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Sending Gordon

I’ve got a bigger piece on the World Series on SportsWorld here … but let’s take a minute to tackle the Alex Gordon hold. There has been a lot of talk about the Royals holding up Gordon with two outs in the ninth inning after the Giants chased and booted the ball around for a while. That’s what you do when a team comes so close. You argue about stuff like holding Alex Gordon at third on a two-base error.

There’s this thing about hindsight, and it probably has a scientific name that I should know but I don’t. When looking back at something that didn’t work— anything that didn’t work — you can eliminate one of the possibilities because, well, you KNOW that didn’t work.

I think of the famous “Let’s Make A Deal” puzzle (I guess it’s officially called The Monty Hall Problem . Remember that one? In a Let’s Make A Deal game, you are given the choice of three curtains. Behind one is a huge prize, like a new car. Let’s say you choose curtain No. 1. Monty Hall then says to you — OK, let’s look and see what’s behind curtain No. 3, and there is a goat chewing some grass or whatever booby prize they have. Then the host gives you a chance to stay with your original window or switch to curtain No. 2.

The math shows that you should switch in this situation. Why? Marilyn vos Savant famously tackled that back in 1990, and I wrote a post about that few years ago too, the short answer is that when you took No. 1 you had only a 33% chance of being right, and that percentage hasn’t changed. That means there’s a 66.6% percent chance the grand prize is behind No. 2.

But my point is this: You don’t get a second choice in real life. You choose once and that’s it. And the reveal — you chose poorly — becomes the reality. And so when you look back at something that didn’t work, you now know that anything else, even the stupidest possible choice, MIGHT have worked. The only thing we know for an absolute fact is that the choice made failed.

In this case, we know how the World Series ended. It ended with Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner entirely overmatching Royals catcher Salvador Perez, who hit a foul pop-up to end the game. That’s what happened, and it is unchangeable and, so, in the end, unjustifiable. If given the option to go back in time, the one thing you KNOW WILL NOT WORK is to let Perez hit.

It always entertains me when some coach or manager makes a move that doesn’t work and then grumps, “if I was given that exact same situation again, I’d do it again.” No you wouldn’t. It didn’t work. You’re telling me if time was reversed, and another chance was given, that Grady Little wouldn’t pull Pedro? Don Denkinger wouldn’t call Jorge Orta out? The Portland Trailblazers wouldn’t take Michael Jordan or Kevin Durant?

Of course they would, And if the Royals could go back in time, they would send Alex Gordon or insert Terrance Gore and ask him to steal home or pinch-hit Josh Willingham or do anything else because the only thing that is certain is that that they let Salvy hit and he chased high fastballs and popped up harmlessly.*

*MIke Moustakas was on deck. I wonder — really wonder — if Salvy had held up on those high pitches and walked, if Ned Yost would have let Moustakas hit against the lefty. I’m pretty confident that he would have.

But now, for a moment, let’s think about the alternative. Let’s think about what happens if the Royals send Gordon. Remember the play: Gordon flared a ball to left field. When he hit the ball, the question was not whether or not it was a triple or inside-the-park home run — it was whether the ball would actually drop in front of the outfielders. You can blame him for not tearing out of the box but this generally is how hitters run when they hit balls they are not sure will land for singles.

Then, the ball skipped by Gregor Blanco and Gordon took off for second. He saw the ball kicked around out and headed for third. Then he was held up by third base coach Mike Jirschele just as the ball was coming back to the infield.

Look at the above picture. Gordon is chugging into third, and Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford has the ball in his glove and is looking home. Now, I do think that this photo is A LITTLE deceptive because Gordon was slowing down, but it isn’t THAT deceiving. A major league shortstop had the baseball in throwing position when Gordon reached third base. To me: That’s an out. And it’s not a close out. It’s not a play at the plate. It’s a flat out.

What if Gordon had run full speed …

What if that had been Jarrod Dyson …

What if …

Nate Silver took a look at this and determined that if Gordon was even a 2-1 underdog to score, he should have tried. I concur. I think of it in Strat-o-Matic terms — on such plays you roll the 20-sided die. If the cards said he scored on a 1-6 roll with 7-20 being an out (that’s roughly 2-1 odds — 1-7 is also close) I send him.

Now, here’s where we come to how we view the game: To me there’s no way Alex Gordon scores on 1-6 on that play. No way. That would mean if that play happened nine times, Gordon would score on three of them. I don’t buy that all. A good throw gets him by so much he might have to stop and get in a rundown. A BAD throw gets him by enough that, from my viewpoint, it’s still not a very close play. From my perspective, it would have taken a crazy terrible throw or a complete meltdown by one of the sturdiest catchers in the game, Buster Posey, for that to be anything but a clear-cut out.

Now, you may disagree with that, you might say that from your angle the play would have been reasonably close, or you might say that you are not second-guessing because you KNEW Salvy was going to make an out before it happened so sending Gordon was clearly the only choice, or you might say that desperate times (like the Royals were in) demand desperate measures (like sending Alex Gordon to the plate even if he would only score 15 or 20 percent of the time.

And I’m not saying you’re wrong because you CANNOT be wrong. That’s the wonder of looking back. If anyone argues against sending Gordon, they are arguing for Salvy hitting, and we know that did not work. It’s like arguing for for Excite’s decision to not buy Google — maybe it was the sensible thing at the time but, you know, it’s kind of hard to argue for now.

I will say this, though: If the Jirsch HAD sent Gordon home and Gordon HAD been thrown out by something comical like 30 or 40 feet, that would have created one hundred times the second-guessing that’s going on now. It would have been one of the greatest blunders in sports history. And people would still be wondering what was behind those other curtains, the ones that would never be opened.

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131 Responses to Sending Gordon

  1. fissels says:

    My father used to say “if the dog didn’t stop to take a shit he would have caught the cat”

    • jerry blauw says:

      by looking at the photo, if jirsch sends him ,which he should have, Gordon is going to be PAST 3rd(he’s clearly hitting the brakes) at full speed w/ the shortstop FLATFOOTED,( no momentum). a good throw gets him and then there’s the collision. OMG, what a play that could have been. I don’t care about the posey rule (ironic), if that ball is jarred lose and called out or safe it’s the most controversial play in series history. denkinger’s call, ironically, being a close 2nd!

      • We’re not talking about little league where God knows what the throw is going to look like…. no, we’re talking a major league short stop from the cutoff position. He throws the runner out 19 out of 20 times. The other one time, something weird happens, like the catcher drops the ball or the shortstop air mails the catcher. Talking about Little League, the best shortstops make that play 75% of the time. I can honestly say my son at 12 years old would have made that play close to 90% of the time from a similar position on a little league field. I saw him do it many times. Not that he’s great. It’s just not a particularly difficult play for a good shortstop….. wait, that understates it too much. It’s a very simple play for a good shortstop….. let alone a good Major League shortstop.

        As an experienced 3rd base coach, you KNOW you want to send him if at all possible. There was just no way to professionally pull that trigger without KNOWING it had no chance. Wish all you want. Why not? It’s fun. Not realistic, but fun.

        • Chip S. says:

          “19 out of 20 times” is a pretty good guess. In his career as a ML SS, Brandon Crawford has recorded 1,377 assists and 61 errors. Sure, lots of those were tosses to 2B, but even if all his errors were throwing errors his success rate on throws would be about 95%.

        • nightfly says:

          Besides, Perez homered off Bumgarner in the first game. So in the back of Jirschele’s mind, if you send him and he’s thrown out by a mile, then you’ve taken the bat out of the hands of one of the very few guys who has actually dinged Bumgarner in this postseason. He could always run into a fat pitch thrown by a very tired guy on two days’ rest. The odds are actually better that Salvy brings Gordon home… or that Bumgarner skips one in and Gordon scores on a wild pitch.

  2. Dean Backes says:

    I am not upset that Alex was held at third. It was the correct thing to do. But had they sent him and he had been out by 40-feet as some say he would have been, I would not have had a problem with that either. I’m not saying this in hindsight. As soon as they held him, I knew the game was over. I have always lived on the positive side of sports and always believe a game is not over until it is over. But with two outs and Bumgarner on the mound having retired 14 straight after throwing a complete game shut out three days earlier…there was a better chance to score Alex on that play than for the Giants ace to make a mistake. 99-percent of the time this is the right call. But sometimes you just have to go for it no matter how ridiculous it seems. There was a better chance that one of the other Giants makes one more mistake in a gaf-filled play than for the ace to mess up.

    • You make a good point, but there is NO WAY a professional 3rd base coach, even if he was losing his mind under pressure, could have pulled that trigger and not looked like an idiot. It had no chance.

    • wogggs says:

      I completely agree. There was no chance Sal Perez was going to get a hit. There was at least a small chance Gordon could have scored, even though it probably would have taken a big mistake by the Giants.

    • lorax411 says:

      That is exactly right! Completely agree!

