Daniel Murphy and the Costliest Errors in World Series History

I know this isn’t going to help, Mets fans. And I know this might seem like I’m picking on Daniel Murphy which isn’t fair because Daniel Murphy, by himself, has never lost the Mets a game and Daniel Murphy, by himself, has never lost the Mets a World Series. Players don’t lose games, teams do, and the World Series isn’t over yet.

But Daniel Murphy is a human being, and human beings are prone to mistakes. Some mistakes carry greater consequence than others, and on Saturday night, Daniel Murphy made a very costly mistake. Murphy’s mistake is the one that will be remembered, but it was just one of several made by the Mets in the late innings of Game Four that led to them blow a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning.



I feel the need to point out that, if not for all the things Daniel Murphy had done up until this moment, the Mets might not be playing in the World Series in the first place. Remember that, entering the World Series, no player set to play in the Fall Classic had done more in the postseason to get his team there than Murphy.

Murphy’s played plenty of fantastic baseball for New York lately and, when this is all said and done, regardless of the final outcome, his postseason should be remembered as a good one.

Yet, that can’t erase this mistake. Nothing ever will. On this one play, Murphy messed up, and he messed up bad. He’ll be the first to admit it. With one out and the tying run on second base, Eric Hosmer hit a weak chopper off the bat at 78 miles per hour. Murphy didn’t have a shot at the double play, but he had an out at first. He charged, and he came up empty. The ball looked like it had some nasty top spin. He had to worry about the lip of the grass. Lorenzo Cain yelled at him as he ran past. These aren’t excuses, they’re circumstances. Murphy needed to catch the ball, and he didn’t. At the very least, he needed to put a glove or a body on it, and knock it down. Instead, there was a whiff. Instead, the ball rolled into shallow right field and Ben Zobrist scored from second. The game was tied. One batter later, it was worse than tied. Thirteen batters later, the Mets found themselves on the brink of elimination.

They were five outs away from tying the World Series at two games apiece. Before Jeurys Familia threw the 0-1 pitch to Hosmer that led to Murphy’s miscue, the Mets had a win expectancy of 69%. After the ball rolled into right and Zobrist raced from second, that number dropped to 34%. The Mets’ odds of winning the game were cut in half and shifted in favor of the Royals in a matter of seconds. Had Murphy recorded the out at first, the Mets’ win expectancy would have boosted to 75%, so you could argue that the play’s win probability was more like -41%. Regardless, -35% is what will go down in the box score.

In an instant, memories of 1986 flashed before Mets fans everywhere. Only this time, they were on the wrong end of things:

Murphy’s error, in terms of single-game win expectancy, was the most costly fielding mistake by any player in World Series history, save for Boston’s Bill Buckner.

But the World Series isn’t about winning one game, it’s about winning four, so we can take this a step further. Using Baseball-Reference’s Play Index to find WPA and combining that with Championship Leverage Index, we can calculate what’s known as Championship Probability Added. That’s just a fancy way of saying win expectancy, except instead of it being the win expectancy of a single game, like you’re used to, it’s the win expectancy of an entire series.

So, in Murphy’s case, his error had a single-game WPA of -35%. The Championship Leverage Index for a 2-1 series is .38 — in other words, the outcome of a 2-1 game will shift the series odds 38%, one way or the other. Multiply those two figures together, and you get your Championship Probability Added or, more appropriately, Subtracted. In the blink of an eye, Murphy’s error reduced the Mets’ odds of winning the World Series by 13%.

For a single play, that’s a gigantic figure. But it’s not the biggest, and it gives Murphy some room between he and Buckner. This post wouldn’t be complete without a leaderboard or a countdown of sorts, so let’s run through the six most costly errors in World Series history, by Championship Probability Subtracted.

* * *

#6. -13% Daniel Murphy, NYM, 2015 Game Four


You know all about this play, because it literally just happened last night and you’ve just read some 800-odd words on it. It needs no further explaining, for now.

#5. -15% George Moriarty, DET, 1909 Game Six

The Ty Cobb-led Tigers carried a 5-3 lead over Honus Wagner‘s Pirates into the top of the ninth inning. The Pirates led off the inning with singles by Dots Miller and Bill Abstein, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of right fielder Chief Wilson. Wilson squared for a sac bunt, and what happened next couldn’t be more 1909.

As Tigers first baseman Tom Jones charged in to field the bunt, he collided with Wilson, the baserunner, and was knocked unconscious. George Moriarty, the third baseman, and catcher Boss Schmidt were “both spiked while attempting to tag Pirates baserunners,” and Abstein scored from second on Wilson’s bunt. I don’t know, man. It was 1909. Anyway, the end result following that apparent series of assaults was: runners on first and third, no outs, one-run game. The Pirates, despite still trailing 5-4, had actually become 54% favorites in the game, following a 29% shift in win expectancy on the previous play. However, because it was still 1909, there was an out at home on the very next play, and then a strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play at third to end the game. The Tigers, somehow, hung on to a 5-4 victory to force a Game Seven.

They were shut out, 8-0, two days later.

