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  1. I agree with everything said here and don’t even disagree about what was said about Martin, it was a dumb mistake. At the same time it is difficult to believe a few things: 1) that you can say a runner on third would be nearly meaningless with 2 outs since although the most important thing was to tie, in martins view they already had so the third run would be very big in the ninth and obviously more likely with a runner on third. 2) How did it possibly take martin 7 seconds to only get that far? had he stopped at second which seems to make more sense, because even he is not that slow and he was running on contact, then he had enough time to stop and realize the situation which makes this all worse.

    Comment by zbelair — June 24, 2010 @ 10:29 am

  2. knowing that martin should’ve been running on contact, and that he had even more time to think about it does indeed make it worse. Pretty horrible baserunning by the dodgers all in one inning… wow.

    Comment by Matt K — June 24, 2010 @ 10:45 am

  3. I know there’s going to be another post, but how was that not the most obvious balk by Fuentes on the pickoff? I don’t think you can move your plant foot in the process of making a spin-move pickoff.

    Comment by Greg — June 24, 2010 @ 10:56 am

  4. This is the team that had 2 people thrown out at home on the same throw in the post season. (either 06 or 07) vs the mets.

    But it’s understandable to slow down towards home. It cost them dearly here, but that is the natural reaction when there is no throw.

    Comment by joeiq — June 24, 2010 @ 10:58 am

  5. Not down a run in the 9th.

    Comment by Rich — June 24, 2010 @ 11:02 am

  6. “With Martin expecting a throw home, he was rounding second in the event of a poor throw. But advancing to third base would be nearly meaningless with two outs. ”

    I agree that this is way off base.

    With a runner as slow as Martin, being at third would have been hugely valuable. He’s not fast enough where a single is going to assuredly score him.

    Comment by Rich — June 24, 2010 @ 11:03 am

  7. The real problem is that MLB salaries, for the vast majority of players, are not based on baserunning skills. If you are in the majors, you are there because of hitting or defense, or some combination of the two. Hence there is no incentive for the players to really practice baserunning skills, except to win games of course.

    Economic incentives seem to work wonders for clearly defined skills that can be codified as statistics. That leads to a good number of players who show little interest in using optimal running strategies. MLB Network discussed Bernandina wrongly turning his head, while rounding third, to check the outfield throw in a 1-0 game yesterday, which made the play much closer than it should have been at the plate.

    Comment by Phantom Stranger — June 24, 2010 @ 11:13 am

  8. Run frequency, 2 outs:

    12x: .249
    1×3: .277


    So it’s not totally meaningless, but certainly not worth risking the out there.

    Comment by Jack Moore — June 24, 2010 @ 11:14 am

  9. “He’s not fast enough where a single is going to assuredly score him.”

    That doesn’t matter if the game is over. The key thing here is they were down one run. With one out? Sure, you want to draw a throw to let the run score. With two outs and a 90% chance Johnson scores to tie the game, running into the third out seems an indefensibly bad choice.

    Comment by jimbo — June 24, 2010 @ 11:19 am

  10. also, given Reed had a healthy lead, is 3.6 seconds even reasonable to get home in, he was rounding the base so had some acceleration sure (but not as much as you think, and this is partially offset by the fact that his actual trip home is now more than 90 feet), but that’s also a decently fast split. That equates to about a 4.8 40, with obviously the last 10 yards being the fastest. Still, its not like he is running those last 10 yards in .8 seconds or something.

    For those jaded by NFL scouting combine times, a 4.8 is a very impressive number, especially for a baseball player. I’d say reliably the average college soccer player (who i would rate as on average at least on par with MLB players in terms of raw foot speed) that run in the 5.0-5.2 range. Also lets say at 1.45 seconds he was halfway, which it looked like. That meant his second 15 yards was run in 2.15 (a not unreasonable split)

    if he was a little faster coming home i’d expect each split at around 2 seconds. So 3.6 seconds is fast, bu

    Comment by TheUnrepentantGunner — June 24, 2010 @ 11:30 am

  11. how is this johnson’s fault? should he apologize for not factoring in how retarded his teammates are when he was rounding third?

