The Grand Slam That Almost Wasn’t

Astute readers with the internet access necessary to read this article are probably aware that the Boston Red Sox will be meeting the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2013 World Series. They are also probably aware that it was Shane Victorino who played hero for Boston, delivering a game winning grand slam in the seventh inning. Before Victorino’s home run, it was a bit touch and go for the Sox.

The Tigers threatened a monster of a rally in the top of the sixth. With no outs, two runs already plated and runners on first and third, Jhonny Peralta grounded out into an…interesting…double play. Dustin Pedroia tagged Victor Martinez on his way to second before throwing home. Prince Fielder – caught in a rundown – desperately tried to make it back to third. He fell short.

Still, the Tigers did take a 2-1 lead in the inning. Between Max Scherzer and a strong bullpen, the Tigers must have felt good about their roughly 80 percent chance to win.

The Sox weaseled their way out of a second potential rally in the seventh. Austin Jackson singled with one out but was promptly picked off. Jose Iglesias followed with a hit and Torii Hunter reached base on an error. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the shell of Miguel Cabrera grounded out to end the inning. With the Tigers out of it, we’ll be left to wonder if things would have been different with a healthy Cabrera. And there’s no doubt that plenty of analysts will second guess Jim Leyland’s decision to continue to play Cabrera through injury for most of the season.

Having handled two potential rallies while keeping the game within reach, Boston’s offense got to work in the home half of the seventh. Scherzer was lifted after recording one out and allowing two base runners to reach. Drew Smyly was brought in to face Jacoby Ellsbury, but a costly error by Iglesias allowed the Sox to load the bases. With Victorino coming to the plate, Leyland brought in former Astros closer Jose Veras to limit the damage. Let’s just say that some moves work out better than others. After Victorino’s home run, the Tigers went quietly into the night.

But slightly different circumstances could have led to a very different outcome (that’s always the case in baseball, but bear with me). Prior to Game 5, Victorino made the decision to begin switch hitting again. Ostensibly, he wanted to counter Detroit’s difficult all-right-handed rotation.

Victorino has switch hit for his entire major league career, but gave up batting left-handed in early August due to injuries. Batting lefty against Anibal Sanchez, his first two at bats produced weak results – a strike out and a fielder’s choice. Victorino reverted to batting right-handed for his third at bat. Coincidentally, that resulted in a strikeout against Veras.

Since giving up batting left-handed, Victorino has had one of the most productive stretches of his career. August saw him post a .419 wOBA and seven home runs. Between August 4th and the end of the season, six of his 10 home runs came batting righty against right-handed pitching. He posted a .395 wOBA in 115 plate appearances against same-handed pitchers.

Victorino has always featured better power from the right side. His career numbers bear that out – a .204 ISO batting right-handed versus a .132 ISO batting left-handed. His power batting left-handed has been even worse over the past two seasons, although the sample size involved limits our ability to draw strong conclusions.

Given the numbers discussed thus far, it’s fair to wonder why Victorino bats left-handed at all. After all, he performed well in the regular season and provided postseason heroics without batting lefty. While it’s possible that Victorino may be better as a purely right-handed batter, it appears to be a trade off between power and plate discipline. He struck out over 21 percent of the time against same handed pitching compared with a rate around 12 percent against opposite handed pitching. His walk rate also halved against same handed pitching, falling from a little over five percent to 2.6 percent.

Over a small sample, that poor plate discipline didn’t adversely affect his numbers, but it’s quite possible that major league pitchers would find ways to further exploit Victorino by discovering where he’s weakest. Alternatively, it’s not hard to imagine that Victorino could improve those rates with practice, although it does seem a bit late in his career to work that out.

Had Victorino stuck with his plan from prior to Game 5, he would have come to the plate against Veras batting left-handed with the bases loaded. He probably would not have hit a grand slam. The Sox did have a 56 percent chance to win the game at that point and our hypothetical lefty batting Victorino may have added to those odds. But it probably would not have the 37 percent leap that his home run provided.




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Brad is a former collegiate player who writes for FanGraphs, MLB Trade Rumors, The Hardball Times, RotoWorld, and The Fake Baseball. He's also the lead MLB editor for RotoBaller. Follow him on Twitter @BaseballATeam or email him here.


86 Responses to “The Grand Slam That Almost Wasn’t”

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  1. the fume says:

    Another way that it almost wasn’t……if Bogarts is called out on strikes like he should have been, and Scherzer is still in the game to face Ellsbury and/or with 2 outs Iglesias doesn’t try a fancy glove flip to turn two.

    That umpire was horrible, he would’t have known an outside corner if it was a foul tip and he was Avila’s face mask. Oh well, at least we get some more 4 hour 9-inning games.

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    • Mister says:

      That umpire was awful, and that call was particularly awful at an important point in the game. But he was awful the whole game and had bad calls that affected both teams.

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      • the fume says:

        No, he wasn’t bad for both teams actually. 4 clear strikes called balls, all by Tiger pitching. 9 clear balls called strikes, 7 by Boston pitching. Hideous, biased.

        http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/zoneTrack.php?month=10&day=19&year=2013&game=gid_2013_10_19_detmlb_bosmlb_1%2F&prevGame=gid_2013_10_12_detmlb_bosmlb_1%2F&prevDate=1019

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        • FoffTODD says:

          Quit whining. Every team has games where calls don’t go their way. It works both for and against them throughout the season.

          The Umps don’t have any bias towards the Sox or the Tigers.

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        • Nick says:

          Do I sense some pains in your anus?

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        • commave says:

          That’s really interesting. Most of the bad calls are clustered around the same part of the zone (lower glove side for the catcher). Avila is a pretty good pitch framer, but his knee injury may have affected that. Have to go back and see if he is stabbing.

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        • Mike says:

          lol at “Every team has games where things don’t go their way during a season.”

          It was freaking game 6 of the ALCS. It’s kind of a big deal when you’re facing the most patient line-up in the league and your starting pitcher gets squeezed all night compared to the other starter (and getting squeezed played a huge part in the deciding inning).

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        • the fume says:

          i’m sorry, i didn’t know that pointing out facts was whining. i guess i should just ignore incompetence from now on because i guess that’s whining or hot diarrhea according to FoffTODD and Nick, clearly experts in this area.

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        • FoffTODD says:

          The Tigers hitters had MANY opportunities to put this game away. But they DIDN’T.

          Blame the umps all you want, but the Tigers lack of hitting and even worse baserunning did them in last night.

          The Tigers were up 2-1, with runners on the corners, and no outs. The second best hitting in the AL couldn’t score anymore runs. lol

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        • FoffTODD says:

          Bad calls are part of the game. They go both ways. They are independent of teams. They have no bias.

          You think the Tigers are the only team where calls didn’t go there way? It sure looks like it.

          The Tigers lost. Deal with it.

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        • Mike says:

          Who is saying there was a bias? The bad calls went against Detroit in game 6 when it comes to balls and strikes. I don’t think that’s debatable.

          The reality is that Bogaerts walking on strike three changed that inning, and you can’t honestly talk about what happened there without acknowledging that Scherzer got squeezed at the worst possible time. Maybe Ellsbury hits a bomb with only one runner on. Maybe they walk the next two and Pedroia hits the GS. I don’t know. I do know that I would have liked the umpire to do his job in that instance, though, so we could have found out what happened.

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        • FoffTODD says:

          “Hideous, biased.”

          This could have been a normal discussion but that second word was thrown in. Looks like whining to me.

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        • the fume says:

          the bad calls were biased against the tigers. clearly. i didn’t mean nor say that the ump did it intentionally.

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        • the fume says:

          And yes, I realize that questionable bullpen use, base-running, hitting, etc. all took place during the series. that doesn’t change the fact that they got hosed prior to referenced at-bat, got hosed during the rest of the biggest game. And yes the fact that they got hosed doesn’t mean they would have won the game or the series. No need to be so defensive, as if someone pointing out something unfair somehow invalidates the win.