#4. -18% Mariano Rivera, NYY, 2001 Game Seven


The greatest postseason pitcher of all-time made a mistake that set in motion one of the most unlikely innings, and comebacks, in World Series history. After Mark Grace singled to lead off the inning, Damian Miller squared to bunt in an attempt to put the tying run on second base. The tying run got to second base, and the winning run went safely to first, when Mariano Rivera threw the ball into center field. The error caused an 18% shift in win expectancy and, since this was Game Seven and everything was on the line, an 18% shift in championship probability.

The next bunt attempt proved unsuccessful, the lead runner being thrown out at third, but then Tony Womack came through with one of the biggest moments in baseball history. Womack doubled in the lead runner to tie the score at 2-2, Rivera hit Craig Counsell and then Luis Gonzalez flared the memorable broken-bat single into center field that prevented the Yankees from winning their fourth consecutive World Series title.

#3. -19% Freddie Lindstrom, NYG, 1924 Game Seven

Frankie Frisch‘s Giants were tied, 3-3, with Goose Goslin‘s Senators heading into the bottom of the ninth in Washington. After Goslin grounded out to lead off the frame, Joe Judge singled off Art Nehf, representing the winning run. The next batter, Ossie Bluege, tapped a ground ball to New York first baseman Bill Terry, who made a gutsy play by trying to cut down the lead runner, Judge, at third base. Freddie Lindstrom, however, couldn’t handle Terry’s throw from first and was charged with an error, putting runners on the corners with one out.

The error was a 19% shift in win expectancy, making the Senators 83% favorites to win the game, and series. However, the next batter, Ralph Miller, grounded into a double play, rendering Lindstrom’s error moot. Four innings later, the Senators won the World Series on a walkoff double by Earl McNeely.

#2. -19% Tony Fernandez, CLE, 1997 Game Seven

For the fanbases of 29 teams, Murphy’s error no doubt evoked instant thoughts of Bill Buckner. For fans of the Cleveland Indians, though, it was likely Tony Fernandez who first came to mind. The Indians had come within two outs of their first World Series since 1948 t until Jose Mesa blew the save by allowing two singles and a Counsell sac fly to tie the game in the ninth.

Two innings later, it was again Counsell that hit a weak tapper, much like Hosmer’s, to second base, skipping under the glove of Fernandez and rolling into right field, allowing Bobby Bonilla to go first-to-third. That 19% shift in win/series probability made way for an intentional walk, a force out at home, and the two-out single by Edgar Renteria that dashed Cleveland’s title hopes for the second time in three years.

#1. -20% Bill Buckner, BOS, 1986 Game Six


Of course, the most famous of all World Series blunders tops the list. Buckner’s “Behind the Bag” play is perhaps the most well-known error in baseball history, and needs little in the way of explaining. The routine out would* have ended the inning, sending the game into the eleventh. Instead, it rolled through his legs, the Mets won, and two days later they captured their second — and most recent — World Series in franchise history.

*Edit: It could have ended the inning. At the very least, if Buckner knocks it down, the run from second doesn’t score and the game goes on.

* * *

Once you get past the irony, the similarity between Buckner and Murphy’s situations is illuminating. What Buckner is remembered for, of course, is the error. What people tend to forget, though, is that Buckner had a successful 22-year career that most players would have killed for. What people forget is that Calvin Schiraldi retired the first two batters he faced in that 10th inning before allowing three consecutive singles and being pulled from the game. What people forget is that when Bob Stanley came in to relieve Schiraldi, the first thing he did was throw a wild pitch that let the tying run come in to score. What people forget is that Boston’s win expectancy had dropped 45% in that inning before Bill Buckner even had a ball come his way.

Buckner should have fielded the ground ball, absolutely. It was a simple, routine play. One that he’d made thousands of times before, and hundreds of times after. Hell, even Mariano Rivera isn’t safe from the occasional routine lapse on the world’s biggest stage. Daniel Murphy should have fielded his ground ball, too, absolutely. But he didn’t. And, like Buckner, Murphy didn’t lose a game in the World Series for his team, because players don’t lose games. Teams do. The Mets didn’t lose because of Daniel Murphy. The Mets lost because the Royals beat them.



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August used to cover the Indians for MLB and ohio.com, but now he's here and thinks writing these in the third person is weird. So you can reach me on Twitter @AugustFG_ or e-mail at august.fagerstrom@fangraphs.com.


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James
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James
6 months 27 days ago

While I hate to rehash a painful memory, aren’t you exaggerating the impact of Buckner’s error by assuming that he would have made the out at first had he fielded the ball cleanly? It doesn’t seem obvious to me that Buckner with his bad legs beats Mookie to the bag there, and Stanley almost certainly wasn’t in time to cover the bag.

Jack Strawb
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Jack Strawb
6 months 17 days ago

It was Red Sox manager McNamara’s error, really, as he effectively admitted later. He had an athletic sub on the bench that he failed to substitute for Buckner because, as he said, he want Billy to have the ‘glory’ of being on the field when the Sox won.

SubmarineSailor
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SubmarineSailor
6 months 27 days ago

“Buckner’s “Behind the Bag” play is perhaps the most well-known error in baseball history, and needs little in the way of explaining. The routine out would have ended the inning, sending the game into the eleventh.”

