Alex Gordon Barely Had a Chance

Imagine if, for some reason, you completely missed Game 7. Not only did you miss it — you didn’t hear anything about it, from friends or from family or from the Internet. You get home, and this is the first thing you see:

jirschele

What on earth has to be going through your mind? It requires special circumstances for a third-base coach to end up with a postgame interview. And why is this one smiling? He must’ve made one hell of a decision. You know what the rules are, with regard to attention paid to base coaches. They only get it when they’ve done something controversial.

People want there to be a controversy here. The way the World Series ended was final, conclusive. Salvador Perez, 100% absolutely, made the last out on a foul pop-up. There is no what-might-have-been with Perez’s at-bat. So many have turned to the play before, when Alex Gordon was stopped at third after sprinting on a single and an error. It’s a frantic search for closure that resembles a frantic avoidance of such, and without any doubt in my mind, if Gordon had been waved around, it would’ve made for an all-time moment regardless. But while we can’t say for sure that Gordon would’ve been toast, since the play never happened, it sure seems to me the odds were too strongly against him. Mike Jirschele did the smart thing, and Alex Gordon did the smart thing, and Salvador Perez did the following thing. Barring a miracle, sending Gordon would’ve just ended the game a few minutes sooner.

We can walk through some simple break-even math, using this win-expectancy spreadsheet I’ve had for years. All of the numbers are approximates, estimates, but they’re close enough, meaning the result is close enough. As Gordon arrived safely at third, the Royals’ win expectancy stood at about 15%. That’s going to serve as our, I don’t know, fulcrum? If Gordon rounds and makes an out, the Royals’ win expectancy drops to exactly 0%. However, if Gordon goes and is safe, the Royals’ win expectancy jumps to about 55%. So, in one direction, there’s a 15% loss, and in the other there’s a 40% gain. We’re left with a breakeven rate of about 28%.

You can quibble a few points in either direction, but that’s right in the ballpark. Maybe the rate’s a little lower, because Madison Bumgarner was pitching. Maybe the rate’s a little higher, because Salvador Perez was batting, with the platoon advantage, and he’s been considerably better against lefties in his career. Remember that he’s solely responsible for the only World Series run Bumgarner’s ever allowed. One needn’t argue the details; the breakeven rate was somewhere around, let’s say, 25-35%. That’s low! That requires a low frequency of success!

It’s not possible to sit here and conclusively determine Gordon’s odds of making it. All we can do is make an educated guess, but my guess is Gordon’s odds were truly much lower. Jirschele clearly agreed, based on his decision and based on his words. As he said to MLB.com:

“As soon as Crawford secured it, and I saw where Alex was, I just felt we had no chance of scoring him.”

From Jeff Passan’s column:

“Believe me, I wanted to send him,” Jirschele said. “I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to go the whole offseason with Alex getting thrown out halfway to home plate right there.”

From Tyler Kepner’s column:

“Even though there’s two outs, if he’s going to be out by a mile, I’m not just going to give them that last out,” Jirschele said, adding later, “Once they got that ball to Crawford, I saw we had no shot.”

Crawford has a strong, accurate arm, Jirschele knew, and sending Gordon would have forced him to use it. But Jirschele also knew it would not take Crawford’s best effort to end the World Series. Crawford could have thrown 10 feet wide of the plate, Jirschele guessed, and Posey would still have had time for a tag.

“To me, right there, if we have a chance to score him and I feel it’s going to take a perfect throw to get him, I’ll send him and take a chance,” Jirschele said. “I just felt that there was no chance that he was going to score.”

You can’t accuse Jirschele of not thinking things through. He didn’t make his decision because he was afraid of the potential consequences — he made it because he believed it was, mathematically, the right decision to make. Coaches don’t think in terms of breakeven points, but then we don’t think in terms of win expectancy, yet we still have a good sense. Jirschele had a sense, and it was the correct one.

Consider the evidence. This is where Gordon was when Crawford first got the ball in his glove:

crawfordgordon1

This is where Gordon was when Crawford turned to face the plate:

crawfordgordon2

This is when the stop sign went up:

gordonstopsign

Now, one thing that’s true: as the sign went up, Gordon slowed down a bit. If he were being sent, he would’ve been a little ahead of his observed position. But he still would’ve been very close to third base. Crawford was in possession of the baseball, looking home, and he had his feet set. It would’ve been a race between Gordon’s legs and Crawford’s throw, and Gordon tops out around 19-20 miles per hour. Crawford’s throws don’t.

This year’s Fan Scouting Report has wrapped up. Among shortstops, Andrelton Simmons got the highest arm-strength rating. Brandon Crawford tied for third. He also had a strongly above-average accuracy rating. Where Crawford was standing on the relay, he was quite a bit further away than he usually is, but that throw home’s still well within Crawford’s comfort zone. His throw would’ve had to be okay, but it wouldn’t have had to be perfect.

I want to give you some sense of perspective. From the regular season, here’s a screenshot of Alex Gordon trying to score on a relay:

gordonindians

Gordon’s halfway home with the player throwing. A screenshot, taken moments later:

gordonindians2

The ball still beat Gordon home. Granted, this relay came from closer than Crawford’s would’ve, but Gordon also wasn’t nearly so far along, on Wednesday. Throws are faster than runners. Intentional balls are faster than runners. Residential speed limits are faster than runners.

You want math? Here’s math. Looking over highlights, I clocked Gordon at about 3.4 seconds from third to home on a contested play. Watching various inside-the-park home runs, I got times for those runners between 3.3 – 3.7 seconds. Watching highlights of Brandon Crawford relays, I got times of 2.2 – 2.5 seconds from Crawford’s hand to the catcher’s glove. Here, for example, I get about 2.2 seconds:

Crawford was about as far away there as he was in Game 7. Because his throw was perfect, he was able to nail a runner who was halfway down the line upon release. Gordon wasn’t down the line at all. So the throw could’ve been average, or even a little worse. And I think the odds of that, or some other mistake, were low. They were real! Crawford and Buster Posey don’t make that play 100% of the time. But maybe 95%, or 90%. Maybe 85%, or 80%. The breakeven rate’s around 70-75%. All Crawford had to do was throw the ball, and all Posey had to do was catch the ball, and they’ve thrown the ball and caught the ball before.

Perhaps things would’ve been different if Gordon had achieved his top speed sooner. Perhaps things would’ve been different if Gordon didn’t stumble ever so slightly coming around second base. But everything could’ve been different if it were different. Mike Jirschele could’ve waved Alex Gordon around. Definitely, it would’ve changed the box score. Probably, it wouldn’t have changed the result. The Royals almost didn’t lose, which means that they lost, and it wasn’t Mike Jirschele who caused it.



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


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Josh
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Josh
1 year 7 months ago

This is fantastic stuff. Just clear as day. Thanks Jeff

(the other) Walter
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(the other) Walter
1 year 7 months ago

Absolutely clear — and I’d been thinking all morning “what if he’d tried to send him?” – I knew Fangraphs would have a good review of the play.
The one thing missing – and it’s strictly secondary since with what DID happen, no way Gordon makes it – is “how much time did Gordon lose in his running, getting to 3rd – the stumble at 2nd, and, was he going full speed? He didn’t LOOK it, but maybe he’s just really smooth – did anyone clock how long it took him to get to 2nd, then 3rd, this time vs other times/other runners?

jason
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jason
1 year 7 months ago
(the other) Walter
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(the other) Walter
1 year 7 months ago

I’ll buy that it would have been exciting as hell if he’d tried — but I find the article here far more convincing than that one — the stillshots showing exactly where Gordon was when Crawford got the ball especially. I just don’t see him having had even a 10% chance of making it at that point…*maybe* if he hadn’t stumbled earlier, and maybe if he’d gotten to third faster overall…but not at that point…if he’d been thrown out at the plate, he’d have been crucified worse than Grady Little for leaving Pedro in too long. I still WOULD love to see a clocking of his time running to third, vs his (or someone else fast’s) best time to third, to see how much time he lost getting there…has someone done that yet?

JRM
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JRM
1 year 7 months ago

Watching the play, I was sure Gordon would be sent, but then I saw he was about five steps short of where I expected him to be.

I wanted him to be sent, because drama.

I think Jeff’s analysis is stronger on every axis than Nate Silver’s (and Nate’s body of work is tremendous). The numbers come out roughly the same, but Jeff discusses it a little better to my eyes; more importantly, he uses the actual locations of the interested parties compellingly.

In the end, we still end with an estimate… but I think it was right for Gordon to stop. Too bad it went this way, but it went this way.

Now, as to Salvador’s decision to swing at the first pitch…

Andy
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Andy
1 year 7 months ago

Jeff really doesn’t disagree with Nate’s numbers at all. Jeff just thinks that Gordon’s chances of scoring were much lower than the 30% Nate estimated would make sending him worth it. Nate himself admits he doesn’t know what the chances of scoring were, whereas Jeff makes I think a pretty good case that they were significantly lower than 30%.

pitnick
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pitnick
1 year 7 months ago

That whole article is predicated on the idea that “he only needed to have a 30% chance of success” and I think Jeff’s work here shows pretty conclusively that his odds weren’t that good.

ChadT
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ChadT
1 year 6 months ago

Nate is good with elections, bad with sports.

Mike
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Mike
1 year 6 months ago

Nate’s bad with sports? What about that whole thing where he created PECOTA?

