RISP in baseball stands for “runners in scoring position” and refers to runners who are on second or third base. RISP is also used in the context of multiple types of statistics.
The idea of having a runner in scoring position means that a runner is in position to score if the batter at the plate collects a single. Depending on where the ball drops, it’s almost certain that a man on third base can score on a base hit. Often, a man on second base can also score on a single, particularly if it lands in deep(ish) right field.
So a runner is considered to be in scoring position if he is on either second or third base with a batter at the plate.
The performance of a batter or team when there are runners in scoring position is sometimes used as a proxy for how “clutch” their hitting is. Does a batter have a much higher batting average when he comes to the plate with RISP as opposed to when the bases are empty or there’s just a runner on first? Then maybe he’s a clutch hitter.
The number of plate appearances that a team has with runners in scoring position is also a sort of very loose measure of either their non-home-run power, their on-base and base running abilities, or a combination of those attributes.
A team who leads the league in plate appearances with RISP, for example, puts a lot of runners at second and third for the batters coming up behind them. That’s usually accomplished through a combination of getting on base, flashing some extra-base power (and speed), and running aggressively and smartly to take extra bases when they’re available.
All in all, RISP — or runners in scoring position — is a useful concept that will help you get more out of your baseball viewing and will give you a better understanding of the game and why players and managers make the decisions they do.
Did you know? The great Ted Williams, who hit .344 over the course of his career, hit “only” .328 with runners in scoring position?