I’ve never been entirely sure Buckner beats Mookie Wilson to the bag anyways. As pointed out above, Buckner gets way too much grief. Schiraldi and Stanley were just as much to blame. The Sox also blew a 3-run lead in Game 7, they had their chances.

Rico Brogna
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Rico Brogna
6 months 27 days ago

Sox go up 5-3 needing three outs in the 10th. Why the heck is an injured 1B still in that game? I’m not sure how frequently defensive replacements were employed in that era honestly, but I can’t imagine a manager today sending Buckner out there in that situation.

SubmarineSailor
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SubmarineSailor
6 months 27 days ago

According to a book written by Lou Gorman, via Wikipedia:

In addition to his decision to leave Schiraldi in the game for what was a risky third inning, McNamara sent Buckner back out to play first in the bottom of the tenth. Normally, in late game situations, McNamara would pull Buckner from games due to the first baseman having chronic ankle injuries and put Dave Stapleton in at first for the remainder of the game. Initially McNamara said that he felt that Buckner deserved to be on the field if the Red Sox were to hold on and win the game.[

chuckb
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chuckb
6 months 27 days ago

“McNamara said that he felt that Buckner deserved to be on the field if the Red Sox were to hold on and win the game.”

This sounds a lot like Collins’s justification for using Familia in a 9-3 game Friday. He said something like “he wanted to pitch in that game” so Collins used him, thus leaving him unable to use Familia for 2 innings in game 4.

Eerie.

Rico Brogna
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Rico Brogna
6 months 26 days ago

“Initially McNamara said that he felt that Buckner deserved to be on the field if the Red Sox were to hold on and win the game.”

I would think the rest of the team also deserved to have the best chance of winning. I don’t get the overly sentimental “be on the field at the end” stuff. Yost even said last night his only regret was pulling Sal Perez bc then he wasn’t on the field at the end. I’m sure Perez will be real upset about it once he awakes from his champagne haze a WS champion.

Darrell Berger
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Darrell Berger
6 months 26 days ago

McNamara routinely substituted Dave Stapleton for defensive purposes. He did not do this because “Buckner deserved to be on the field,” for the win that never came. This obviously tempted the baseball gods, just as Dusty Baker tossing the “game winning” ball to whomever he pulled during the Bartman inning. Assuming victory is a great way to thwart it.

Daniel Kearney
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Daniel Kearney
6 months 25 days ago

Not the Bartman inning, in 2003. Not even the same team — he awarded the “game ball” in the World Series between his losing Giants and the winning Angels, in 2002.

Optimetstic
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Optimetstic
6 months 27 days ago

If you imagine Buckner fielding that ball, Wilson still beats him to the bag. It had infield single written all over it.

Adam
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Adam
6 months 27 days ago

Just would like to point out that if we assume everything was the same but Murphy makes the play, Moustakas’ weak ground ball scores 2 runners anyway and the Mets maybe lose 4-3.

AMartin223
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AMartin223
6 months 27 days ago

I don’t know about that, with the error the infielders are playing double play depth up the middle, without it they play back and shifted a little more, I think Murphy probably gets to that ball.

Opie Curious
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Opie Curious
6 months 27 days ago

I don’t know that this is true. If Murphy makes the play, it’s 2nd and 3rd, two out. They’re not worried about the run at home, so they can play their standard shift. Moose isn’t much of a runner, so the player in short right probably fields and throws to first in time.

Or heck, maybe they decided to hold the runners to make sure Cain doesn’t have a laughably big lead at 2nd (to prevent the go-ahead run scoring even on a sharply hit single to left). Then they’d be in a standard alignment cheated toward 1st just a little, rather than at double play depth. The ball was hit pretty straight, so Murphy, positioned deeper, probably gets to it.

maguro
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maguro
6 months 26 days ago

No, it would have been 2nd and 3rd, one out.

Eric the Snail
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Eric the Snail
6 months 27 days ago

I don’t think the Giants were playing in San Francisco in 1924…

D
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D
6 months 27 days ago

In these cases, shouldn’t WPAmbe calculated as the difference between making the play and the error? Murphy’s -35% is pre-plate appearance. The full swing is probably closer to 50% (guessing).

Damaso
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Damaso
6 months 27 days ago

credit to the royals for taking advantage, but man along with goins and correa that’s 3 massive defensive mistakes by their opponents to arguably swing all 3 series in their favor.

The Narrative
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The Narrative
6 months 27 days ago

Hosmer made a similar error in Game 1, but no one remembers it because of Gordon’s homer on Familia. Everyone makes mistakes, but the Royals are especially well equipped to not make as many as their opponents and to capitalize on the mistakes made against them. It isn’t like Daniel Murphy being a defensive liability wasn’t already known.

chuckb
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chuckb
6 months 27 days ago

And Wright’s error in game 1 led to the winning run in the 14th inning.

There’s a lot in this series that has reminded me of the ’06 series between the Tigers and Cardinals.

