Unlike many baseball statistics, the success rate of driving runners in from third base with less than two outs is not easy to find.
It just seems like the Milwaukee Brewers have squandered countless of those chances this season, and manager Ron Roenicke confirmed as much. He’s seen the numbers, but would only say Milwaukee ranks near the bottom of the league in turning runners on third with less than two outs into runs.
“The numbers are really bad,” Roenicke said.
As the Brewers try to figure out a way to score enough runs to remain competitive offensively without the entire middle of their order, capitalizing on scoring chances is a must. When a ground ball to the middle infielders or a sacrifice fly is needed to score the run from third, the Brewers need at least to convert at the league average of 51 percent.
Milwaukee’s team speed and aggressiveness on the base paths allow the Brewers some ability to create scoring chances. Leading the league in triples and holding the league lead in stolen bases by a wide margin, the Brewers should have had the speed and power combination this season.
Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart have combined to hit just 15 home runs and drive in 64 runs this season after hitting 98 home runs with 300 RBI last season.
“Some of it is personnel and then some of it with the personnel you have is approach,” Roenicke said. “It’s the same thing as everything else — you get confident when you succeed. The more that you fail at this, all of a sudden you lose that confidence and you do things different.”
Facing Dan Haren on Saturday, the Brewers got a leadoff double from Rickie Weeks in the first inning. After Norichika Aoki sacrificed Weeks to third, Jean Segura struck out. Milwaukee went on to get shut out, 3-0, and didn’t get a runner past second base the rest of the game.
“It was a high pitch that he usually really hits well, but he decided he was going to take the pitch. That’s not ‘Seggy’,” Roenicke said. “He’s trying to do some different things to try and figure out how to get that guy home from third and he ends up striking out. With the infield back, all you need to do is hit a ground ball.”
A day later, the Brewers drove the runner in from third in five of the six chances they got and ended up rallying to win 8-5. How does Milwaukee make Sunday’s efforts in converting with runners on third with less than two outs the norm?
“They start changing, they start pressing and all these things happen,” Roenicke said. “It’s always the confidence that helps these guys be to the point — I don’t know what the percentages are of getting guys in from third – but being more consistent in your approach in what you do in getting guys in.”
While Roenicke hates to blame the offensive inconsistencies on the three guys out of the lineup, he knows how drastically his batting order changes without them.
Entering Monday night’s game, the Brewers have used 81 different lineups in 111 games, while Roenicke has used the same lineup no more than two days in a row. The lack of fire power is a reality and won’t change much for the rest of the season as Braun and Hart aren’t coming back.
“Who are your guys that drive in runs?” Roenicke said. “Unless you are the Yankees a few years ago or maybe the Cardinals now, when you start getting six, seven, eight, nine in your lineup, they are not run producers. Those guys don’t drive in 80, 90, 100 runs. It’s always three, four, five. That’s what we have out.”
Milwaukee isn’t going to string together multiple hits too often with its current lineup. Combine that with a lack of offensive execution and it’s easy to see why the Brewers have gone through offensive funks this season.
In a season in which makeshift lineups are going to continue until the final out, the Brewers must find a way to execute better if they want to finish the season strong.