Richie
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Richie
1 year 7 months ago

Yes, just click the link in the last paragraph.

Bill
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Bill
1 year 7 months ago

I read Silver’s post first and I’m a big fan of Silver’s but, congrats Jeff, your analysis is better.

Silver: SuccessRate > .3
Sullivan: SuccessRate .3 Then SendRunner
Else
HoldRunner

Jeff has far more evidence supporting his opinion than does Silver, so I think I’ll agree with him.

stan
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stan
1 year 7 months ago

The replay from the center field camera showed that Posey took several steps out toward the mound when the ball was hit- anticipating a celebration. I wonder if he was back in position to field the ball by the time Gordon got to third and Crawford had the ball. Even if he was back in position, it would have probably complicated the play a bit more.

Evan
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Evan
1 year 7 months ago

You can see where Posey is in the statcast image and he is at home plate and it would have made no difference

Vic Romano
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Vic Romano
1 year 7 months ago

You don’t need to wonder. Just look at the series of pictures in the article, specifically the Statcast one, with the red streak showing Gordon’s path around the bases. You can see Posey standing right at the plate and Bumgarner backing up behind him.

Nothing complicated about it.

Brian
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1 year 7 months ago

Posey is in perfect position at home plate when Gordon is midway between 2nd and 3rd, so I don’t think it complicates the play.

The only real hope for Gordon there – if he goes – is that Crawford uncharacteristically throws it 15 feet wide of home or spikes it into the ground or something. The odds of that strike me as less than the odds that Perez (or some subsequent batter) drives him home + the odds of a wild pitch, passed ball, error, etc. (Of course if someone had time we could crunch those numbers too, but that’s my guess.)

B N
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B N
1 year 6 months ago

Only if Perez doesn’t swing at every pitch thrown at eye-level.

snack man
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snack man
1 year 7 months ago

yeah, I wanted that to bite Posey in the ass really badly but it didn’t

Alex
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Alex
1 year 7 months ago

Gordon had a better chance of scoring than Perez had at doing anything in his AB.

BRH
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BRH
1 year 7 months ago

That is ridiculous even if you are trying to be facetious. Bumgarner kept throwing high fastballs to Perez, and he kept hitting his spots. You clearly have no idea how difficult that is to do – even if it’s May and Bumgarner is pitching in the first inning on 5 days of rest to the Arizona Diamondbacks, let alone Bottom of the Ninth and Game 7 of the World Series and an entire season of pitches in Bumgarner’s arm. If Bumgarner’s release on his fastball is off by a milimeter or two, the pitch comes in belt high instead of letter high, and Perez might be in Bill Mazeroski’s company.

There was no way to justify sending Gordon home on that play. The Royals had to be absolutely tickled that Blanco gave them that gift.

Zen Madman
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1 year 7 months ago

Or if his release point is off the other way, the pitch sails over Posey’s head and it’s a tie game without Perez even needing to do anything.

Brian
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Brian
1 year 7 months ago

Thank you for this!

I was thinking about this on my way to bed right after the game. I figured his chance of scoring on that play were roughly the same as your findings. Regardless, as a fan with no team in this game, I wanted to see that play at the plate. Even if he was thrown out I would not have blamed Jirschele for sending him. It would have made for a much more entertaining finish than a weak foul pop fly.

Brian
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1 year 7 months ago

Agree. The baseball gods really screwed this one up. Instead of the most exciting play in the history of baseball – a play at the plate to tie Game 7 in the bottom of the 9th! – we got the least exciting play in baseball (an easy foul out). Why couldn’t Perez have kicked the ball a couple more feet? Why, baseball gods?

Avattoir
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Avattoir
1 year 7 months ago

Cripes, the BGs were already working double shift overtime allhandsondeck just to get him to boot it as far as he did. You’re sure asking a lot of the BGs, arguably mor’n Rick Perry asked of Rain God.

Matthew
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Matthew
1 year 7 months ago

Exactly! It took two both Blanco and Perez completely botching that single in order for Gordon to make it to third! The game came down to a runner 90 feet from tying with Perez (the only batter to get a run on Bumgarner in a World Series) at bat. I’d call that pretty thrilling! Be happy, if Blanco doesn’t over pursue that ball it would have been two outs with a runner on first.

As for sending him home, I can see argument that Gordon may have made it had he ran full speed off the bat. However, Gordon had no idea that the Giants would botch the single that badly, so he ran to first watching the ball. At the speed he was running, he would have been out by a mile had he gone home.

Andy
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Andy
1 year 7 months ago

Actually, it seems that Perez’ flub was not a factor. Gordon was already rounding second when Perez first reached the ball, so even if he had picked it up immediately and thrown it in, Gordon was going to wind up on third.

Hurtlockertwo
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Hurtlockertwo
1 year 7 months ago

Watching it live it seemed surprising that Gordon was not even at third when Crawford got the ball. I’m not that familiar with Gordon, but he looks like he has average speed at best.

Hurtlockertwo
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Hurtlockertwo
1 year 7 months ago

The coach made the right decision in he context of the game. Gordon gets gunned down by plenty and the fans want him fired. Didn’t Babe Ruth get thrown out stealing to end a world series??

Andy
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Andy
1 year 7 months ago

Ruth made the right move. The odds of his stealing successfully and getting into scoring position were surely better than the odds of the batter following him getting an extra base hit, or the two batters following him getting singles.

Jeff Caveney
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Jeff Caveney
1 year 7 months ago

I was going to say the batter following him was Lou Gehrig, but I looked it up and it was Bob Meusel. Why the heck was Miller Huggins batting Meusel 4th and Gehrig 5th?!

maguro
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maguro
1 year 6 months ago

Righty-Lefty?

highrent
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highrent
1 year 6 months ago

You do realize that while Bob Muesel is not Lou Gehrig he was a pretty decent hitter that year 120 OPS+. Gehrig should have been batting behind him but Muesel was no slouch. He had an obp of .370 and a Slugging of .470. Ruth stole a lot more bases then people think and he was a decent runner but he got gunned down a lot and he was gunned down 9 times out of 19 attempts. I don’t think he should have tried to steal it.

john sain
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john sain
1 year 6 months ago

Gordon is easily faster than average.

Andrew
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Andrew
1 year 7 months ago
Eric
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Eric
1 year 7 months ago

Not really.

“I’m sure there will be Zapruder-film-type breakdowns, and I’ll look forward to seeing them.” – several years ago, I think Nate Silver would’ve been appropriately scornful of someone who just had to get his opinion out there before bothering to analyze. Now he’s that guy.

Brian
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1 year 7 months ago

Agree. Silver does offer a counterpoint (or pre-point), but it’s a lazy one. Most of what he speculates about in the article is answerable by doing the type of legwork that Jeff actually did.

Andrew
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Andrew
1 year 7 months ago

I agree, breaking down times from 3rd to home and throw to home is a much more robust argument.

Dan
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Dan
1 year 7 months ago

I read that article this morning, and I have to admit that I was on board at the time. However, that video of Crawford nailing Nieves at the plate on the relay (when he was halfway down the line) is particularly damning. Either way, I think the third base coach made a good judgement call here.

Avattoir
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Avattoir
1 year 7 months ago

“Now he’s that guy.”

Well put; and on a number of fronts. E.g. his phony baloney contretemps with Professor Sam Wong over polling results and secret sauce.

Bill
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Bill
1 year 7 months ago

Meh – He’s covering next weeks election with his usual proficiency. I love baseball, but elections are more important than dudes playing games in their pajamas, so I’ll give him a pass for being a bit lazy.

Derek Bell
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Derek Bell
1 year 6 months ago

Playing games in their pajamas? Did someone call me?

Doc Ellis
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Doc Ellis
1 year 6 months ago

I have to pitch today?

Rico Brogna
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Rico Brogna
1 year 7 months ago

The 538 piece argues that if Gordon had a 30% chance to score, then he should have tried. I think there’s a fair bit of evidence presented here to suggest his chances of scoring to be well below 30%.

Avattoir
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Avattoir
1 year 7 months ago

Posting that sort of bullcrap promises Silver page views, and lack of page views are what his backers are all over him about.

Brian
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Brian
1 year 7 months ago

Looking over all the evidence and video, I think Usain Bolt had a chance to score, but that’s about it…

Stinky Pete
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Stinky Pete
1 year 6 months ago

Or maybe if he had a baton to pass to Lorenzo Cain at first base, with Jarrod Dyson and Terrance Gore waiting for hand-offs at second and third.

Joshua
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Joshua
1 year 7 months ago

Silver just linked to *this* article as the best case he’s seen not to send him home.

Andrew
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Andrew
1 year 7 months ago

I posted alot a very similar, paired down argument as jeff did here in the comments section of that 538 article (I did it first though! lol)

There is no way that Gordon’s success rate was even remotely close to the 30% Silver said was necessary. Simply figuring out roughly how fast Gordon runs (18.7 mph according to statcast) and how far Crawford was from home (about 180 feet based on measurements taken from that video) is all you really need to know to realize that Gordon likely gets thrown out by 50 feet 95% of the time.

Yinka Double Dare
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Yinka Double Dare
1 year 7 months ago

The best chance on that play would have been one of those idiotic enforcements of the Posey Rule for blocking the plate even though the runner is still well away from the plate and was going to be out by a mile. Much as it would have been fun to see him sent, when your best hope is a silly enforcement of a rule, you’ve probably made the right decision.