    Comment by brendan — June 24, 2010 @ 11:46 am

  12. The expected run difference between a runner on second and a runner on third is very small with two outs.

    Comment by AndyS — June 24, 2010 @ 11:55 am

  13. Oh, Jack beat me to it.


    Comment by AndyS — June 24, 2010 @ 11:55 am

  14. Maybe I’m just naive or something, but running full speed 100% of the time until you cross the plate with the tying run (in any inning, but especially the 9th inning) doesn’t seem that hard to me. In fact, it seems like pretty much a given that you would run your absolute hardest until you were safely across the plate with the winning run. You wouldn’t do it necessarily because you are “factoring in how retarded” your teammates are, but rather simply because it is a fairly important run and scoring it faster is always better.

    Comment by Shannon — June 24, 2010 @ 12:15 pm

  15. “That doesn’t matter if the game is over.”

    Clearly, but the statement has nothing to do with that. The statement is that taking third in that situation is useless, when its clearly not.

    Running into the third out has nothing to do with the statement I was taking issue to. You’re arguing against a strawman.

    Comment by Rich — June 24, 2010 @ 12:18 pm

  16. And those numbers are nice when you’re talking about the league as a whole. They’re useless when you’re talking about a runner who isn’t league average. Chances are, the 1×3 number is similar for Martin, but the 12x number is much lower with a slower runner on second.

    Comment by Rich — June 24, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

  17. “That equates to about a 4.8 40, with obviously the last 10 yards being the fastest.”

    “, a 4.8 is a very impressive number, especially for a baseball player. ”

    A 4.8 isn’t fast at all when you’re starting it at a full run. A 4.8 is impressive in the 40 because people accelerate slowly.

    Comment by Rich — June 24, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

  18. Exactly. We see guys hustling to score a tying run in slow pitch beer league softball. The idea that a guy making millions to play the game shouldn’t have to do it is silly.

    Comment by Rich — June 24, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

  19. so let’s blame the guy who should have scored easily instead of the moron who got thrown out with the entire play happening right in front of him.

    Comment by brendan — June 24, 2010 @ 1:33 pm

  20. This reminds me of Nick Punto being a bonehead a couple weeks back on what should have been a sac fly.

    Instead of running in and scoring, he stood around like a clown and watched another runner get doubled off to end the inning.

    Comment by Not David — June 24, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

  21. I would assign equal blame.

    Comment by Not David — June 24, 2010 @ 1:38 pm

  22. Players are not faceless automatons. Some of them are fast, some are slow. Martin is slow. Expected runs per inning aren’t much different when you have 12- and 1-3 with 2 outs and Juan Pierre is your lead runner, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that there is a relatively large disparity when Martin is.

    Comment by LD303 — June 24, 2010 @ 1:55 pm

  23. I remember that play. Can’t remember which fielder made the catch, but it seemed like Punto was in disbelief that the ball was caught and noticed that the runner on 2nd was going to be doubled off easily, so he didn’t attempt to score. However, if he had scored before the runner at 2nd was doubled off, his run would have counted.

    But, I don’t know if Punto had even tagged up (when I was watching it on TV, the video didn’t show where he started). If he didn’t try to tag up, then that could have explained why he didn’t try to score. Unfortunately, though, there’s a little known baseball rule that Punto could have taken advantage of to have his run count, even if he didn’t tag up, known as the “fourth out.” An example of the “fourth out” happened last year.

    Comment by Bryz — June 24, 2010 @ 2:03 pm

  24. “so let’s blame the guy who should have scored easily instead of the moron who got thrown out with the entire play happening right in front of him.”

    Both people can be put to blame.

    Comment by Rich — June 24, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

  25. It was a deep flyball to right-center, Punto would have been preparing to tag-up right from the start.

    Comment by Not David — June 24, 2010 @ 2:24 pm

  26. The replays that the Twins broadcast showed would have been better, as they showed Punto standing around at third after the catch before loafing his way home.

    Comment by Not David — June 24, 2010 @ 2:27 pm

  27. While you are right that making it to third with 2 outs is not useless, but it is not worth taking the risk in most situations. It’s one of those cardinal sins in baseball, that you don’t make the first or third out at third base. Martin essentially made the third out trying to go from first to third on a ball to left field. He would have been more likely to score later in the inning if he had just taken 2nd, than if he had gotten out, which he did.

    On the bloop hit, Johnson was going to score easily, so Rivera had no reason to attempt a throw home. Of course, many left fielders probably would have thrown home in that situation anyway, which is what Martin was probably banking on. Unfortunately for him, Rivera made a great heads-up play, throwing out the go-ahead run, with the added bonus that it happened before the tying run scored.

    Yes, it would have been better if Martin had made it to third than if he had been on second. But not much better. It is not worth taking the risk of making an out. Baserunners should only attempt that when they are sure that they will make it. A couple of huge baserunning blunders, combined with a very smart play by Rivera and Kendrick, gave the Angels the win.