Opie Curious
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Opie Curious
6 months 26 days ago

The Kansas City Star’s Royals beat writer: “The entire point of the Royals is that baseball is a hard game and if you make your opponent do things, sometimes they will screw up”

I think there’s difficult to quantify skill in there. TTO and similar measurables have gotten more and more expensive for good reason, but to become extremely good at one thing you often train your way away from being good at other things. The Royals are great at avoiding mistakes (and recall one of those TTOs is the arguably avoidable mistake of striking out). They are also great at testing whether their opponents can avoid mistakes: contact, speed, and smart baserunning on offense; range, good arms, and not letting the quality of their starters keep them from going to the pen when they really should on defense.

A lot of the specific incidents are luck, but specific incidents are nearly always luck. Constantly being in position to see it happen, though, might not be. The frustration people have with this team, from an analytics perspective, is not really being sure where to look for quantifiable skill. And honestly? It could be 100% luck. That’s a possibility. We know that even after 162 games baseball has more randomness than any major sport does in 16 or 38 or 82 games. That a team could get this lucky two years in a row in the course of a century is definitely possible.

But they definitely put themselves in position to get lucky more often than anyone else does. That seems a lot like a skill.

Andy
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Andy
6 months 26 days ago

If you want luck, how did the Yankees manage to win three WS in a row (and barely miss a fourth), in the late 90s? If we assume they were good enough to have a .55 probability of winning any single game against postseason teams, the odds of winning a single WS are about .22, and the odds of winning three in a row are about one in a hundred.

And that doesn’t include just making it to the WS in 2001, or winning it in 1996.

Mark
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Mark
6 months 25 days ago

The Braves had the least number of strikeouts in the league for much of the season. They were putting the ball in play a lot and doing nothing with it.

There are different strategies for winning, but the Royals are a lot more than just a team that puts the ball in play and hopes for the best.

David Scott
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David Scott
6 months 26 days ago

Don’t forget the ump’s call in game six of the ’85 World Series.

John
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John
6 months 27 days ago

It’s misleading to say it was a ‘weak chopper off the bat at 78 miles per hour’ because although it was weak in terms of forward velocity, it was hard in terms of topspin. The first bounce was very high, the second was low but not that low and the third one was barely off the ground–look at the big difference between the height of the second and third bounces at 0:44-5–and this is why Murphy missed it, because the normal assumption is that the second and third bounces will be roughly the same height and the ball went under his glove. Try hitting a ping-pong or tennis ball with a huge amount of topspin and you’ll get the same effect–after the first bounce at a less than 30 degree angle, the next bounce will barely get off the ground. It was a much harder play than it looks at first, and rather than just saying Murphy messed up a weakly hit ball, Murphy should get less than 100% blame and Hosmer should get some credit for hitting a ball which was hard to field (in his five seasons his GB% has been 51.9% and he’s averaged 12 infield hits a year, so getting on base on grounders has always been a significant part of his game).

Kevin
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Kevin
6 months 26 days ago

you are correct about the top spin. on the other hand every high chopper has that sequence of bounces and are seen at least a couple times in every game all season long. out at first might have been a difficult play, but fielding it cleanly, or at least keeping the ball in the infield, would not be exceptional even for a non-pro calibre defender.

N8*k
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N8*k
6 months 25 days ago

One observation I noticed while watching Murphy was that he did not seem to position himself for a good bounce and thus he often found himself trying to field an in between hop. When watching more skilled fielders, I see them charging hard or sitting back to get the more favorable hop.

John
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John
6 months 27 days ago

Actually now that I look at the Buckner error, it was exactly the same thing–chopper with heavy topspin with the third bounce barely getting off the ground and going under Buckner’s glove. The difference is that the second bounce was different (maybe because it hit the dirt instead of grass?)–it bounced lower (though still higher than the third one) and so the difference in heights wasn’t so great. But it also sped up radically after the second bounce, presumably because of topspin, more so than Hosmer’s hit, and that also made fielding it more tricky.

Smelly Muslim
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Smelly Muslim
6 months 27 days ago

Instead of blaming this on bad luck or randomness, maybe this shows the importance of having strong defenders? With playing Murphy at 2B, the Mets sacrificed defense for offense, and it bit them in the ass.

Well-Beered Englishman
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6 months 27 days ago

You have an odd username.

chuckb
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chuckb
6 months 27 days ago

Odd isn’t the word I’d use.

Sam
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Sam
6 months 26 days ago

Indeed. “Racist” might be the word I’d use.

Mean Mr. Mustard
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Mean Mr. Mustard
6 months 26 days ago

As Muslim is not a race, one can’t really say it’s racist.

Randy
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Randy
6 months 27 days ago

I’m certainly looking forward to seeing Dilson Hererra play second next year…

A cat
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A cat
6 months 27 days ago

What was the change in win probability after the Blanco/Perez error in game 7 last year?

John
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John
6 months 27 days ago

Excellent question. If we assume was that the difference was between a man on 1st and a man on 3rd, http://gregstoll.dyndns.org/~gregstoll/baseball/stats.html#H.-1.9.2.2 would calculate it as 91.1% vs. 84.84%, so 6.26%, a little less than half of Murphy’s.