Bonzi
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Bonzi
1 year 7 months ago

Having a game 7 end/continue on a long replay followed by a questionable interpretation of that rule is about the worst thing I can imagine.

snack man
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snack man
1 year 7 months ago

I think the fact that the Posey Rule had been used in that situation against Posey would have made up for it.

Avattoir
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Avattoir
1 year 7 months ago

See, I just don’t get the sadism in this sort of thinking, and especially how widespread it appears to be. The Posey Rule came in because his leg was shattered in a play that every catcher was directed to make that way, even as every base runner had the option of destroying the particular catcher’s career. MLB already had the terrible example of what Pete Rose did to Ray Fosse, who was a terrific all-around player before and never recovered his offense after, and what they saw happen with Posey was all that and worse. There were HOWLS over that play, and MLB tried to respond appropriately – not FOR Posey, because if Posey may not even have come back from that horrible multiple fracture, and if he did under the same rules regime, would likely have been positioned elsewhere. It was for EVERY catcher, and indeed every baserunner, and also, maybe most of all, in MLB’s own interests.

But somehow, there’s a bunch of morons who figure Posey, a 2nd year player, wielded some magical influence over all of baseball to ‘destroy’ it, but watering down its ‘purity’.

If it had turned out in the way you fantasize about, that wouldn’t have some poetic justice or humorous irony: it would have been completely stupid.

Raff
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Raff
1 year 6 months ago

@ Avattoir: Rose didn’t ruin Fosse’s career: that’s a tired old trope that’s demonstrably false and not worthy of inclusion on Fangraphs. Fosse didn’t go on the DL, made the All-Star Game again THE NEXT YEAR, and only then saw a dip in his performance in 1972 and 1973. His career was really over when Reggie Jackson started a clubhouse fight in 1974 that Fosse tried to break up — only to break his neck in the process.

Rick Lancellotti
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Rick Lancellotti
1 year 7 months ago

This exact point was mentioned by Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller on today’s Effectively Wild podcast (#567) at Baseball Prospectus, which also mentioned Jeff’s forthcoming article above and discusses the play in question for like 10 minutes or so.

vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
1 year 7 months ago

I just posted this in the other thread, but it’s more appropriate here:

When a runner is coming towards 3B, the coach puts his hands up to tell him to stop at 3rd, or he wheels his arm in a circle to tell him to run home. Is there a sign for “round the bag to draw a throw home, but then stop after the ball’s in the air?”. It seems like that’s the perfect time for it. If he rounds third base and the relay throw gets by Posey, the game is tied. If the relay throw is halfway decent, you run back to third. Given the enormous pressure at that moment – and that two outfielders had already made mistake over the last 20 seconds – I think it would have been worthwhile to at least get a throw home and hope it shorthops Posey.

Looking at the pictures above, it looks like they gave the Stop sign before Crawford caught the ball. That’s another reason for there to be a third sign. What if Crawford bobbles the ball?

Hurtlockertwo
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Hurtlockertwo
1 year 7 months ago

This was tie the game or lose the game. If the game is tied and this is the winning run, send him. Worst case is he’s thrown out and the game goes to extra innings.

MGL
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MGL
1 year 7 months ago

The break even point is actually around the same whether the game is tied or KC is down a run. This is a math question not a “word” one.

Brian
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1 year 7 months ago

The problem with the “draw a throw home” sign is that Crawford would then be in position to pick him off third.

vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
1 year 7 months ago

Yeah, that’s the one downside I was thinking of. I think it would be ballsy for Crawford to throw to third. His back was to the infield, and if he caught the throw, turned around and saw Gordon running, his instinct would be to throw home. Imagine he threw to third instead, and Gordon kept running and scored the tying run?

I’ve seen players get caught off of third though, so that would be the main hesitation that I can think of.

Avattoir
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Avattoir
1 year 7 months ago

“What if Crawford bobbles the ball?”

Answer: Perspicacity.

You don’t ALLOW for that, but instead operate on the assumption that the starting shortstop of team that’s in the WS and recently won another will catch a simple relay throw, for the same reason that human conversation takes place at an efficient rate, and that we can drive cars, hit a golf ball, and play pattycake with our kids.

Human neurology doesn’t allow for a sufficient CONSCIOUS response time to allow for what you envision. To do what you envision would take the thing to happen, to then be perceived by the 3B coach, weighed in the balance, then a message sent thru his brain to his frontal lobe, while successfully fighting off the drunken demons and party animals occupying his amygdala, get the message out of his mouth and into Gordon’s ears, where Gordon would either go, Wha…? or OBEY, then hit his gear box and head home. For a REPEATEDLY TRAINED response, one of those mythical minimum-10,000-repetition things, like hitting a golf ball with a long driver or a 2 iron, all that’s done in fractions; but as soon as we discard practice and introduce human perception, judgment, calculation and communication, it’s like multiple questions and the outcome’s usually BAAAAAAADDD.

KK-Swizzle
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KK-Swizzle
1 year 7 months ago

This is an important concept, and (if anybody cares) exactly what it feels like to be an umpire as well…you simply can’t process all of the information necessary to understand the effects of one call or another. You see and respond…nothing more. The human element is inescapable.

This is my best guess as to why home-field advantage exists. Both the players and officials involved in a given contest have subtle, subconscious reactions to the presence of a large crowd that, to some extent, affect their behavior.

In other words, the home team does have an edge (~5% in most sports), but the backdrop to a sporting event isn’t as big of a factor as most people seem to think!

vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
1 year 7 months ago

I’m not saying they should fake to home simply because there’s a chance he bobbles it. I’m saying that it’s *another* benefit to the fake to home. Over the course of a season, it’s certainly not uncommon for a SS or 2B to bobble the relay throw – especially when it’s thrown from the warning track. It’s also possible that he makes a short-hop throw to the plate. A throw from the warning track to home plate shouldn’t be taken for granted, any more than Gordon should take for granted that the CF for a WS team will get in front of a low line drive and not let it get past him.

When people are on third with a short fly ball, they almost always take a few steps towards home to draw a throw. What I’m saying is, maybe they should try it on relay throws too.

Avattoir
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Avattoir
1 year 7 months ago

Fails to account for Crawford, who’s one hell of a clever SS, not going for the fake but instead throwing to Sandoval on 3B BEHIND Gordon. Then, a rundown, where, in the absence of the runner being Jackie Robinson or Ricky Henderson, the conclusion’s almost surely foregone. And in this case, that rundown would involve two players who’ve played together for 6 years in Posey and Bumgarner, 3 players who’ve played together for 5 years when you add Sandoval, and all 4 players who’ve played together for 4 years when you add Crawford. Gordon would be toast.

Jimbo
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Jimbo
1 year 7 months ago

The closet thing to a sign to keep running but not to necessarily continue home is if the 3rd base coach holds both hands in front of him with palms up and waves his fingers toward himself as if he was motioning someone to “come here”. That is a sign that the coach wants the runner to run hard but he has not decided whether to send him or not, and I do not know if the Royals or any other team uses that.

But Gordon would not have seen that sign because he was looking back into the outfield as he ran between 2nd and 3rd.

Poor Man's Rick Reed
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Poor Man's Rick Reed
1 year 7 months ago

In my (non-professional) experience, a 3rd base coach’s normal, two handed stop sign means round the bag and find the ball. If he wants him to stop on the bag, it’s one hand up for the stop sign with the other hand pointing to the base.

Vic Romano
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Vic Romano
1 year 7 months ago

I don’t second-guess the decision to hold Gordon at 3rd.

I do second-guess the decision not to put Gore in as a pinch runner, and after seeing Perez looking just awful at the plate, sending him home to try to steal a run.

Tom
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Tom
1 year 7 months ago

That would have been one of the coolest moments in MLB history. However, if Gore got thrown out trying steal home to end the World Series, there is a decent chance Yost would get canned.

Vic Romano
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Vic Romano
1 year 7 months ago

Yost should catch more heat for leaving Guthrie in too long….but that’s veering into another area of discussion.

BRH
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BRH
1 year 7 months ago

You must be kidding. Bumgarner pitched from the stretch. If Yost brings in Gore, don’t you think the Giants would be on alert for the possibility of a steal of home? It’s virtually impossible to steal home with a pitcher pitching from the stretch, especially when the opposing team is prepared for it. Jacoby Ellsbury in his prime barely stole home off of Andy Pettitte going from a full windup. Besides, all Bumgarner has to do to thwart it is drill Perez and Gore has to return to third base.

And if Gore somehow defies all probability and steals home successfully, it’s a tie game with no runners on base and two outs. So congratulations, you’ve just replaced your best all around player for a guy who hits worse than some of the pitchers on your team, for a game that’s almost certainly going to extra innings. And by the way, your manager has used up all of his best relievers, while the Giants best relievers are still in the bullpen. Great strategy.

ben.thompson521
Member
ben.thompson521
1 year 7 months ago

consider the possibility of Gore dancing around off third like Willie Mays Hayes, trying just to distract Bumgarner. Maybe he loses control of one pitch, a passed ball, a floater, who knows.

I would have subbed in Gore as a pinch-runner, but no way I’m sending him home to steal. He’s there to distract Bumgarner in anyway he can.