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        • E-Dub says:

          One call doesn’t cost you a series, and a lot of this discussion is hindsight, but I was amazed at the time that the presumptive CY winner lost out to a player with 50 regular season PA to his name on a borderline call. Bogaerts is a phenomenal player, and had shown an excellent eye to that point, but it was still bemusing. And lest we forget, Iassogna also brought us the comically bad “neighborhood” call in Game 4 (also coincidentally in favor of BOS), so he had a rough LCS. The difference between the two is that one was followed by DET runs in a game they won and the other was followed by BOS runs in a game BOS won. Equally terrible calls for those of us without a dog in the fight besides the desire for clean officiating that doesn’t adversely influence the events on the field.

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        • Guy says:

          It’s called pitch framing.

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        • Mister says:

          Look, I’d like to see machines replace umps, but I don’t think that means that these plots from Brooks should be taken as gospel. They’re probably good for saying whether or not a pitch crossed over the plate, but as far as high and low goes, that’s different for every player. So saying “clear strikes” and “clear balls” about a lot of these that the radar shows as borderline is placing too much confidence in the system.

          That said, here’s game 5:

          http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/zoneTrack.php?month=10&day=17&year=2013&game=gid_2013_10_17_bosmlb_detmlb_1%2F&prevGame=gid_2013_10_19_detmlb_bosmlb_1%2F&prevDate=1017

          I certainly thought Lester was getting squeezed during the game, particularly in the 1st inning. This plot is consistent with what I observed.

          I think that all we are saying here is home-field advantage in action. There has been work done that shows that home-field advantage is likely mostly due to umpires being psychologically influenced by the crowd and calling the game in the home team’s favor.

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      • Dan says:

        the strike zone map shows Detroit got clearly shafted compared to Boston in game 6 with the ball/strike calls and none was more impactful than Bogaerts “walk” in the 7th to set up the big inning.

        Could Detroit have overcome it? Sure. Did they? No.

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    • Chief Keef says:

      Yeah, go back and examine the missed calls in games 1-5.

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    • Colin says:

      Given the situation and the, in my opinion, obvious nature of the call, I thought it was probably the worst ball-strike decision of the series for sure.

      Clearly the Tigers got hosed big time on the zone in game 6. I have to wonder what of that is just randomness and what of that is the influence of Fenway.

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      • Trey says:

        Avila was setup for a pitch in and Scherzer missed his spot by a good 20 inches.. So even though it may have grazed the zone, Avila had to stab at it and the umpire will call that a ball 9 times out of 10.

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        • Bingo says:

          Bingo.

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        • Jonathan says:

          Yep. Even Scherzer admitted to that. Hell, it was his last batter anyway, if he thought it was that awful a decision, he’d have registered it with the ump.

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        • Colin says:

          I tend to think that Cy Young caliber pitchers who are dealing will tend to get the outside corner of the zone (in the zone as well and not the outside which they still tend to get) 9/10 whether or not the catcher had to stab it.

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        • BMacK says:

          A computer will make the correct call ~100% of the time while keeping the game fair.

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        • Jonathan says:

          Because computers are never wrong and there completely infallible.

          Whoops! Meant to say ‘they’re,’ looks like spellcheck missed it.

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        • NS says:

          No one said that. In fact, the person above you specifically said “~100%” instead of “100%”.

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      • Mike says:

        Well, you’ll have at least two more opportunities to study “the influence of Fenway” this season.

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    • The Party Bird says:

      Yes, the call was bs, and yes, it changed the complexion of the inning. But (and I say this as a Tigers fan) if the Tigers (and especially Fielder) weren’t so damn stupid on the bases the entire series has a different feel. Compare to the Red Sox, whose biggest baserunning gaffe of the whole series was Ellsbury barely getting caught stealing second.