Joe
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Joe
6 months 27 days ago
ray
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ray
6 months 27 days ago

Nice article–as usual for FanGraphs. John is right–there are “weak choppers” and then there are “weak choppers”. Both Murphy’s and Hosmer’s errors brought back chilling flashbacks of my own infield “career” in the local senior league: both of those balls were the sort that makes you say “ohhhh, sh*t” as you make your move–too many moving parts, too much time to think, too many laws-of-physics variables. The ball that ate Hosmer up, especially: I knew at the time that he was going to have his hands full (or empty, as the case may be)–moving to his left, the second weird bounce, the topspin . . .

I know the video links are hard to come by, but I would have added Fred Snodgrass, Fred Merkle and Chief Meyers of the 1912 NY Giants to the list. Snodgrass muffed a fly ball that got the Series-winning rally started for the Red Sox in the bottom of the 10th of the final game, and Merkle and Meyer let a pop foul drop between them, giving Tris Speaker the chance to drive in the tying run later in the at-bat; the Red Sox won their second WS later in the inning.

Rico Brogna and SubmarineSailor are absolutely right re: Buckner and John McNamara. Buckner not only had no business being on the field in the 10th inning, he should not have gotten nearly the amount of playing time that McNamara gave him–he had a brutal series, hitting (and slugging) .188, driving in one run and scoring two. He couldn’t run–hell, he could barely move–and he wasn’t much of a first baseman to start with. Viewed in a vacuum, you can say that managers always feel like they need to stick with the line-up that’s gotten the team this far; in the Boston context, though, there’s the backstory of managers stubbornly favoring the stars and giving them playing time they don’t deserve just because they’re the stars. Some of that could be urban legend, but in ’86 we were haunted by the still-fresh memory of 1978 when Don Zimmer basically blew the pennant for the Sox in part by repeatedly sending out players who were too injured to play effectively. (“Once more, Hobson throws the ball into the first-base dugout and grabs his elbow in pain . . . “)

As for the vilification Buckner had to endure, of course, that’s horrible and unfair–it’s just a game, and it’s not like he tried to screw up on purpose. But I’ve always wondered if that wasn’t in part a case of “what goes around, comes around”. Early in his career, there was something dubious about him, something part prima donna, part jerk. I remember being shocked listening to an interview with him when he was on the Dodgers in the ’70s, and, with a smug smile on his face, he started talking about a team mate who “was one of the biggest phonies I’ve ever met” (I’m paraphrasing here). It was Steve Garvey, of course. While I never liked HIM very much, and subsequent events kind of proved Buckner right . . . I mean, that’s just NOT something you do in the middle of a pennant race. Not that openly, not off the cuff (as I recall, the interviewer had not asked him anything to which what he said would be considered a reasonable response). Then, there was Buckner getting thrown out at third base in the 9th inning of the 1974 WS–he already had a lead-off double, the Dodgers were three runs down and facing elimination, there was no need to make an easy out in that situation, and I recall thinking at the time that that was nothing more than faux hustle exacerbated by sheer bone-headedness. Now, I’m not trying to make a direct connection between these specific events and the abuse he endured after 1986; I’m only suggesting that perhaps these were symptoms of underlying character traits that might have made some people less inclined to give him a break in ’86. I actually had a couple of face-to-face encounters with him at the 1995 Cubs convention, and he seemed like a man in the throes of chronic depression. I felt horrible for him.

H Vaughn
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H Vaughn
6 months 26 days ago

I had no idea Merkle had another high-profile error besides his famous boner. What horrible karma.

John C
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John C
6 months 26 days ago

You will find that there are very few Red Sox fans who vilify Buckner for that error. Almost to a man, we will tell you that Buckner had no business being there to commit that error in the first place. The worst error committed by the Red Sox in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series was committed by their manager. I understand McNamara’s sentiment to leave Buck on the field when the championship was won–but if you have someone on the field where they don’t belong, the ball will always find them.

I’ve always felt like he messed up before that, taking Schiraldi out of the game. He was the best the Red Sox had in that situation, not Bob Stanley. I’d have lived or died with my best.

John
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John
6 months 27 days ago

It was 89.64% vs. 57.77%, which is significantly more even than Buckner’s. And realistically the difference is probably even more than that, because Buckner’s play wasn’t 100% routine, while Snodgrass’s was described by everyone as being a pop-up. But apparently things weren’t so simple–Snodgrass is described as having made a spectacular catch to rob the next batter of an extra-base hit, so maybe he really came out even for the inning, and with men on 1st and 2nd and the Giants still ahead, a foul pop fell close to the 1st baseman because the pitcher (Christy Mathewson) called for the catcher to get it, the 1st baseman backed off, and the catcher couldn’t get it. That made a change from to 83.15% to 63.93% about the same as Fernandez’ (the hitter who was saved, Tris Speaker, got a hit and the Red Sox won the World Series that inning).

Dave C
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Dave C
6 months 26 days ago

If you haven’t already, read the interview with Snodgrass in Lawrence Ritter’s excellent “The Glory of Their Times.” Snodgrass discusses his view of both plays.

francis
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francis
6 months 27 days ago

I’d say a game 7 error is more costly than a game 4 error, all other things held constant.

Buckner’s error is overblown because it was the “cursed” Red Sox, and they were a strike away from winning the series five minutes prior.

Rivera’s error has been undervalued because the Yankees won 4 of the prior 5 world series.

j.gordon
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j.gordon
6 months 26 days ago

Buckner’s error was in Game 6 not Game 7.

j.gordon
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j.gordon
6 months 26 days ago

ignore above.