BK16
Guest
BK16
1 year 7 months ago

Definitely an interesting idea, especially given the fact that in the NLCS Bumgarner got away with what should have been a run-scoring balk. I wonder if Gore could’ve messed with his head. A long shot, but maybe worth it.

Vic Romano
Guest
Vic Romano
1 year 7 months ago

@BRH — Of course. The Royals were so much better off letting Perez swing through face-high fastballs on the hope that he could put on in play.

francis
Guest
francis
1 year 7 months ago

I was also hoping to see Gore pinch run. Regardless of whether or not he steals, he could at least give Bum & Posey something to think about by taking an aggressive lead.

I thought the Royals should have given Dyson & Gore one shot to steal a run with speed. The just sit there and try to hit MB after not doing it for 18 innings wasn’t working. Plus, recall MB’s only postseason loss was the result of a misplayed bunt.

Bill
Guest
Bill
1 year 7 months ago

Yes! This would have been awesome. Gore’s a cousin to Jay Garrick but stealing home when everyone’s expecting it seems all but impossible. It would be a feat worthy of song.

mikecws91
Guest
mikecws91
1 year 6 months ago

Then why not just pinch-hit for Perez?

Nick
Guest
Nick
1 year 7 months ago

I disagree with people saying he would’ve been out by 15 feet.

He would’ve been out by 75 feet.

Hurtlockertwo
Guest
Hurtlockertwo
1 year 7 months ago

I agree, the ball would have been there so soon he could have stopped and got into a run down.

Brian
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

This guy (Twitter handle ImaCopYouIdiot9) claims it would be more like 50 feet, but same point:

AB
Guest
AB
1 year 7 months ago

Two things wrong with that. Jeff claims it would have taken Crawford 2.2 to 2.5 seconds, not 1.6. And if Gordon was being waved home at full speed he would have been 10 to 15 feet passed 3rd base. So, it would have been more like 25 to 30 feet out. Crawford has never thrown a wet ball with 2 out in game 7 of the world series. Who knows how good the throw would have been.

Mike Green
Guest
Mike Green
1 year 7 months ago

I have watched the replay quite a few times. I don’t find fault at all with the decision of the third base coach.

Gordon did not sprint out of the box, and then seemed to run out of steam at about second base. He then looked back over his shoulder instead of watching the third base coach about half-way between second and third base. He is normally a fine baserunner, but I think the sequence of Giant fumbles caught him by surprise and he wasn’t well-positioned to take full advantage.

Brian
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

1.6 mph – the difference between Gordon nearing second at 18.7mph and Gordon at his supposed top speed of 20.3mph – is only 2.3 extra feet per second, still not enough to get him home.

Lots of variables at play here, but let’s say Gordon averaged 16mph going into third – 4.3 mph from his top speed (which probably isn’t right for a few reasons, esp since you can’t be running at top speed as you pivot to round the bases, but just for the sake of argument…). Even then that only gets him 6.3 feet closer to home plate. Considering Crawford had the ball as Gordon was pulling into third, I still think he’s out by a mile even if Gordon is running optimally.

GreenMountainBoy
Guest
GreenMountainBoy
1 year 7 months ago

I get the numbers, I get the probabilities, I get everything else associated with the argument. What I also get is that the Giants went from feeling very confident with 2 outs and nobody on to being in panic mode with a single and an error already having taken place, and the very real possibility that Gordon might try to tie the score.

With zero or one out, I hold him. In a mid-season game, I hold him. But in this situation, with 2 outs, Bumgarner on the mound, and down a run in Game 7 of the World Series, I absolutely send him. Why? Because of all the factors I mentioned. It’s a chance to stay alive in the World Series, not a great one, but a chance nevertheless. Is the throw going to beat him? Probably. Given the moment, might Crawford’s throw be off-line or short-hop Posey? Yep. That’s reason enough for me. Nobody would have criticized the decision to send him if he were thrown out. NOBODY.

Going by this logic, I guess the Red Sox shouldn’t have had Dave Roberts stealing off Rivera in 2004. And they’d never have reached and won the Series. I guess Enos Slaughter shouldn’t have tried to score from first on a double in 1946. And the Cards may not have won that Series.

There are times in baseball where you throw the numbers out the window, and this was one of them. It’s heart vs heart, will to win vs will to win. Very simply, in these situations, you make the defense make a play. If they don’t, the reward is huge. If they do, you tip your cap to them. But you can’t be afraid to lose!!!

The shame is, unlike the other situations mentioned above, we’ll never know what Crawford, Gordon, and Posey would have done, because Jirschele was afraid of failure. Ironic he ended up the goat anyway.

Brian
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

“I absolutely send him. Why?… It’s a chance to stay alive in the World Series, not a great one, but a chance nevertheless.”

That exact same argument applies to NOT sending him. After all, Salvador Perez at the plate – you know, the guy who had the platoon advantage and homered off Bumgarner earlier in the series – offers them a chance to stay alive in the World Series, not a great one, but a chance nevertheless.

As for the historical comps, Dave Roberts’ steal attempt had a MUCH higher chance of succeeding. As did Slaughter’s mad dash (from what I can tell by the footage) – and besides, that was a tie game, which argued for riskier behavior. While I agree that you can’t be afraid to lose, I think sending Gordon would’ve been the much more desperate, fearful move.

The Humber Games
Guest
The Humber Games
1 year 7 months ago

“It’s heart vs heart, will to win vs will to win”

Did you get this off of a movie poster??

Listen, you can’t ask that they do something with a significant chance of failure, and then say “Whelp, they didn’t have the will to win”. Barring the (very) rare professional athlete who doesn’t give a crap about winning, it’s not about heart but very much about execution and good decision making. I definitely agree the ‘what if’ would’ve been a lot more fun than ending on a pop foul to Sandoval, but it also would’ve been dumb. And dumb is dumb, even if god occasionally loves idiots.

Frank Stallone
Guest
Frank Stallone
1 year 7 months ago

I think I sang that in a movie soundtrack once. Maybe twice.

francis
Guest
francis
1 year 7 months ago

Every NFL analyst resorts to the “it’s gonna come down to who wants it more” routine. Football is fun to watch, but listening to people talk about it is awful.

Robby
Guest
Robby
1 year 7 months ago

who says the Giants went into panic mode? Certainly not the P, C, and 3B who were the only ones to touch the ball after that play.

bmarkham
Guest
bmarkham
1 year 7 months ago

” I absolutely send him. Why? Because of all the factors I mentioned.”
None of the things you mentioned actually increases the chances he scores.

” Given the moment, might Crawford’s throw be off-line or short-hop Posey? Yep. That’s reason enough for me.”

The analysis shows that throw could have been off-line or short-hop Posey, and he still would have been out by a mile. As the third base coach said, if it would have taken a perfect throw he would have sent him.

Jeez, I feel like some people just skip reading the article and just go straight to the comments.

Cool
Guest
Cool
1 year 7 months ago

Nobody would have criticized him? Are you kidding? It’d be the top story in baseball. The criticism would be endless, because he was going to be out by a mile.

Brian
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

And then he goes on to say that the irony was that Jirschele ended up the goat anyway. NO ONE this morning is saying he’s a goat or even, if you squint your eyes, something rather goat-like. But if he sends him and Gordon gets pegged by a country mile? Oh my god, he’d be Grady Little, Scott Norwood, and Bill Buckner rolled into one.

Sean Tuxill
Guest
Sean Tuxill
1 year 7 months ago

As a Sox fan, I’m not pleased that you’re tainting our history of heartbreak with Buffalo’s stench. But you’re not wrong – and Gordon would be a goat as well for not busting it out of the box (not that it would’ve mattered, he’d have just been thrown out by three steps instead of five)

Avattoir
Guest
Avattoir
1 year 7 months ago

‘As you Emperor, and reliable personal communicator with the Gods of Destiny and War, I hereby command each and every one you to get into those one one-way coffin planes and steer it directly into a crash with a ship under the command of those foreign devils. Thanks for coming, and good luck.’

KK-Swizzle
Guest
KK-Swizzle
1 year 7 months ago

Cool story, bro.

(P.S…You don’t get the numbers…or the probabilities)

GreenMountainBoy
Guest
GreenMountainBoy
1 year 6 months ago

I stand by my original comments. Sometimes you have to MAKE THE OTHER TEAM MAKE A PLAY WHEN IT COUNTS! This was one of those times. Bumgarner was on a roll, an you were just gifted 2 extra bases. MAKE THE OTHER TEAM PROVE THEY CAN MAKE A PLAY WHEN IT COUNTS!

As I said, I GET the numbers and I GET the probabilities. I’m fine with them over the long haul, and over the long haul all of you are going to be right. No argument here. But THIS time, under THESE circumstances, you send him and take what comes.

At any level, especially the MLB level, the difference between the best and just average is that the best are willing to take a chance, at the proper time, that flies in the face of sabermetrics.

I don’t see anyone here arguing that Gordon had ZERO chance of scoring. All I’m saying is his chance of scoring was better then that Perez’s chance of getting a hit off Bumgarner in that moment. It’s just my opinion. You don’t feel the same? Great. You’re entitled.

