In 2013, the Angels had just 10 hits in their first 79 at-bats with runners in scoring position, good for a .127 batting average that ranked last in the Majors through the first nine games. By the end of the year, though, that number rose to .264, good for 10th in the Majors.
So, take what you will out of the Angels going 1-for-19 with runners in scoring position in a series-opening sweep to the Mariners.
"We talk about what parts of our team right now you need to apply patience to and what parts you need to adjust, and we need to be patient there," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It'll happen."
Hitters will tell you it's a lot more difficult to bat with runners in scoring position, because of the pressure of the situation and because the opposing pitcher is bearing down. But small sample sizes can be particularly deceiving in this circumstance. Many believe that over time, results with runners in scoring position -- similar to results in the postseason -- will reflect a player's general track record over long enough stretches.
"Not hitting with runners in scoring position is really a function of guys not really being comfortable at the box right now for the first 10, 15 at-bats," Scioscia said. "It's going to go hand-in-hand where you're not comfortable and you're not hitting that some of those situations will find you and you may not get hits in it. But I don't think it's a problem at all with the approach."
The Angels stressed situational hitting in Spring Training, with hitting coach Don Baylor calling out specific situations during batting practice. But acting that out in a regular season game, in front of sold-out crowds and with a Major League pitcher taking it to another level with guys on base, isn't really something can be practiced.
"You can talk about situations every day," right fielder Kole Calhoun said, "but when you get in that situation, I don't think there's anything that can simulate it.
"This is a potent lineup. We ain't clicking yet, but we will soon."