LOB City: The Pirates & Leaving Men On Base

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:

Team LOB%
PHI 61.69%
MIN 60.23%
ATL 59.91%
SDP 59.60%
STL 59.49%
TBR 59.45%
WSN 59.26%
NYM 59.09%
NYY 58.72%
BOS 58.70%
CIN 58.29%
ARI 58.01%
PIT 57.95%
MIA 57.85%
KCR 57.74%
SEA 57.55%
CHC 57.55%
BAL 57.44%
HOU 57.23%
SFG 57.00%
LAD 56.98%
CLE 56.77%
TOR 55.63%
TEX 55.62%
CHW 55.18%
OAK 55.11%
LAA 54.24%
MIL 53.85%
COL 52.20%
DET 51.78%

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.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference. Thanks to Mark Lambo for the idea. 

Go Bucs

3 thoughts on “LOB City: The Pirates & Leaving Men On Base”

  1. Hey, thanks for clarifying that. Some stats are straightforward; others can be spun/misinterpreted. Glad to learn that the Pirates are doing better than the LOB numbers alone would indicate. Wonder what the final tallies were after last night’s rout? I tuned in just as the 6th inning was starting, nearly bailed, but was really glad I stuck around. Go Bucs!

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