      The Red Sox were sharper in the field too. Remember Fielder’s “scoop” of Iglesias’ throw in game 2? How about Cabrera’s error in game 5? Those were definitely game-changers.

      The umpire may have changed this game (and we’ll never know how it might have turned out if the really-surprisingly-patient Bogaerts is correctly rung up there), but the ump also didn’t throw a hanger to Victorino. He didn’t take out Smyly – the Tigers’ relief ace for crying out loud – after one batter in both “grand slam” games. The Tigers really were outplayed for the whole series in every aspect of the game except starting pitching. Damn, let’s look back and admire how awesome that rotation was, just in case Max gets traded in the offseason at his peak value.

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      • The Party Bird says:

        Not to mention the double plays, which the Red Sox turned at key moments and the Tigers, well…

        No disrespect to Iglesias, who is a freaking wizard.

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        • B N says:

          Iglesias looked like he was doing the job of 3 or 4 fielders at shortstop sometimes (Fly ball in the OF? Got this. Dribbler almost to the pitcher’s mound? No problem. Balls almost to the 3B line? Yup.). Unfortunately, with the defensive limitations of some of his fellow fielders, he needed to do the work of at least 5.

          If the Tigers didn’t have such good swing and miss stuff, their defense would be a real liability.

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    • chuckb says:

      You neglected to mention also that it probably wouldn’t have happened if Leyland hadn’t had his 4th best reliever in the game at the time.

      I’m sorry you were victimized by such a grievous injustice but it’s one that could have been managed if your manager understood the concept of leverage.

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  2. Judy says:

    Man, if that’s Prince Fielder desperately trying to do something, I can’t even imagine how it looks when he’s just sort of casually trying.

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    • Mike says:

      Yeah. Prince was hideously biased towards the Red Sox.

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    • Vince says:

      Ssshhhh! He’s very sensitive. We’re not supposed to notice that, while all hitters will struggle from time to time, not all hitters just start swinging at everything while doing so. We’re not supposed to point out that his “effort” at 1B had already cost the Tigers a game in this series. His half-assed exploits on the bases are none of our business. We have no cause to question his work ethic, despite the fact that even his pajama-like uniform can’t hide the fact that he’s never seen a gym that he couldn’t drive past without a thought.

      Well, Prince – Thanks to you, the season is over. Maybe by next spring, you will have found a fountain of give-a-f#@k.

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  3. Adam W. says:

    Victorino’s reaction was some Mickey Mouse stuff.

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    • Bryz says:

      Act like you’ve hit a go-ahead grand slam from an 0-2 count in a series-clinching game against a pitcher you struck out against the last time you faced him before!

      +45 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Aaron Trammell says:

        According to some people, each game should be treated with the same level of solemnity as your grandfather’s wake.

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        • B N says:

          I wasn’t aware they let you get “grandfather’s wake” drunk on the field. That sounds more likely to cause problems than excessive celebration.

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  4. George says:

    People complaining about the ump’s zone – you’re correct that Bogaerts should have been called out on strikes. But the fact is, until we go to a computerized strike zone, this will be a part of the game. Sometimes it goes the way of your team, sometimes it doesn’t. In an ideal world, we would eliminate the imperfections caused by having a human call balls and strikes, and have more precise, consistent results. But until that happens there will always be blown calls, and the ones that are blown in big spots like Bogaert’s AB will always be magnified. Tiger’s fans shouldn’t blame the ump – they should realize that umpires are people, who are not perfect, and get behind the automated strike zone movement.

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    • Colin says:

      Iglesias doesn’t botch the DP and it is a moot point. However, given the context, that was a HUGE blown strike call, especially because Scherzer was pulled immediately after.

      It only bothers me because I suspect, on some level to which I cannot be exactly sure, it had to do with where the game was being played.

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      • semperty says:

        Expecting Iglesias to turn that DP on Ellsbury is a bit ridiculous. Even with a smooth flip, that’s not even close to being a sure thing. 50/50 chance at best to get Ellsbury there.