Catoblepas
Guest
Catoblepas
1 year 6 months ago

They had already made the play! The play was getting the ball to Crawford in a reasonable period of time. And feeling that Gordon’s chance of scoring > Perez’s chance of getting a hit isn’t an opinion in the sense you’re using it, which is nonsense spouted with no objective analysis behind it. It’s an informed opinion, which you would know had you read the article you’re commenting on.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
1 year 6 months ago

So, essentially, Gordon’s roughly 10-15% chance of scoring was better than Perez’s 25-30% chance of reaching base? Hmmm. Interesting take.

bad fundamentals
Guest
bad fundamentals
1 year 7 months ago

Its irrelevant whether the 3rd base coach was going to send Gordon anyway. Gordon was looking into the outfield all the way between 2nd and 3rd. I hate that today’s major leaguers do that so often. Its slows them down and prevents the 3rd base coach (who’s in a better position anyway) from doing his job.

ben.thompson521
Member
ben.thompson521
1 year 7 months ago

likewise, when you watch the double play earlier in the game, Hosmer is watching the play 80% of the way down the line to first. If he’s digging hard to first just to make it onbase, He likely beats that play.

The Humber Games
Guest
The Humber Games
1 year 7 months ago

Or if Hosmer doesn’t catch Nick Punto syndrome and instead decides to run through the bag like he should’ve…

Sean Tuxill
Guest
Sean Tuxill
1 year 7 months ago

He also rounded out of the box, didn’t he? That ball looked for all the world like it was getting through off the bat.

Avattoir
Guest
Avattoir
1 year 7 months ago

How dyou figure THAT? One of the big narratives of this WS was how Blanco in particular played OF pretty much as well as any KC OFer, and by Game 7 he’d already made one highlight reel rundown and a bushel of top notch catches. Gordon couldn’t even rationally count on the ball getting DOWN fast enough before Blanco would catch it.

Richie
Guest
Richie
1 year 7 months ago

Yeah, professional baseball players just flat-out ‘run’ awful. Can’t take their eyes off the stupid ball even after they’re well through their followthrough, and they’ve dropped the bat and are 3-4 strides on their way already. Just terrible technique.

Jimbo
Guest
Jimbo
1 year 7 months ago

Another comment about the fundamentals of that play is that Crawford should have taken one or two steps toward that throw to catch it on the fly rather than take a chance on the short hop. He had plenty of time to read that as a short throw, take a step or two toward it, and set up to relay.

ltbailey
Member
ltbailey
1 year 7 months ago

When do you send a guy home just hoping you can pull a rule 7.13 (especially given you can have it reviewed)? I agree he was probably too far from home, but I think this rule means you get a little more risky in general with sending them home. Similar to NFL where teams throw deep just hoping for a flag

ben.thompson521
Member
ben.thompson521
1 year 7 months ago

Excellent piece Jeff. I agreed with Jirschele’s call last night as well even though I wanted to see Gordon try.
My next immediate thought when the play was over though, pinch run Gore or Dyson for Gordon.
The reason is simple, if the runner doesn’t score, it’s over and whomever is standing on third is irrelevant.
If the runner scores, you still have a strong defensive player in Left Field, albeit out of position if it’s Gore/Dyson.
However, Perez bats right and Bumgarner throws left. Imagine if you will Dyson or Gore dancing off third base pulling Bumgarner’s attention away from Perez and the pitches he needs to make. Perez is in the way of Posey to make a gundown throw back to third.
Maybe it makes no difference. Maybe it causes Bumgarner to hang one. We’ll obviously never know, but as an armchair manager, that’s the call I make to put any additional pressure on Bumgarner I can.

Avattoir
Guest
Avattoir
1 year 7 months ago

Suppose it’s always possible Panda parks his not insubstantial body over 3B and he and Bumgarner play a little game of catch-the-Royal-off-base.

Nah, you’re right: too unprecedented. Never would happened.

Mack
Guest
Mack
1 year 7 months ago

I know this isn’t something any team does, but it might be an idea worth entertaining.

Say a batting team has a runner on third and at most one out, and the batter hits a high fly to the outfield. If the first baseman is a pretty good defender, why not send the first baseman down the line to cover home? There’s a much higher likelihood that a play will have to be made at the plate than at first, and it would intuitively seem easier for a first baseman to receive a given throw from the outfield than for the catcher to do the same – the first baseman has a more flexible glove and is likely more mobile since he’s not wearing catcher’s gear. Now that home plate collisions don’t happen anymore, the player covering the plate doesn’t need protective equipment.

The same could apply in the case of a bases-empty ball into the gap that will go for at least two bases, like Gordon’s hit last night. As soon as the ball got past Blanco, there was no way a play would need to be made at first, and Belt would have had ample time to get to the plate in case Gordon ran for home. With no fear of a collision at the plate, Belt might have been more able to field a potential throw from Crawford and apply the tag (had the Giants practiced such a scenario).

celtic1888
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

First baseman moves to the center of the infield to cut a throw, pitcher comes into to back up catcher.

Even with no other runners in play the infielders will follow the same pattern

Brian
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

I like the thought experiment, but I think the benefits of having the 1Bman covering home would be outweighed by the years of practice catchers have taking throws from that depth, applying the tag, adjusting to various hops, slides, etc. As you point out, you could have the 1Bman practice such a scenario (and some of those catcher skills they already have in their routines as 1Bmen), but the benefits still don’t seem strong enough to justify the practice time.

Garrett
Guest
Garrett
1 year 7 months ago

My bigger fear would be a runner plowing into my 1st baseman who is completely unprotected. Sure the runner would most likely be ruled out but trading that one out for a moderately high risk to my 1st baseman doesn’t make much sense.

Slider
Guest
Slider
1 year 7 months ago

As someone who has spent a fair amount of time actually playing first base, I can give you the reason why you’ll never see a 1B covering home in your scenarios.

With a runner on 3B(R3) and a fly ball deep to RF or CF, the 1B takes a position in back of the mound as the cut off guy. Catcher tells you to cut it off if throw is off line, or if R3 is going to score and you have a shot to nail the batter trying for 2B.

Fly ball deep to LF, the 3B will usually be the cut off. If ball takes SS & 2B deep into OF as relay guys, 1B trails runner to 2B. 1B can then be the back end of a rundown between 2B-3B if batter is over aggressive in his lead to 3B.

KDL
Guest
KDL
1 year 7 months ago

This is very circular.

All you’ve said in response to “Let’s try something new” is “But that’s not how we do it now.”

I’m sure the OP knows what usually happens. S/he is positing a new way of doing things. If you have reasons why it wouldn’t work, or might be a bad idea, let’s hear them. Brian’s response is a great example of pointing out weaknesses in the proposed new idea without resorting to “but that’s not how we do it now”.

iron
Guest
iron
1 year 6 months ago

The original poster contended there is a higher chance of a play at the plate than first. This post accurately described all the other things a first baseman is doing other than pointlessly covering first on such a play.

Sean Tuxill
Guest
Sean Tuxill
1 year 7 months ago

One of the main reasons I wouldn’t want to do it? Left-handedness. Think about the mechanics of taking the ball on the backhand when a righty first baseman is applying the tag and having to get it down without losing the ball…now shorthop him and have a runner bearing down at full chat rather than just diving back to the bag. A righty can set up inside the baseline, gather the ball and turn with the throw while pulling his second hand in. A lefty has to twist away and then come back, or risks being in a position to get lit up because of how he’d have to set up to take the throw – more of his body would be in the basepath.

Rico Brogna
Guest
Rico Brogna
1 year 7 months ago

So, if Perez gets a hit (or Gordon scores in some other way) would there be any argument that he should have tried to score on the previous play? The “should have sent him” argument stinks of hindsight bias.

Bill
Guest
Bill
1 year 7 months ago

No, I disagree. If the chance of success was greater than 30%, Gordon should have been sent regardless of the result of Perez’s at bat. Good Results do not justify bad process. Meaning, the debate is still worthwhile.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
1 year 6 months ago

What Bill said is correct. it’s a worthwhile debate, but also one that can be ended rather quickly and easily, as Jeff did in the article.

celtic1888
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

Off the Statcast breakdown of the Panik – Crawford double play, Crawford threw the ball at 77 MPH while standing flat footed and off-balance.

He definitely is in a better position here to throw although it is a longer throw

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 7 months ago

Great point. Watching the replay of that DP today I came away most impressed with Crawford’s relay. Ozzie, Andrelton, and maybe a couple of others could have pulled that throw off with enough zip to get the guy at first.

Joe Banks
Guest
Joe Banks
1 year 7 months ago

One thing no one has mentioned. The ball from Lopez bounced to Crawford which means he would have been throwing flat-footed. Now we’ve seen him make a double play earlier in the game flat-footed but that was 90 feet. This was about 120ft, which means the ball probably would have bounced. Also Gordon slowed up pretty quickly once he saw that stop sign. If he didn’t he would have been 1/3 of the way past the bag when Crawford was in throwing position. With a bounce it would have been a close play that a close play would have been worth sending him.

ElJimador40
Guest
ElJimador40
1 year 7 months ago

Look again at the picture above that shows Crawford’s body position as he turns toward the plate with the ball. He appears to be in perfect throwing position there, not flat footed at all.

Given the strength and accuracy of Crawford’s arm, the best hope the Royals probably would have had if they waved Gordon in would have been for Gordon to get himself in a rundown and hope the the Giants botched it. What’s the execution rate on rundowns? About 99%?

Richie
Guest
Richie
1 year 7 months ago

Probably not quite that high, but then some of the failures include the runner only getting back to the original bag.