Neil
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Neil
6 months 27 days ago

Great article, August – thanks for writing! I am actually really impressed by how quickly you can run the numbers, write the article, and find/embed the videos so soon after the game.

tz
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tz
6 months 27 days ago

Seconded. And where did you get the WPA for that 1909 World Series?

(the other) Walter
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(the other) Walter
6 months 26 days ago

I’d have been SUPER impressed if they managed to get video of the 1909 and 1924 incidents ;)

Walter Ulbricht
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Walter Ulbricht
6 months 27 days ago

“between he and Buckner” between is a preposition, as the object of a preposition the pronominal form is “him.” That sould read “between him and Buckner.”

francis
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francis
6 months 27 days ago

Glad you’re here, because I’ve got a question:

Is the plural of RBI RBIs or RsBI ?

Grammarist
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Grammarist
6 months 27 days ago

RBI’s.

Zing.

Tramps Like Us
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Tramps Like Us
6 months 27 days ago

but wait, Francis….assuming your first guess is correct (and only Walter is qualified to answer that, so that assumption is shaky at best)…..couldn’t it also be “RBI’s?” Or is the apostrophe not used because the plural of RBI is not possessive? This is important shit!!!

Jonnyzuck
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Jonnyzuck
6 months 26 days ago

I think the plural of RBI is still RBI. Wins Above Replacement is still WAR so going by the same logic it’s just RBI.

#FireCollins
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#FireCollins
6 months 27 days ago

How about an article about Collins bullpen managment? Clippard has been a disaster for 2 months and Collins keeps using him in the 8th. Familia has been used with big leads when it wasn’t necessary and then brought in to clean up Clippards messes. Reed, Colon and Niese have proven reliable in the playoffs SSS or not I’d rather see them or even Robles in a pressure situation as it was in the 8th last night.

#FireCollins
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#FireCollins
6 months 27 days ago

And to beat that dead horse a little.. If Famila doesn’t pitch game 3 he could have started the 8th in game 4 (as Wade Davis did) or better yet even having pitched game 3 if your using him with runners on and 1 out wouldn’t he have been better off starting the 8th?

#FireCollins
Guest
#FireCollins
6 months 27 days ago

#FireCollins #BlameCollins

Randy
Guest
Randy
6 months 27 days ago

My only hope is that Collins retires after tonight.

Smelly Muslim
Guest
Smelly Muslim
6 months 27 days ago

Yeah wasting Familia in game 3 was inexcusable. Gave KC another chance to see his pitches and get timing down. Idiotic.

Randy
Guest
Randy
6 months 27 days ago

Reed should definitely have supplanted Clippard as the 8th inning guy. Everyone, with the exception of Collins, figured that out a while ago.

#FireCollins
Guest
#FireCollins
6 months 26 days ago

My initial complaint was about using him in the 8th. But using him in the 8th vs the top of the order is even worse! Bullpen roles are overblown but that was an extremely high leverage situation and arguably the Mets worst reliever. #FireCollins

Benjamin Kaspick
Member
6 months 27 days ago

What were the Mets’ Championship odds before the play?

francis
Guest
francis
6 months 26 days ago

You have a point. How does the song go ?

“nothin from nothin leaves nothin …”

Randy
Guest
Randy
6 months 27 days ago

Casual baseball fans and the world-at-large got to see what it’s like to be a Met fan, writ large, in one play. I don’t have children, but if I did, I would steer them as far away from the Mets as possible. I guess I should be thankful that Murphy didn’t see something shiny and wander off a base, or something. And, while it may be true that they would not have made the Series without Murphy’s home run binge in the first two rounds, if you make it and lose, who really cares?

Tramps Like Us
Guest
Tramps Like Us
6 months 27 days ago

After being subjected to “Go Mets!” all week on every nationally-televised show this week (sports-related or not), I am reminded why I always root against New York teams. Poor Mets fans. Anything that disproves what New Yorkers know (that the world revolves around them and their city) must be a good thing.

Randy
Guest
Randy
6 months 27 days ago

I’m actually a native and resident of Central California who’s been a life-long Met fan because I loved Gary Carter when I was a kid. See what happens when you assume?

Randy
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Randy
6 months 27 days ago

I’m guessing you’re a Cub fan?

Randy
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Randy
6 months 27 days ago

I’m joking about the Cub fan thing. Oddly, I understand where you’re coming from, as I don’t root for any NY teams other than the Mets, and actively despise the Giants, Knicks and Rangers.

Tramps Like Us
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Tramps Like Us
6 months 27 days ago

Nope

Tramps Like Us
Guest
Tramps Like Us
6 months 27 days ago

To write so in depth, analyzing all the angles, about Buck’s miscue, but not mention that Stapleton was used all year as a late-inning defensive replacement but not in that game, seems like you’re really missing the elephant in the room. It’s like blaming Russell Wilson for losing last year’s Super Bowl. Neither should never have been in position to lose their respective games when, clearly, better options were so readily and easily available.

tz
Guest
tz
6 months 27 days ago

Ummm, lots to put into an article so quickly, so including the point about Stapleton would be like including a whole sidebar about how Tyler Clippard should have never started the 8th inning, much less staying in to face Cain after Zobrist’s leadoff walk.