    Comment by max — June 24, 2010 @ 4:41 pm

  28. It wasn’t completely Johnson’s fault obviously. But it is possible that had he been running full speed on contact, and with the momentum from his secondary lead, he could have scored before the out was made. Sometimes guys have to pick up their teammates. Most of the blame should lie with Martin. And it was a great play by Rivera. But Johnson could have helped by running at full speed the entire way.

    Like in that dropped popup by Luis Castillo last year, how many guys would have been running hard the whole way like Teixeira was? It was a popup to the infield, easily catchable. The game was all but over. Many MLB players I feel would have hardly been half way to third by the time the ball dropped, giving the Mets enough time to recover and stop the winning run from scoring. Maybe Reed Johnson is one of those.

    Comment by max — June 24, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

  29. there’s really no blame at all to be laid on johnson and it’s laughable that anyone is seriously trying to do so. get real people. in football, if a guy coasts 50 yards with the ball because he’s got an open field to a touchdown, and his own teammate comes and tackles him down, is it the first guy’s fault for not running hard enough to avoid his teammate’s stupidity?

    seriously, the entire play was RIGHT in front of martin.

    Comment by brendan — June 24, 2010 @ 5:40 pm

  30. I’ve slid in home on a hit by pitch with the bases loaded. Was not appreciated oddly enough.

    Comment by kardo — June 24, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

  31. How can you blame Punto? If you’re tagging up at third and the fly ball is ripped to the wall, I bet almost every runner at third is jogging in because he knows there will be no play at the plate. How did he know that Span would have a brain freeze and get doubled up off second?

    Comment by Pokey — June 24, 2010 @ 8:00 pm

  32. He knew because Span met him at 3rd base, they damn near ran right into each other when Punto went back to the back to tag. The reason Punto didn’t run home wasn’t because he assumed he was going to score easily, it was because he assumed Span was going to get doubled off.

    This was clearly shown in a replay during the Twins broadcast, unfortunately only has the Royals version.

    Comment by Not David — June 24, 2010 @ 8:30 pm

  33. Okay, let’s put asde our “Little League” notions of baseball, and understand that in MLB, over 162 games, 7 monthes, 600+ PA, etc that guys don’t run everything out. It could just be because [1] after that much experience you know when you’ve got it and when you don’t, and/or [2] I don’t want pujols risking a hammy or quad injury busting ass down the 1st base line trying to beat out a routine grouder. Nor do I want him doing that 30 times a month, leading to an accumulaton injury in September.

    Now, I know these situations are often ripe opps for the every man to relic back to his youth baseball days and reort that they hustled all te tim, or that if they were making 5M a year they’d bust ass on every play and basically any other scenario where one postulate what tey would do or they would play, and blah , blah, blah.

    I would prefer Reed just get his butt to home plate, butevery player coasts around 3rd whn there’s no play at home. Martin was fine rounding second, it happens 100+ times a week in MLB.

    What happened was LAA made a helluva defensive play to throw behind the runner.

    Combined with the pickoff play at 2B, LAA made 2 great defensive plays that no other team thinks to make. THAT should be the focus of the article, IMHO … that a team decided to try and get an out without delivering a pitch, and they threw behind a runner saving a run … when everyone else just goes through the defensive motions.

    To fault Reed and Martin is somewhat ridiculous because the same scenario plays out hundreds of times without a play behind the runner.

    As an analogy, my grandfather slows down while driving when he approaches an intersection, even if he has a green light, or the right a way (no stop sign, no yield, etc) because “you never know”. That’s the mentality a runner would need to have in order to prvent these “behind the runner” plays.

    Again, we could fault Reed for not bustin butt, but we’d need to do the same thing for countless runners who coast from 3rd to home, without event. As we often say here at FG, Reed was just “unlucky” … he did the same thing everyoneelse did, but because of strange occurrences got an uncommon result.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — June 24, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

  34. Sorry for the typing mistakes. My keyboard is dying.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — June 24, 2010 @ 8:33 pm

  35. As someone else had pointed out I think you do have to lay some blame on Martin because the play is unfolding in front of him, and it’s his decision whether he stays at 2nd or continues to 3rd. Obviously you want Johnson to run through the plate but its not uncommon for him to slow there.

    And you have to give some credit to the Angels there for finding some outs for Fuentes.

    Comment by Tom — June 24, 2010 @ 11:26 pm

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