October 11, 2018

As Tim McCarver Once Said, "Baseball Is A Game Of Inch"

Sam Miller, ESPN:
Here's one way it could have gone differently: Eduardo Nunez was playing 115 feet from home plate. The average third baseman this year, with two strikes on Gleyber Torres, played 117 feet deep.

What if Eduardo Nunez was playing 117 feet from home plate? What if he'd been playing even 116 feet away, as he had on the 1-1 pitch to Torres (but not the 0-0, 0-1 or 1-2 pitches)? The play at first would have been close. Nunez, if he didn't barehand it, if he didn't eat it, if he didn't grip it poorly and throw it down the right-field line, most likely would have made a throw to first that Torres would have narrowly beaten out. The umpire might still have called Torres out, and the Boston Red Sox might still have celebrated cautiously around the mound, but in the 116-feet-deep scenario, the New York Yankees would have won the challenge and the call would have been overturned. The game would have gone on.

"Believe me," Xander Bogaerts said after Tuesday night's 4-3 American League Division Series-clinching victory for the Red Sox, "I've played third base, and I know that play could have gone either way and it could have been a different ballgame."

The one thing we can say with certainty is that Andrew McCutchen vs. Craig Kimbrel -- the at-bat that would have followed Torres' -- would have been an all-time moment. At The Baseball Gauge, Dan Hirsch has calculated the importance of every play in postseason history ... Had McCutchen batted with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning Tuesday night, it would have been ... the eighth biggest Red Sox-Yankees moment in postseason history. ...

[But s]uch calculations can't include the specifics of each situation. They .. don't include Kimbrel's sweat-drenched forearms, or the three mound visits the Red Sox had already used that inning, or his erratic fastball and the fact that he was throwing twice as many curveballs as he usually does. Joe Kelly warming in the bullpen -- a six-word novel in itself -- isn't part of that calculation. The situation itself had become one of the least certain moments of Craig Kimbrel's career.
If Nunez had been playing even one step back - or his reaction to the batted ball had been a small fraction of a second slower - Torres would have been safe at first base. Would the Yankees have then completed their comeback? ... Thankfully, we will never know.

Kimbrel in 2018
          GMS    ERA    IP    H   RA   BB    K    PA    WHIP
1st Half   41   1.77   40.2  20    8   16   62   156   0.885 
2nd Half   22   4.57   21.2  11   11   15   34    91   1.200
In the "second half", Kimbrel faced 65 fewer batters, but issued nearly the same number of walks. ... To say nothing of allowing three additional runs.
                         IP   H  RA  BB    K
July -      11 games   11.2   8   4   6   15
August -     8 games    8.0   6   4   6   17
September - 10 games    9.1   1   4   6   15

After 1-0 count - 108 PA - .129/.315/.329 -  .644 OPS
After 2-0 count -  38 PA - .273/.579/.773 - 1.352 OPS

No comments: