At some point of this Pirates’ season, you’ve probably been frustrated with the number of runners being left on base during any given game. Whether you wanna call it LOB City (sorry LA Clippers) or LOBster Fest (sorry Red Lobster) or some other bizarre name, here’s the deal: the Pirates have left more men on base than any team in Major League Baseball. Here are the top five:
1. Pittsburgh, 827
2. Tampa Bay, 821
3. Philadelphia, 810
4. Boston, 803
5. Minnesota, 801
Fact is fact, but it’s not perfect. I tweeted the LOB stat after the Bucs left the bases loaded in the 8th inning last night, and got some feedback — one of our followers, Mark Lambo, suggested to look at the percentage of base runners left on base, rather than just straight-up LOB. And it makes sense.
See, the Pirates lead the league in another category: on-base percentage. This is quite impressive, as it shows the strides they’ve taken in literally not making outs, the main goal when one steps to the plate. They’ve been aiming for higher OBP’s since early in the season, and it’s something they’ve improved upon from 2013.
Since they’ve been getting more guys on base, it makes sense that they’d leave more on than teams that don’t have as high of an on-base percentage.
Using the components of OBP that measure “getting on base” — hits, walks, intentional walks, hit by pitch — and dividing that by the total number LOB, you get a left on-base percentage, like Mark suggested.
Here are the results:
League Average: 57.34%
So, while the Pirates have accumulated more LOB than any other team, that doesn’t mean they’re really any worse at converting base runners compared to the rest of the league. They’ve left nearly 58% of their men on base, which is just a tick over the league average. All teams have left between 52% and 62% on base without much deviation, so it’s pretty standard to be seeing what the Pirates have done.
Their high OBP has certainly led to more men being left on base, but it’s not like they’re stranding guys at a ridiculous rate. It sucks to see high totals of LOB every night, but it’s just part of the game — every team is stranding more than half of their runners, just like the Pirates. If anything, it’s good that they’re seeing so many more base runners, being that it should equate to more run scoring opportunities. They have been averaging more runs per game this year and are on pace to score 681 runs, which would be their best mark since 2008.