Marsupial
Guest
Marsupial
1 year 6 months ago

It was actually about 180′. The bases are 1 1/8″ apart in that video. So that means we know 1 1/8″ = 90′. All you have to do then is measure how far Crawford is from home, which turns out is exactly double at 2 1/4″. So Crawford is 180′ from home. Give or take.

Colonel Obvious
Guest
Colonel Obvious
1 year 6 months ago

Perspective matters!

Doctor Who
Guest
Doctor Who
1 year 7 months ago

Clearly the culprit here was the new catcher impact rules; leave things like the old days and we get a home plate collision for the ages. Boo change and healthy players!

Bill
Guest
Bill
1 year 7 months ago

No, Posey would have caught the ball ten feet away from Gordon. He would have walked up the baseline and tagged Gordon without a collision.

Zen Madman
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

Gordon should have kept running because it would have been more entertaining, especially if he mowed down Posey and knocked the ball loose, but then there was a 5-minute replay decision re: the Posey Rule. Or not.

tz
Guest
tz
1 year 7 months ago

Dale Sveum would have sent him. And would no longer be safe anywhere within 200 miles of Kansas City.

Sean Tuxill
Guest
Sean Tuxill
1 year 7 months ago

Can confirm. Source: Red Sox fan since the mid-90s. Whoever his eye doctor is clearly rooted for another AL East team.

Kojiro Vance
Guest
Kojiro Vance
1 year 7 months ago

Gordon would have been out by at least 30 feet.

Alternative scenario:

Pinch run Dyson for Gordon. Perez bats right and partially blocks Posey’s view of 3rd base line. Bumgarner throws left and has his back to 3rd. Now Sandoval has to play closer to the bag. Does this distraction make Bumgarner miss his spots?

Wouldn’t Dyson have a better chance stealing home than Gordon had making an inside the park HR?

LGAngels27
Guest
LGAngels27
1 year 7 months ago

You have an interesting argument. I just wanted Dyson for the hopes of a wild pitch, but your’s works too.

Kojiro Vance
Guest
Kojiro Vance
1 year 7 months ago

I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t put Dyson in. At the least, he is a major distraction for both Bumgarner and Posey.

With Dyson on 3rd, he automatcally attracts more attention. Posey throws back to Bumgarner more deliberately. With Bumgarner off the rubber he is free to quickly throw home.

But with Bumgarner in the stretch can Dyson time his move home to beat the throw or make Bumgarner throw home before his hands come to rest.

Would have been interesting.

KDL
Guest
KDL
1 year 7 months ago

Because the only advantage Dyson gives you is stealing home. Something you’re not going to ask him to do.

A hit scores Dyson and Gordon.
Sac fly not a possibility, so no speed needed.
Gordon and Dyson have an equally good chance to score on a wild pitch or passed ball.

And you only tie the game with Dyson’s run, and have taken arguably your best player out of Game 7 of the WS to gain almost no advantage whatsoever.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
1 year 6 months ago

“Gordon and Dyson have an equally good chance to score on a wild pitch or passed ball.”

Not equally good, but pretty reasonably close. If there’s a passed ball that Gordon scores on 65% of the time, Dyson probably scores on it 75% of the time, or some such.

obsessivegiantscompulsive
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

Wow, great analysis! I was already blown away then you bring up a video of Crawford! We…are…not…worthy!

I would also add some commentary I read elsewhere. Someone noted that Gordon didn’t run full out immediately, which makes sense in terms of what most players do in a situation where they hit the ball to a sure-handed OF. However, because it was the 7th game of the World Series, and especially because there’s already two outs and he’s their last hope, they wondered why he didn’t run full out anyway, and thus could have been further along when Crawford got the ball.

But as you astutely showed, even had he been halfway to home, Crawford still probably throws him out.

obsessivegiantscompulsive
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

Oh, just to be clear, I meant not worthy of you, though if you have ever seen Crawford’s Professor video on YouTube, we’re not worthy of him either, it was like watching Harlem Globetrotters.

jon
Guest
jon
1 year 7 months ago

How fast did the entire play take? What are some speedy people’s inside-the-park home run times from the season? I’m just wondering on that specific play, how many players COULD have scored

Avattoir
Guest
Avattoir
1 year 7 months ago

Pagan, who’s faster than Gordon on the basepaths (tho not as quick plus fast plus clever in the field) hit an ITPHR to win the first game of the Giants’ 2013 season (a walk-off, to boot). The KEY was he’d hit the ball out to an area in center field he knew was difficult at best to play, knew how hard he’d hit it and how quick it’d get there, and he went all out flat balls to the wall the whole way — ending up barely beating the tag on the throw home.

KC’s got a slightly bigger OF, but less quirky than SF’s, and Gordon’s certainly no faster than Pagan at top speed in that scenario, and probably a bit slower. Point being: ITPHR’s when executed, rare as they are, are pretty much identifiable to the hitter right off the bat. And that definitely did NOT apply to what Gordon did and knew he’d done.

Send HIM!
Guest
Send HIM!
1 year 7 months ago

Either way, this would be one of the craziest plays in history because:

Imagine Gordon just bowling over of all people, Buster Posey, the reason the plate collision rules exist. They would have to review the play and decide the fate of the World Series based on a person’s interpretation of a rule created just this year.

Avattoir
Guest
Avattoir
1 year 7 months ago

Whole lotta cartoon thinkers in this thread.

This ain’t Wile E. Coyote after the roadrunner, kids. This is real life, with real breakable people.

Section 34
Guest
Section 34
1 year 7 months ago

Of course it was the right play to not send him.

It’s just a shame. Because if he goes for it, whether he makes it (what, 10% chance? Bad throw, dropped ball?) or not, this game becomes one of the four best Game 7s ever played, and we all got to see it. As is, it’s probably about the 9th best ever played. Still quite a good game. But if the game was directed by Hollywood, Gordon would have run for it.

Avattoir
Guest
Avattoir
1 year 7 months ago

If it was directed by Hollywood, angels would have picked Gordon up, carried him over Posey and deposited him right on the plate. And it woulda made for a truly awful movie, even if played for laughs.

Hollywood actually MADE this sort of movie, multiple times. The best: Damn Yankees, but only because of the songs and dance numbers; The Natural because it followed Malamud’s story as a sort of primal tale that might have come from The Iliad; and … that’s it – which is why it so often got played for cheap laughs, or relied on animals or children, and almost invariably sucked.

The REASON why Bob Beamon’s long jump, Bolt’s first Olympic 100, and so many other athletic feats are so astounding is because they WERE NOT produced by special FX.

Brian
Guest
1 year 7 months ago

Here’s another thought: let’s say Gordon goes there and is thrown out by 3 feet. But it’s close enough that it’s possible Gordon maybe kinda snuck his hand in, so Ned Yost challenges the play in a Hail Mary hope of keeping his season alive. The World Series might end with all of us watching 3 middle-aged guys standing around with headsets waiting for the inevitable out call.

In other words, most people think that sending Gordon would spark the most thrilling finale in World Series history. But it also could have set off the dreariest ending to any major sporting event ever (outside of the 1972 Olympic men’s basketball final).

Garrett
Guest
Garrett
1 year 7 months ago

I don’t think watching people waiting for the replay results would have been any less thrilling than Perez flailing at one high fastball after another. The whole at bat was anti-climatic.

forrestcardamenis
Guest
forrestcardamenis
1 year 7 months ago

Let’s not forget that if Gordon was safe, that wouldn’t have been the end of the game. Who knows what happens in extras (or maybe Perez doesn’t feel so compelled to swing at everything).

Avattoir
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Avattoir
1 year 7 months ago

Extras certainly wouldn’t favor KC. They were already done with their hydra closers, the Giants still hadn’t used Petit, Romo or Casillas, and if one thing got settled definitively by this Series it’s that the Giants are a better hitting team.

Radermecher
Member
Radermecher
1 year 7 months ago

Great article,something for the Royals fans to chew on this off season.

Bruce Chen
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Bruce Chen
1 year 7 months ago

{now asking Latecia if she can break my last $20….}

baseball
Guest
baseball
1 year 7 months ago

From http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/heat-index/2014/10/30/alex-gordons-late-start-costs-the-royals-in-9th-inning/18176123/ :

“In his triple on April 5, 2013 against the Phillies, Gordon reached third base in 11.03 seconds. That’s a full second faster than what it took him to reach third on Wednesday.”

Crawford is ready to relay at approximately the same time that Gordon touches third.
Suppose Gordon gets a better jump out of the box and you give him an extra second on the clock. What happens if you send him home?

Gordon tops out at roughly 20 miles per hour, which is equivalent to 29.3 feet per second. With that extra second, Gordon is now about 60 feet from home at the point that Crawford is ready to relay. That seems very close to Crawford’s 2.2-2.5 seconds on the relay throw.

Given the time it took for Gordon to arrive at third, it’s definitely smart to hold him. Good decisionmaking by Jirschele. But if Gordon was quicker on the basepaths and matched his earlier time, it seems like there’s a very real chance he could have scored.

chuckmotl
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chuckmotl
1 year 7 months ago

Huh. It looks as if Gordon would have been twenty or so feet from the plate as Posey receives the throw…but what if Posey did not give him a “clear path to the plate”? Would the Replay Gods have called him safe?

