1. Walk Hard
As far as team batting average goes, the Senators are surprisingly one of the best offensive squads in the Eastern League. Through the first 104 games of the season, the Senators have hit at a .264 clip which is good enough for third in the 12-team league behind Trenton and Reading.
But where the team fails considerably is drawing walks and getting on base by other means. They rank 11th in the league with only 236 walks and are a whopping 81 free passes behind the 10th place New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Bowie leads the league with 443 base on balls to almost double the Senators’ total on the season.
Their .318 on-base percentage is tied for dead last in the league and nowhere is this more apparent than at the top of the order. For most of the season (at least until Perez’ recent promotion), manager Matt LeCroy penciled speedsters Eury Perez and Jeff Kobernus into the top two spots in his lineup night after night. Combined though the two players have drawn only 26 walks in 736 plate appearances. That is horrendous. Put a bat into the hands of a Harrisburg pitcher and he has almost the same chance of drawing a walk as the pitching staff has three base on balls in 91 plate appearances.
2. Singles Hitters
Without real power threats on the squad, the Senators are slugging .381 on the season which places them 11th in the league. But the lack of home runs aren’t the real story behind this number. Reading and Akron are tied for third in the league with a .394 slugging percentage while Reading has one less home run than Harrisburg and Akron has hit only seven more on the season. The Phillies and Aeros do however excel at hitting triples and doubles as they correspondingly lead the league in those offensive categories while Harrisburg falls into the middle of the pack in both.
The Senators in fact lead the Eastern League in singles with 674.
Despite using their team speed to steal a league leading number of bases, the Senators rarely pressure the defense off the crack of the bat. When’s the last time you’ve seen a player hustle their way into taking an extra base? It amounts to station to station baseball and fails to put runners in scoring position as frequently as other teams.
3. Stranding RISP
Speaking of runners in scoring position, LeCroy has lamented numerous times this season about the team’s lack of production with men on second and/or third base. The recent three-game series against the Fisher Cats is a prime example of this as the Senators went a putrid 4-for-29 in dropping two games.
But looking at their numbers on the season with RISP, I was honestly surprised how close they are to the overall baseline totals.
The batting average has dipped slightly but not drastically and the on-base percentage is negligibly the same. Their slugging percentage however is 38 points worse with runners in scoring position. Couple that with the 16 point drop in batting average and you’ll figure out that the Senators are producing even less extra-base hits with men in scoring position than their already low rate. So, instead of driving balls into the gap to plate runners from second base, the Senators are hitting mostly singles and not getting the guy home.
4. The Opposite of Clutch
So, what’s the real issue? How about batting with runners in scoring position with two outs?
LeCroy has noticed that his players’ approach changes with two outs and these numbers bear that out. He has mentioned that they try to get “big” instead of just sticking with the gameplan. To further solidify LeCroy’s observation and to put those numbers in perspective, let’s look at how they’ve hit with runners in scoring position and less than two outs.
Holy hell the difference is shocking. Can they purposely put the wrong number of outs up on the scoreboard to fool the players into thinking there are less than two outs?