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      • Mister says:

        Colin, I think you’re probably right that it had a lot to do with where the game was played, but that actually makes it bother me LESS. We know that home-field advantage exists, and we have a lot of evidence that says it’s mostly due to its influence on umps. So, yeah, until we go to automated strike zones, that homefield advantage is part of the game. All the more reason to win more regular season games. Which the Red Sox did, by a wide margin, in what is by far the toughest division in baseball.

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    • Mike says:

      “Part of the game” is just so stupid.

      The Tigers did a lot of things that hurt them. It’s a best of seven, so you can of course look back to multiple things over the previous five that they screwed up and cost them a game here and there. That doesn’t mean that there should be no mention of the strike zone last night just because “part of the game” kicked Scherzer in the groin a number of times last night, including in the inning that ended the Tigers’ season.

      Boston won the series. It’s over. Props to them. They were probably the better team, although it’s really close. That doesn’t mean that discussions like these are wrong. The umpire last night was atrocious for the Tigers. The data backs it up, and it’s part of the reason they lost.

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    • the fume says:

      I’ve been wanting to get rid of umpires on the field for a while. An automated system and somebody with a TV/DVR would be a lot better and a lot quicker. Human umpires have outlived their usefulness.

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  5. Colin says:

    I just assumed this was going to be about the two events that preceded the grand slam:

    1. Ump misses the strike on 3-2 to Bogaerts and issues him a walk instead of a strikeout with 2 down for Scherzer, Scherzer is promptly pulled.
    2. Iglesias botches what would be at least one out, possibly a double play to end the inning.

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  6. Colin says:

    Bottom line is the Tigers deserved to lose. We always down play the term “clutch” around here but the Tigers gave it some meaning last night, not so much with the bat but with the boneheaded decisions. Fielder’s belly flop, Jackson picked off, Iglesias botching a DP despite being perhaps the best fielder in the stadium. These are things that will lose you a game. Tigers choked this game away.

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  7. Z..... says:

    Literally only 1 person here mentioned it, and the rest just complained. Scherzer said himself that though that pitch was probably a strike to Boegarts, Avila was set up inside and he missed his spot badly. Avila had to reach across his body to receive the pitch, and most of the time, you arent going to get that call. I give Boegarts credit for laying off the pitch. it was a pretty good changeup regardless of where it was supposed to end up.

    I thought that inning was very similar to the 8th inning in Game 2. I was thinking about it when Scherzer came out of the game. I thought Scherzer should have at least got 1 more hitter. Then when Smyly came into the game, I thought about him staying in through Ortiz if it got that far, but thinking he may be in the game too early with Victorino and Pedroia in between Ellsbury and Ortiz. Then he came out of the game, and I was thinking about how if it gets to Ortiz, the same mistake was just made except this time without a suitable replacement to face him (Benoit as the closer was probably the best option at that point in Game 2). I determined that it probably should have been Scherzer or Veras (wouldnt go Al Al b/c of the likely raise in probability of a wild pitch) in at the time. Then seconds later, Victorino crushed that 0-2 curveball. Look, I’m a big fan of Jim Leyland. I think he is a man’s manager. I would personally want to have him manage my team. However, this is one time where I dont think he can be defended. He messed up a couple of times in this series, and allowed the Tigers biggest weakness cost them their season. If he had just made a couple of better decisions in timing, and the use of certain arms, this series easily could have ended up completely differently.

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    • Z..... says:

      Of course, the Tigers could have also not made baserunning mistakes and fundamental errors

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    • Colin says:

      Why is it on Scherzer hitting his spot perfectly for an ump to call a strike a strike?

      The ump is supposed to be able to call a strike a strike, period. It doesn’t matter if he missed his spot so long as it landed in the zone, and here, it was very clearly in the zone. Umps miss calls all the time, so this in a vacuum is not some kind of tragic occurrence. The magnitude of the situation made it a lot more painful for the Tigers than it otherwise would have been.

