What is RISP in Baseball? Statistic Explained

Michael Claunch

Baseball has always had a plethora of acronyms used by fans, players, coaches, and commentators. Over the last 20 years, it seems that baseball has exploded with even more acronyms. The desire to create a greater number of metrics to analyze the game has led to further acronyms such as WAR, UZR, DRS, and many more. 

One of the acronyms that baseball fans, new and old, may come across is RISP. You may be asking yourself, what does RISP mean in baseball? Well, RISP is a significant stat that can help managers understand how well their teams score runs or don’t. 

So, let’s dig into “what is RISP in baseball?”

What does RISP mean in baseball? 

RISP is one of the easier baseball acronyms to understand. RISP in baseball simply means runners in scoring position. Compared to baseball terms such as RF, wOBA, or GB%, runners in scoring position is a simple concept.  

For runners to be in scoring position, there must be a runner on second base. At the very least, a runner can only be in scoring position if they are on second base. In addition, a runner on third base is considered RISP. A runner on first base does not qualify as RISP. Why? Because it would take more than a single to get the runner around the diamond to score.  

If a runner is on second base, it is believed that a single would allow that runner to race home to score. Therefore, a runner on second base is considered a runner in scoring position. This isn’t always the case due to several factors, but in many circumstances, a runner can be chased home to score. 

The RIPS MLB stat was invented to calculate a team’s clutch hitting and how well their batters do in high-pressure situations. In addition, it measures how well a team does with runners on the basepaths.  

How is the stat used? 

What is RISP in baseball has now been explained, but to truly understand the statistic, it must be explained further. The runners-in-scoring position stats are used heavily in Major League Baseball. General managers, coaches, and managers will use the stat to understand their team further. It is a stat that can be used to uncover a hidden gem in the trade market or to decide how to piece together a batting line-up.  

A manager may review the runners in scoring position stats of their team and individual players. The team’s offense can be dissected using RISP. The potential of a team’s offense can be determined by how they perform with runners in scoring position. This potential could either be good or bad.  

Oftentimes, fans can look at the RISP of a particular team to see how well they are playing. For example, if the Oakland A’s are struggling to win ball games, fans may see that the team cannot score runs with runners in scoring position. RISP has a direct link to a team’s performance, unlike some of the other statistics that have been created by stat heads over the last 20 to 30 years.  

What strategies are used to score runs? 

In the past, baseball managers were always trying to move runners into scoring position. This was often done by either stealing second, bunting the runner over to second, or using the hit-and-run. Modern baseball doesn’t see these tactics as effective.  

mlb risp

Yet, for decades, this was how Major League Baseball, and baseball at all levels, was played. By getting a runner to second base, a simple single could potentially score the run. Now, teams rely more on home runs and big hits.  

Modern baseball’s reliance on sabermetrics has made RISP a lost art. On-base percentage and being conservative on the basepaths have led to RISP being forgotten about by some. Teams are now built more on power-hitting. Perhaps one day, a trend of using RISP and moving runners into scoring position one hit at a time will return.  

At one time, bunting players into scoring position was popular. Teams used to play for one run at a time. Before Moneyball, teams didn’t think about scoring more than one run at a time. However, Moneyball has led to teams playing for the two-run home run and scoring as many runs as possible at one time. 

Teams used to use “small ball” to create scoring opportunities. This meant managers were willing to bunt, steal bases, and hit-and-run. Moneyball identifies these tactics as giving away outs. Previously, giving away outs was a necessary evil, and teams traded runs for outs. In the MLB playoffs, moving runners into scoring position and playing for one run at a time is still a tactic used. 

MLB RISP – Runners left in scoring position 

A baseball team’s objective is to score the runners in scoring position. However, this doesn’t always occur. Innings regularly end with runners left in scoring position. This means the third out is made with a runner or runners left on third and/or second base.  

If a runner is left in scoring position, it is a negative stat that teams do not want to tally. The runners left in scoring position, also known as runners left on base, is a statistic that measures how inefficient a team’s offense is at scoring runs.  

For example, a team may ground out to the second base to end an inning with a runner left on third base. If a team is struggling to score runs, a look at the RISP average can identify how inefficient the team is at getting runs across home plate. 

One of the complaints about RISP is that it is an inefficient stat today. It is argued that teams that get men on base frequently will have a high runner left-on-base percentage. By getting more hits and having more opportunities to score, a team will tally a high left-on-base stat.  

In decades past, this may not have been true as teams played for one run and tried to manufacture scoring. Pitching was more dominant, with teams fighting for every run rather than waiting for a hitter to go yard.  

So, what is RISP in baseball? The acronym simply means runners in scoring position. Second and third base are considered scoring position as these positions are easier to knock-in runs. 

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