PackBob
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PackBob
1 year 7 months ago

If Jirschele had sent Gordon and he was out by 20 feet, as seems most likely, this article would have been instead about whether this was the most boneheaded call by a 3rd base coach in World Series history, complete with screenshots or GIFs of other players getting thrown out by a mile.

To be successful, Gordon’s scoring relies on something going very wrong. On third, there is in addition to Perez getting a solid base hit, a broken bat wounded duck, a swinging bunt, an error, a wild pitch, and a passed ball.

Part of what makes sending Gordon so enticing is how awful Perez’s AB turned out to be.

Giants Dynasty
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Giants Dynasty
1 year 7 months ago

If Perez had hit a game winning 2 run homer no one would be talking about this.
Many people are using the actual results to justify sending him. They would have lost if they dind’t send him. Not true.

Avattoir
Guest
Avattoir
1 year 7 months ago

I don’t think folks are allowing for what an unlikely thing it was for Gordon to get ANY decent wood on the ball he hit. Bumgarner was greeted by a dinky hit in the 5th, but then he mowed down the next 14 batters, and hardly ever got even NEAR to middle of home plate. Given how Bumgarner was going – and Giants watchers saw him in this sort of mood and fitness enough times this year to know this – Gordon getting a hit in the first place, of ANY kind, was pretty surprising.

I watched this level of performance from Sandy Koufax in the 1964 WS against the Yanks. I didn’t really have dog in that fight, and was neither thrilled for the Dodgers nor particularly sorry for NY; but I did get the sort of response you have when one guy has so outclassed the other that they should really stop the contest out of basic humaneness.

asdfasdfasdf
Guest
asdfasdfasdf
1 year 7 months ago

Watching the video replay (with lots of cutting between different camera angles and whatnot), it took about 9 seconds from when Gordon’s bat hit the ball to when Perez finally had the ball in his hand, and about 12 seconds from contact to when Crawford was ready to fire to the plate. With your estimate of the time needed for Crawford to get the ball home, we’re looking at about 14.5 seconds from ball hits Gordon’s bat to ball hits Posey’s glove.

14.5 seconds sure seems like about the right amount of time for an inside-the-park HR.

JSJohnSmithAnon
Member
JSJohnSmithAnon
1 year 7 months ago

Running hard and near perfectly Gordon could probably do 15 seconds. Given his poor route and lack of hustle, it would have very likely taken over 16 seconds for him to touch home in this case. Jeter could have ran in and flipped an offline throw and he still would have been out.

2014 ISTPHR Times
Dee Gordon 6/16 13.89*
Kevin Kiermaier 5/31 14.29
Brandon Barnes 6/14 15.15
Lorenzo Cain 9/8 15.32
Brandon Barnes 6/5 15.4
Andrew McCutchen 9/10 15.44
David DeJesus 9/7 15.50 (estimated)
Jon Singleton 8/2 16.41
Wil Myers 5/4 16.58
Kurt Suzuki 5/20 16.61
http://wapc.mlb.com/cutfour/2014/09/11/94145600/who-had-the-fastest-inside-the-park-home-run-this-year-mccutchen-gordon-kiermaier

asdfasdfasdf
Guest
asdfasdfasdf
1 year 7 months ago

OK, fair enough. Can’t really fault Jirschele then.

I guess it looked a lot closer when I was drunk last night than it really was.

Send HIM!
Guest
Send HIM!
1 year 7 months ago

It takes Billy Hamilton about 12 seconds to get to third base. Alex Gordon is fast but I would estimate full sprint it would take him at least 16 seconds.

AB
Guest
AB
1 year 6 months ago

Alex Gordon made it to 3rd base in 12.1 seconds going less than all-out effort. Gordon had a triple last year that got him to 3rd in 11.03 seconds per Jeff Sullivan. Billy Butler would get to 3rd base around 14 seconds based on his double times. Salvy with his gimpy leg Wednesday night probably could have gotten to 3rd base in under 16 seconds. At full speed Alex Gordon circles the bases in under 15 seconds.

John C
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John C
1 year 7 months ago

People are debating this? If Gordon had come home, he would have been toast unless Posey somehow doesn’t get the ball, and I wouldn’t want to count on Buster Posey making an error in that situation.

pft
Guest
pft
1 year 7 months ago

If Gordon had been going all out from the box he might have had a shot at home. However, he was running half speed like Robbie Cano does and did not turn it on until he was about at first. Inexcusable

Avattoir
Guest
Avattoir
1 year 7 months ago

Nonsense. He was running at various speeds, ranging from well over half to full.

You could try this out yourself: have someone time you has you run fast as you can ’round the bases. Then, try it at a smooth, controlled run You’ll hear your timer tell you a number that’ll be 80% or better of your ‘top speed’. More deliberate effort doesn’t equate to greater efficiency. Batters, hockey players and golfers all know that smoothness and lightness increase bat head, stick and club speed on impact. Same thing with running.

Vil
Member
Vil
1 year 6 months ago

Sorry. I agree with you on most of your comments regarding this situation, but I completely disagree on your perspective about the impact of correct baserunning on outcomes where it’s possible to gain an extra base.

The only time Gordon was running at anything close to full speed was from first to second. Maybe I missed something in the tape, but it appeared to me that he was still watching the action too much as he approached second base instead of relying on the third base coach to tell him what to do. That’s what the third base coach is there for.

I tried out for my high school baseball team. Since I couldn’t hit a fastball, the only chance I had to make the team was to demonstrate that I could play a good defensive OF and was aggressive on the basepaths.

The only reason the coaches even gave me a second glance was because I extended singles into doubles by watching where the ball landed and keeping mental notes on which outfielders had strong arms and which ones didn’t. I also told my first and third base coaches that I was relying on them for information–I wasn’t going to look back at the ball too often; that would reduce my speed. Did I run through some signs? Sure. I wasn’t playing against a bunch of Roberto Clementes and I knew that.

I also used this same aggressive baserunning approach when I played in a recreational softball league—again, with great success.

Did I have above average speed? Yes, I did. But baserunning is a skill and one way to increase your speed around the bases is to run a tight line inside the bases—watch Mike Trout to see how this is done. A lot of baserunners don’t seem to understand this or don’t practice it. And you can still do this going at nearly full speed.

In any event, the point is moot regarding this situation. Even if he had been running at nearly full speed, he still most likely would’ve been a dead duck at the plate. The only way I could see Gordon scoring in this situation would’ve been Crawford dropping the ball as he hastened to make his throw—something Crawford isn’t likely to do.

Pinstripe Wizard
Member
Pinstripe Wizard
1 year 6 months ago

I think it’s a simple answer here. Crawford had the ball before Gordon ever rounded third base. There’s no way you send him there. Crawford has always been considered to have a solid, accurate arm. (Check BA if you don’t agree) If this was say latter years Chuck Knoblauch getting the relay from RF, you send him all day. With an above average guy like Crawford, I don’t really know why people think this is a debate.

That’s the kind of decision that has you packing your bags and heading for Cleveland to work with Lou Brown and Jake Taylor.

Vil
Member
Vil
1 year 6 months ago

I wouldn’t have sent Gordon. I’m grateful to Jeff Sullivan for the work he did to prove rather conclusively that it would have been a bad decision.

But I could see he hadn’t been running full speed before the stop sign came up; he was late out of the gate and he did stumble a bit as he passed second base. He watched too much of the action instead of letting his first and third base coaches give him directions.

One thing not discussed about this play and another significant part of the game: why did Yost refuse to use Willingham as a pinch hitter—either for Aoki earlier in the game when Bumgarner looked like he was having trouble with his command–or for Perez?

I understand that Perez got a HR off of Bumgarner in Game One. Anybody can get lucky.

But in this situation, extending the inning is critical. Willingham has a much better chance of getting a good pitch to hit; his OBP is so much better than that of Perez. If you’re looking for somebody to get on base, consider this: Perez drew all of 22 walks in 578 ABs this year. Willingham had 53 in 297 ABs; he did a considerably better job at drawing walks.

Also, Perez actually hit for a higher average vs. RHPs, while Willingham hit for a much higher average vs. LHPs.

Would it have made a difference? Probably not. But if Willingham gets on, you can send Gore in to pinch run for him. Now you have the winning run dancing off of first base, distracting Bumgarner (he surely wouldn’t have wanted the winning run to reach second base) and perhaps throwing Bumgarner off of his rhythm.

Perhaps. Again, while I understand that Yost was hoping that Perez could get lucky against Bumgarner one more time, I say play the percentages.

AB
Guest
AB
1 year 6 months ago

At full speed Gordon probably circles the bases in under 14.8 seconds even with his 2nd base stumble. Jordy Mercer at full speed circled the bases last year in 14.88 seconds. Gordon is faster than Jordy Mercer.

Crawford got the ball right around 12 seconds. It took 2.2 seconds on a play earlier this year for Crawford already set and facing home to throw about 150′ to Posey. One could assume no less than 0.5 seconds for Crawford to turn around and get set. The 0.5 seconds also considers that he was 10′ farther out than his throw earlier this season. So, the total time for the ball to get to Posey if he got a perfect strike from Crawford would be no less than 14.7 seconds. If he throw as even slightly off line (throw early this year perfect as Posey didn’t have to swing his arm)you are looking at 15 seconds +. Extremely high probability that Gordon scores going full speed. Especially given that he perhaps finds some extra adrenaline rounding third knowing that he has a shot at a inside the park homer in game 7 of the world series.

nick
Guest
nick
1 year 6 months ago

Great article. And fun to read through the comments.

