees scored the most runs with none out primarily because they had the highest on-base percentage and out slugged every other team by leading the league in extra-base hits.

With one out in the inning, the Angels and Red Sox faired better in not doubling up the runners.  Surprisingly, the Angels were the third best team in avoiding double plays with one out.  However, both teams were just league average in scoring runs, and were below average in slugging percentage with one out.  

In my opinion, double plays did not play a big role in the Angels and Red Sox scoring abilities, although it did help slightly.  Since the four highest scoring teams also hit into the most double plays, it appears double plays are an indicator of good hitting clubs and have little effect on a teams' ability to score runs.  Obviously, double plays reduce scoring chances, but good hitting teams are going to score runs regardless of double plays.

Stolen Bases
The Angels were probably helped in scoring runs with two outs by their ability to steal bases, as they led the league in two out steals and attempted steals.  Their 95 attempted steals with two outs exceeded any other stolen base situation as it was 50% of their total stolen base attempts(a trend the Red Sox will have noted heading into the playoffs.)With their 73 stolen bases with two outs, the Angels no doubt boosted their chances of scoring.  I don't know the exact amount, but if a third of the stolen bases resulted in runs scored, that would account for almost 25 runs.  The Red Sox, on the other hand attempted 52 steals resulting in 37 stolen bases.  Using the same formula of a third scoring, the stolen bases by the Red Sox baserunners is nowhere near as big of an impact on their run total.

Bunts
The Angels are known for playing "small ball" by using bunts and situational hitting, and they have laid down 41 sacrifice hits so far this season(the Mariners have bunted a league-leading 55 times.)In contrast, the Red Sox have bunted just 19 times.  Bunting may have helped the Angels, but probably just slightly, and had little effect on the Red Sox's ability to score with two outs.

Conclusion
The Angels do score more runs with two outs than at any other inning situation because of numerous factors.  They hit better, run better and get on base better than most other teams.  Plus, there may be some "unmeasureable" element that the Angels do to increase their scoring chances.  I hate to mention "clutch", but the Angels do lead the league in hitting with runners in scoring position. 

As I stated in the opening paragraph of this article, finding the "what" was pretty simple.  Yes, the Angels do score more runs with two outs.  Resolving the "why" and "how" is beyond by ability, but hopefully I've been able to highlight some possible reasons the Angels have been one of the best two out run scoring teams in the A.L. this season.