      Also, as someone mentioned above, this particular game went very much against the Tigers in terms of ball-strike decisions. 4 in the zone not called including the one to Bogaerts, 7 outside the zone called strikes for the Sox as opposed to 2 for the Tigers. The Tigers and their fans would have every right to feel aggrieved by the situation at least enough to complain about it a bit on a message board a day later. If it had happened the other way you would absolutely be hearing about it too, just from different people.

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      • Z..... says:

        Normally I get on the umpires more than anyone. I’m just saying that in this case, when a catcher is reaching across his body to receive a pitch, it kind of causes the umpire to be Jedi mind tricked into not realizing a pitch is a strike. It happens more than 9/10. I would either blame Scherzer for missing his spot, or Avila for getting crossed up as bad as he did and causing the umpire to not call it a strike. We talk about the importance of pitch framing all the time on umpire’s calls. I think this isnt much different

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        • the fume says:

          For me, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Especially since the same thing happened to Bogaerts earlier in the game. If he had a great game and then missed one, hey it’s a fluke, and it’s bad luck that it mattered. But to be consistently bad….it’s too bad that he couldn’t have had a better game and given the players a fair shake.

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        • BMacK says:

          Umpires know where the plate is at all times. That we accept the idea that catchers can move the strike zone by setting up inside or outside is ridiculous and the brooks “typical RHH/LHH strike zones” are perfect evidence of the need for robotic umpiring. I’m not sure why the umpire would use the movement of the catcher to judge where the ball passes in relation to the prism.

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        • Z..... says:

          @BMacK I absolutely agree with you. I’m just pointing out the excuse generally used. That doesnt make it right though.

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    • Tim says:

      You can’t say “good eye” to the hitter when he watches strike three go past. The hitter didn’t know the catcher set up inside and would therefore have to “stab” at the pitch, most likely causing the umpire to call any pitch to the outside corner a ball. If that pitch was called as it was supposed to be, Bogaerts struck out looking, instead the narrative says he showed excellent discipline.

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  8. nolan says:

    …Anyway, considering his home ballpark and his hit-by-pitch rate against RHPs, it makes a lot of sense for Victorino to switch to batting right-handed. Not a lot of players would make this kind of adjustment mid-season so kudos to Victorino for doing so.

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    • pft says:

      He had no choice, he was injured and simply could not hit LH. It worked well so he stayed with it. However, his inability to get out of the way on inside pitches batting RH against RHP’ers suggest a fate ala Tony C is in his future

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  9. JC A says:

    This has probably been looked at by those who study pitch framing, but I’d like to see how often balls are called strikes when pitchers hit targets without much catcher movement and how often strikes are called balls when the catcher must significantly move his mitt. We’ve tossed around the 9 out of 10 times an ump will call a strike a ball if the mitt has to move from 1 side of the plate to the other. It’d seem like sorting through pitch f/x for balls called strikes and strikes called balls could be done. Figuring out mitt movement could possibly be accomplished by sampling video.

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  10. Noah says:

    It was pretty amazing how the Tigers had ridiculously dominant pitching for the entirety of the series against the best offense in all of baseball yet still were unable to advance to the World Series.

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    • Jeff says:

      Tigers starters were so amazing that we kind of forgot that Boston’s are pretty darn good too.

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      • Catoblepas says:

        agreed, but to me, it was the bullpen that really shined for the Red Sox. Good starters + very good relief (1 run in 21 innings in the ALCS) apparently beats excellent starters + shaky relief (+/- a whole bunch of other stuff, like bellyflops and errors).

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    • Colin says:

      Tigers also didn’t hit at all. In particular, their two best hitters (aside from one Cabrera home run) didn’t hit at all. Hard to win when you don’t score very much.

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    • chuckb says:

      In the 4 CS games started by the 2 leagues’ Cy Young winners this season, their teams went 0-4. Pretty amazing.

      The Cardinals beat the Dodgers despite Greinke and Kershaw pitching 4 times and Wainwright pitching once.