Great article, no gripes here.

Randy
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Randy
6 months 27 days ago

Exactly. I’ve always felt that Schiraldi and McNamara were much more to blame than Buckner.

Buck Loner
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Buck Loner
6 months 26 days ago

A lot of blame to go round:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZsgubsI4Mo

tz
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tz
6 months 27 days ago

While my previous comment was critical of Tramps’s criticism of the article not including the Stapleton factor, I totally agree that the decision to leave Buckner in was the primary cause of the fatal inning, and Schiraldi and Stanley secondary causes. Buckner never should have been put in that position in the first place.

Tramps Like Us
Guest
Tramps Like Us
6 months 27 days ago

What I said. You flip flop as well as HRC!!!

tz
Guest
tz
6 months 26 days ago

Not a flip flop. I agreed with your premise from the beginning, but it looked like you were critical of August not mentioning the Stapleton issue, and I focused on that in the first comment. That’s all.

Tramps Like Us
Guest
Tramps Like Us
6 months 26 days ago

OK, TZ….snark aside……I don’t think Mac’s failure to insert Stapleton is trivial. It set up one of the most famous plays ever. And August mentions Stanley’s mishaps……and Schiraldi’s too. He says “what people fail to remember is…..” When he sets the #1 biggest WS error segment up and mentions those events, but not the Stapleton omission, it feels like he’s guilty of his own point, which is that people “fail to remember.” The non-substitution is more important than either Schiraldi or Stanley’s miscues because it was a mental mistake. He actually considered the change but decided against it for purely sentimental reasons. For me, that is unforgivable and should have been mentioned whether the article was written on short notice or not. And by the way, it’s a very good article! And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Phillies113
Member
Member
6 months 26 days ago

Baseball is a cruel game, sometimes. Best you can do is try to put it behind you and try to win the next one. What makes Buckner’s so much worse is it was, literally, the very last play of the season. There was no real shot at redemption or redeeming himself. Murphy’s error, while very bad, is not the worst thing that ever could have happened. It would be nice for the fans and especially for Murphy if he was able to do something great tonight to make up for last night.

Tramps Like Us
Guest
Tramps Like Us
6 months 26 days ago

Not ‘literally the very last play of the season.” Billy Buck’s error was in game 6. The Mets won in 7.

Randy
Guest
Randy
6 months 26 days ago

Darn slow typing! You beat me to it.

Tramps Like Us
Guest
Tramps Like Us
6 months 26 days ago

LOL.

Randy
Guest
Randy
6 months 26 days ago

Not trying to be a jerk or anything, but you do realize that Buckner’s error came in Game 6, not Game 7, right? And that the Red Sox were actually up 3-0 going into the bottom of the 6th in Game 7?

Phillies113
Member
Member
6 months 26 days ago

Argh! In summation, I am an idiot.

Please disregard everything I’ve said.

Dammit.

H Vaughn
Guest
H Vaughn
6 months 26 days ago

I think if the play in which Rios forgot the number of outs had proven decisive it would have been on par with the Buckner miscue. Truly a bonehead play.

Fred Merkle
Guest
Fred Merkle
6 months 26 days ago

yeah, what a bonehead that Rios is

francis
Guest
francis
6 months 26 days ago

I actually thought Flores left too soon on replay. Real close, but the Mets probably got a break there.

On a separate but related topic, I think plays like leaving the bag early while tagging and catcher’s interference ought to have exemptions for feasibility of the play resulting in an out.

Hypothetically, if Flores left a split second early and Rios didn’t throw the ball in at all, Flores ought to be safe.

Similarly, if Escobar is standing on second by the time Zobrist interferes with d’Arnaud, he ought to be safe.

randomjoeblow
Guest
randomjoeblow
6 months 26 days ago

Flores left 3rd multiple steps early. It was clear.

d’Arnaud had no chance to throw out Escobar (apparently he has no chance to throw out anyone?!), so he lunged at Zobrist to get the interference call. It worked, it was right, but…weak.

The correct ruling would be to send the runner back to the previous base. If Escobar was standing on 1st, he gets to stay there. But, since he was running, he’s out?

vslyke
Member
6 months 26 days ago

I know you limited this piece to World Series errors but I imagine the Jose Lind error in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS would rival some of these plays.

Karma
Guest
Karma
6 months 26 days ago

Daniel Murphy is a homophobe and I am glad he cost his team a World Series game.

francis
Guest
francis
6 months 26 days ago

Really ?

I get your point, but you have no idea what any of the other players’ views on the issue are.

So you single Murphy out because he’s the guy that was asked the question.

Ask every Royal the same question and I’m pretty sure you’ll get someone you wish would also cost them a World Series game.

NBH
Guest
NBH
6 months 26 days ago

I will never forget the Royals giving the Fangraphs writer a hard time after he quizzed them about their high GB%. Bunch of dicks

Ben
Guest
Ben
6 months 26 days ago

Let’s be honest here: there are probably several Royals with political views very similar to Murphy, and there are probably several Mets who would be dicks if quizzed about sabermetric nuances. Don’t go expecting athletes to be saints.