I’d have sent Gordon. 100%. No brainer.

I watched or followed every second of every Royals post-season game. I followed nearly every inning of the Royals since the All-Star Break.

I love Salvador Perez. Good guy. GREAT catcher. Infectious, lovable personality. Smart. Works well with the pitchers. I give him lots of credit for the Royals good starting staff and great closers. Saying that, the guy swings at EVERYTHING and I don’t like seeing him up in tight situations. Yes, he hit the game-winner against Oakland, but it was a foot outside and somehow, some way the ball managed to be pulled down the 3rd baseline, just passed a stunned 3rd baseman.

It’s pointed out above in the comments that Perez homered off Bumgarner earlier in the Series. The Giants were up big and Bum threw all fastballs to Perez, trying to get the game over. It was a FAR different situation than 2 outs in the 9th of a Game 7, up 1 with a guy on 3rd. NO FREAKING WAY does Bumgarner give Perez anything to hit. When Gordon was stopped at 3rd, I knew the game was over. I personally gave Perez ZERO chance to get a hit. That’s harsh, but I felt it’d take a miracle. Sure enough, Bum’s first 5 pitches ranged 8″ to 20″ above the strike zone. Perez swung at 3 of them, including the first pitch that was a foot high. The true miracle was that Perez fouled off the pitch on 2 strikes. The ball was over a foot above the zone, and barely glanced off his handle. The best pitch he got was the final pitch, resulting in a pop out. That pitch was about 2″ above the strike zone.

Watching the replay of Gordon rounding the bases, you can see the outfielder’s throw short-hop the SS. The SS gloves it good, but you can see him double-smack the ball in his glove. Playing SS through high school, I know that situation. You NEVER get the ball in a good grip right away in that situation. You grab the ball, then smack it in your glove to hopefully find a good grip with the seems, helping assure that the ball doesn’t curve one way or the other. Add to that the wetness of the ball, and it’s even a more tricky process.

The 2 outfielders looked FREAKED OUT. Would not surprise me if the left-fielder had to change his briefs in the post-game celebration. When the ball got away from him a 2nd time, you could sense in the moment that the whole Giants team was thinking “holy freaking crap! We’re gonna blow this thing”. In the moment, I was shouting “GO! GO! GO”. I could FEEL the tenseness of the Giants and was giddy at seeing what might happen at home plate. It FELT like something crazy was gonna happen. In the moment, it just FELT like Gordon might score on an errant throw. Or maybe the shortstop calms himself down enough to make a decent throw but the catcher is freaking out, especially with his history of a big collision at the plate. If the ball is a short-hop, will Posey be able to cleanly snag it then tag Gordon? What if Posey has to reach one way then tag the other? What if Posey is worried he’s blocking the plate, and over-compensates, allowing Gordon an outside path to slip his hand over the base? Alas, we’ll never know. Sigh.

I keep seeing people stating that this article above makes conclusive evidence that Gordon’s chances were well under 30%. I don’t really agree, but fine, let’s say Gordon’s chance was 25%. Or even 15%. Or even 5%. As a lifelong, season-long Royals fan, I felt that Perez’s chances of getting a hit were 0%.

Joe
Guest
Joe
1 year 6 months ago

I would have sent the runner, at least in hindsight, because

It puts the pressure on the giants to perform in the clutch instead of Perez. That was surely the most high pressure throw in Crawfords career and he might have messed it up. I see a lot of those throws go halfway up the first base line.

nick
Guest
nick
1 year 6 months ago

EXACTLY.

In the moment, it truly FELT to me that the Giants were in pure melt-down mode. And that’s not slamming their players. ANY baseball player would be freaking once that ball scooted past the fielder. When the SS saw the leftfielder grab for and miss the ball, I imagine his heartbeat rocketed. Then you see the ball from the leftfielder short-hop the shortstop. To me, it’s far less than a sure thing that the SS cleanly grabs the wet ball from his glove, perfectly grips the ball and transfers his weight perfectly to ensure the right velocity and trajectory towards home plate. And the SS needs to this with his heart beating like a jackrabbit.

Then you have the catcher watching all this unfold, with a racing heartbeat as well, deciding where to stand, and thinking to himself that he MUST catch the ball and he MUST tag out the runner to prevent the tying run to score in the 9th inning of a Game 7.

If anyone stumbles across a time machine, please go back and find a way tell Jirschele to windmill his arms like a mad man.

Jason B
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Jason B
1 year 6 months ago

So you’ll also take that 10-15% chance over Perez’s 25-30% chance?

Again…interesting take.

nick
Guest
nick
1 year 6 months ago

Where does your 25-30% Perez chance come from? Bumgarner’s average-against in the Series was about .125.

And any baseball fan with working eyeballs could see that Bumgarner was painting corners and putting the ball exactly where he wanted. Those watching the Royals all post-season would agree that Perez’s BIG weakness is swinging at balls outside the strike zone. To me, Salvy’s chance to get a hit was MAYBE 15%….IF he took the fist pitch or two. But of course he didn’t. He swung at a ball 15 inches high and got in a hole.

You may think all the factors (panic, pressure, wet ball, long throw, a catcher with a history of collisions waiting for the ball) amount to 10-15%. I’d put it at at least 30%.

AB
Guest
AB
1 year 6 months ago

Perez batted almost 60 points less versus LHP on the season (.228) and 9 points less on the season at Kauffman. He also was on a downward batting trend given that Yost doesn’t like to give him a day off. Salvy for the 2nd straight year broke the Royals record for games started at catcher, and this year he started more games at catcher than anyone else in baseball history. Its a reason why his batting average dropped from .283 the first half of the season to .229 the second half of the season and to .207 in the post season. His OBP in Sept./Oct. was .240. Salvy is also particularly bad with men on 3rd base batting .125 with men on 3rd for the season (2 for 19). He also is worse with 2 outs and men on 3rd with a .077 batting average (1 for 15). He also bats worse in the 9th inning than any other inning except the first (.140). Probably because he is worn out with the minimal days off he gets. Once again, in 2014 he is significantly worse against LHP and at Kauffman Stadium. Bumgarner is well above average as a pitcher. Thus, Perez’s chance of getting a hit at that momement against Bumgarner in that situation is most likely less than 10%.

There has to be a greater than 10% chance that the throw of a wet ball is offline, one-hopped, Posey bobbles the ball, the ball is kicked out of his glove, Gordon slides under/around the tag, Posey gets called for blocking the plate (Marlins-Reds Redux), etc.

Joe
Guest
Joe
1 year 6 months ago

WHY DIDN’T GORDON STEAL HOME???

That would have been even better.

john sain
Guest
john sain
1 year 6 months ago

They had 2 even faster runners on the bench who would’ve been happy to try.

Vil
Member
Vil
1 year 6 months ago

For sure. Dyson and Gore creeping down the line.

There was a game earlier this year between the Orioles and the A’s where you might have had an interesting ending.

Nelson Cruz came halfway down the third base line because nobody was holding him (unlikely in the Giants vs. Royals WS final).

He tried to steal home, but Abad calmly flipped the ball to the catcher. But the catcher moved forward to speed up the process. Chris Davis, the batter, didn’t know Cruz was going so he didn’t take a hack at the ball. If he had, he would’ve hit the catcher or the catcher’s mitt at least.

Catcher’s interference would’ve been called and as best as me and my fantasy league buddies could figure out, the runner would’ve been awarded home plate.

What if the Giants chose not to hold a Gore or a Dyson? What if one or the other broke just as the pitcher looked like he was about to throw the ball? Would Posey have gotten up and stepped forward too? What if the Royals were clever enough to have the steal on and instruct the batter to swing at the pitch? Who knows? Pure speculation, but another thing to ponder for the winter.

Cappy
Guest
Cappy
1 year 6 months ago

Posey ran out to the pitcher’s mound as the ball is in the air thinking it was the 3rd out. Two outfielders botch plays at the ball. Who knows where Crawford’s throw ends up. 2014 the year of the replay at home plate. The baseball gods wanted the play at home plate. Gordon should have been sent.

john sain
Guest
john sain
1 year 6 months ago

All of the calculations here seem to be missing the fact that you’re all 100% sure the SS makes a perfect throw to homeplate – from a position in the outfield he is not accustomed to – under the most extraordinary circumstances and pressure he’s ever had to make any throw. Where only a foot wide – high or low – adds to the possibility of a late tag, a bobbled ball, even a ball kicked out of the catcher’s glove. No one is factoring in these percentages – and that’s is because there is no precedent to how that SS has responded to any similar circumstance, ever…..The third base coach. knowing for the previous 5 innings who was pitching – and knowing who was up next (slumping Perez with a leg likely to affect his batting ability)…needed to send Gordon (knowing very well Gordon’s running ability)…It was the bast chance for tying the game….Too bad – whatever would’ve happened – it would have been one of the greatest moments in WS History….too bad.

Joe
Guest
Joe
1 year 6 months ago

consider, the Giants already made two errors on the play. A 3rd error is almost likely

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
1 year 6 months ago

Wait, what? Why in the world would that be the case?! “Well, our CF stumbled so I’m gonna throw the ball clear into the stands…”

It must be why you see so, so many two, three, and four error plays.

Wait…you mean those are virtually nonexistent? Welp.

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