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  11. Feeding the Abscess says:

    Thought it was going to be about the distance of the HR, myself.

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  12. ralph says:

    So here’s the thing about the not-strike-3 call on Boegarts. It’s well-documented how reliant the Tigers were on hitting and starting pitching during the regular season (as opposed to also getting quality baserunning and defensive contributions).

    With Miggy injured and Fielder not driving in a run the entire postseason, that meant that an even more disproportionate amount of Tiger fan playoff hope was invested in the starting pitching, perhaps no starter more than Scherzer (at least until Verlander Classic was able to make a couple appearances).

    So Scherzer missed his spot. He still ended up with a really well-placed pitch. It was called a ball. And right after that, Scherzer was removed and there went the presumably primary source of confidence for Tiger fans, because of a missed call.

    Which brings up the question — has Leyland said anything about whether he would have left Scherzer in to face Ellsbury if Scherzer gets the call? I think he might have. Maybe it would have been the wrong move.

    But I feel like pretty much everyone (with the possible exception of Red Sox fans — though it’s very debatable without hindsight) would have preferred to see Scherzer stay in the game for at least a couple more batters, because it’s just more fun to see an ace try to get through these situations than a solid reliever.

    And for me as a Tiger fan, while I foolishly thought the bullpen would likely handle the 7th inning, if not more, that ball four call approximated the feeling those cartoon characters must have when all of a sudden they realize that the solid ground they thought were running on is actually air, and they immediately plummet to the ground below.

    It was like Dan Iassogna decided to tell all the Tiger fans out there, “Oh, you thought that with an injured Cabrera you could at least count on your starting pitching? Well, let me pull that leg out from under you, too.”

    (And then of course it was like fate decided to tell all Tiger fans out there, “Oh, you figured you still had defense from Jose Iglesias? Well, let me pull that leg out from under you, too. Wait, how many legs do you have again?”

    Of course the missed call didn’t lose the series by itself, but it’s a hell of a thing to wonder about.

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    • Colin says:

      Missed call didn’t lose the series clearly, but the chain reaction is caused was pretty substantial. Had Scherzer received the strike 3 call I think Leyland would have left him in with only one more out to get.

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      • Z..... says:

        as I said in an above comment, I personally felt he should have left him in regardless of the call

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        • Myran says:

          If he’s missing his spots by 20 inches regardless of whether the call was a strike or a ball, he’s probably a bit tired.

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      • Hendu for Kutch says:

        It’s entirely possible that Leyland would have noticed that Scherzer badly missed his spot and pulled him, even if Bogaerts had been rung up. Remember, Ellsbury had laced a hit off him earlier, as well.

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      • chuckb says:

        Why are all the Tigers’ fans here just assuming that Scherzer, after having thrown 100 pitches and going through the order 3 times, would have necessarily been better than the relievers that were used?

        And if he was necessarily better than the relievers used, why didn’t Leyland stick with Scherzer? The pitch was no different whether it was called a ball or a strike. And why did Leyland choose his 4th best reliever in such a high leverage situation?

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        • ralph says:

          Well, I explicitly said that leaving Scherzer in might have been the wrong call. And I also said that I wasn’t sure if Red Sox fans would’ve preferred Scherzer or Smyly vs Ellsbury. It’s a tough call. All I know is I’m much more frustrated by the bullpen blowing it than if Scherzer had blown it.

          That being said, if Bogaerts gets rung up there, 1st base is still open which would have given Scherzer a little more latitude as to how he approaches Ellsbury. And with that latitude, plus Victorino and Pedroia after that, maybe Leyland leaves him in to see what happens, especially since it might be a better idea to save Smyly for Ortiz.

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  13. Cybo says:

    Leyland sucks. High school teams play better fundamental baseball then the Tigers do and that’s on the coach. They will never win a WS with Leyland at the helm.

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  14. Rippers says:

    Highlight of the game: A mammoth beached Whale at Third Base.

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