John C
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John C
6 months 26 days ago

Funny, even Billy Bean himself had no problem whatsoever with what Murphy said. So why should you?

Anon
Guest
Anon
6 months 26 days ago

I’ve seen it mentioned in a some of these comments but the one thing most casual fans forget about the Buckner error is that it was a tie game. Even if he makes the play, it’s still basically a 50/50 game at that point. (I suppose the as the home team MEts would STILL have been favorites if Buckner makes the play, something like 55%/45%). Even with the error, the Sox still had a game 7. So many casual fans think that play lost the series.

It’s a little like Gordon being held at 3rd last year – it’s not like that would have won the game. It would have tied the game. Given the incredibly low odds that he is safe, that would have been one of the worst gambles in MLB history if Gordon had been sent.

Brian
Guest
Brian
6 months 26 days ago

That error on Fernandez is a pretty harsh call, I think it should have been a hit. It looks more like he failed to make a great play rather than letting an easy ball get through.

Dave R.
Guest
Dave R.
6 months 26 days ago

I know this is probably a tough one to figure, but let’s, just for argument’s sake, count Duda’s throw in the top of the ninth last night as an error. I know it can’t be scored that way, but anyone who saw the play knows that even a decent throw gets Hosmer at home, and it was an error in every way but the way it had to be scored.

If that could’ve been scored an error, where would it have ranked? To me, Duda’s throw was much more imporant than Murphy’s error. A decent throw ends the game. In Murphy’s case, it still would’ve been second and third with two outs in the eighth inning.

brendan
Guest
brendan
6 months 26 days ago

Well you go from a 100% chance of winning to what, 60%? So yeah I’d expect to see an article on here about it sometime very soon

John C
Guest
John C
6 months 26 days ago

Cause and effect come into play there. Hosmer isn’t running if the first baseman is better defensively than Lucas Duda. The Royals knew Duda doesn’t throw well, so they forced him to make the play. He couldn’t do it. If that had been the other New York team, and it’s Mark Teixeira playing first, Hosmer stays at third base.

In that sense, there’s not really a “what if?” to make.

Dave R.
Guest
Dave R.
6 months 26 days ago

I think there are other factors, too. Hosmer isn’t running if that’s the first out; he’s running there because he figures the chances of Familia giving up a hit with two outs are slim. Better to test Duda. That being said, is it fair to say that Duda makes that play 7.5 out of 10 times while a better fielder makes it 9 or 9.5 out of 10? So then the Mets went from 75% chance of winning to whatever it was.

I think a first baseman who doesn’t make that play 75% of the time shouldn’t be in the majors, but maybe I’m wrong.

Jack Strawb
Guest
Jack Strawb
6 months 17 days ago

Furthermore, the Mets had a much better fielder on the bench. What was Duda doing on the field?

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
6 months 26 days ago

I got halfway through this article before realizing that it was about game 4 and not game 5, where Daniel Murphy also made a pretty costly error that could have sent the series back to KC, had he been able to turn the double play in the 12th:

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/63106348/v527601583/?game_pk=446277

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
6 months 26 days ago

As an addendum to this comment, I’ll note that Murphy’s error in the 12th only reduced the Mets’ win percentage from 13.4% to 11.5% due to the fact that Royals had already scored a run.

So, not the biggest impact error by any measure, but getting out of that inning without giving up another run (not to mention another four) certainly would have helped.

hamsterdam
Guest
hamsterdam
6 months 18 days ago

An incomplete double play is not an error, because a dp is not assumed. Which is why Duda wasn’t charged with a throwing error.

Fredchuckdave
Guest
6 months 26 days ago

The Murphy giveth, and the Murphy taketh away.

hamsterdam
Guest
hamsterdam
6 months 17 days ago

For the Mets, its…The Buckner giveth, and the Murphy taketh away.

David K
Guest
David K
6 months 25 days ago

What, no video clips for the #5 and #3 plays on this list? Do some RESEARCH!!! Dig up those old 16mm cannisters!

Rico
Guest
Rico
6 months 25 days ago

Buckner is one of the most unfairly slagged off players in the history of sports. First off, even if he fielded the ball cleanly there’s no way with his bad knees he beats Mookie to the bag and where is the damn pitcher covering anyway? In any case, the tying run would have scored no matter what happened because Stanley sucked and its his wild pitch anyway that should have been the infamous moment in baseball history. Murphy OTOH deserves every bit of condemnation because he blew an easy grounder that potentially would have gotten them out of the inning and into a WS tie. Definite karma there and as a 90’s era Pirates fan, I’m always glad to see the Mets lose.

ruben
Guest
ruben
6 months 21 days ago

The article is faulty. First, look at the play and please observe that Zoberist scores wether Murph catchs the ball or not. Please also note that the Royals are HIGHLY likely to score with 2nd and 3rd and 1 out. Who believed that the Poyals weren’t going to score a run with 1st and 2nd and no outs? Please stop blaming Murphy.

Mike Fox
Guest
Mike Fox
6 months 14 days ago

Where does the “Snodgrass muff” in the 1912 Workd Series fall in the scheme of things? Didn’t the Giants lose the series because of that?

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