    • DJ MC says:

      Except that the Giants’ ace had JUST made a mistake, and the defense had turned it into a bigger one. He was in his fifth inning of work on two days’ rest. He was facing a guy who had been responsible for the only run he gave up all series.

      • Kris says:

        Right, and unless all these people think Salvador Perez is an honest-to-goodness .050 hitter against Bumgarner, it would be a bad choice to send Gordon. He isn’t going to have great chances of success, but it’s a lot better than the chances of one of the Giants fielders screwing up as royally as it would have required for Gordon to score.

  3. scottwuerz says:

    Imagine the Royals DID send the runner and that the throw beat him by 10 feet — and the umpire called the runner safe because of that crazy rule no one understands concerning home plate collisions. One bizarre call that the catcher didn’t leave the runner a lane could have ruined the entire World Series and severely damaged the integrity of the game. Still, I agree with you that it was the move the Royals had to make to hold the runner.

  4. What really should have happened was someone went up to Salvy and said “Listen asshole, no one has thrown a strike to you in 2 weeks. It’s not about to happen now. Don’t swing the f’ing bat.”

    • Matt says:

      Perez was hitting better than anyone else in the lineup in the World Series, but don’t let the facts get in the way of your emotions.

      • Annnnnndddd someone always asssbergers a comment. Good job letting the joke go over your head.

      • wogggs says:

        Except he’d been hurt in the first inning and could not really use his legs. His swings looked terrible because they were all arms.

      • Brad says:

        Matt is right. Salvy hit like crap the last three months of the season with an affinity for swinging at balls in the dirt, low and away. Sure he got the hit that won the wildcard, but watch the replay. He got lucky and made contact on a bad pitch, low and away, and somehow, terrible form and all, pulled it down the third base line. Call it what it was, a minor miracle.
        Bumgarner threw Salvy five pitches, none of which was within a foot of the strike zone. He swung at four of them.
        Holding Gordon was the right move. He looked gassed coming into third, Crawford has an excellent arm and you never want to run yourself out of an inning.
        There were really only three possible chances for the royals to tie this game: send willingham to hit for Salvy, get lucky with a wild pitch or Ned to get in Salvy’s face and tell him to not swing until bumgarner throws him a strike.
        I had more confidence in Moose hitting bumgarner.
        I was disappointed the royals lost, but hats off to the giants. Bumgarner, pence and Sandoval tore them a new one.
        The big play was the double play in the fourth. That goes thru you have first and third, no outs. Credit to Panik. He made a great play.

  5. sbmcmanus says:

    I think this whole premise is wrong, and doesn’t acknowledge the impact of randomness. When people say they would make the same decision again, even though it didn’t work out, they are correctly recognizing that there was at the time some probability of a decision working out or not working out and they are confident that they picked the decision that works the most often. The idea here is that if you go back in time you are back to where the future could work out or fail with randomness. If you roll a die and get a 6, the idea is that if you go back in time you may not necessarily get a 6 again. This is the right way to think about randomness because it avoids the trap of adjusting future decisions incorrectly based on past outcomes.

  6. Thomas says:

    There’s an equivocation in the “I’d do it again” statement that Joe’s relying on. Think of it this way: You can play the Monty Hall game right, make the switch as Joe and the math suggest you should, and you might lose. In fact, a third of the time you do lose. Baseball’s like that in some ways, except the odds are a ltitle harder to figure. Choosing to play a longer odds strategy isn’t the way to go just because things didn’t turn out like you’d hoped.

  7. John Nacca says:

    The more overriding thought here is…………with Aoki a career 0-for-18 hitter against Bumgarner, where in the world was Willingham (who kills lefties)?

    Ned Yost’s “structure”….in this case being his starting lineup and not wavering from substituting hitters….cost him A CHANCE at getting to MadBum.

    • Matt says:

      I understand what you’re saying here. Ned, however, did have a logical reason why he wasn’t doing this…if Willingham is in the game and then Billy gets on later, with Gore running, now Gore is your DH and cannot be replaced.

      Ned has to consider all possibilities. To him, the likelihood of Willingham getting on base over Aoki was much smaller than Butler getting on base and needing Willingham after him to take Gore’s position.

  8. EnzoHernandez11 says:

    But when a manager says he would do the same thing all over again, he’s not saying he would have knowingly lost the game. He’s saying that, given the information he had at the time, he made the right decision. And Jirschele *did* make the right decision. If we speculate that Gordon had a 15-20% chance of scoring (I agree that Silver has it pegged way too high), then you’ve got to figure that Perez is better than a .150 to .200 hitter, even against Bumgarner. Obviously, that’s not what Jirschele was thinking; he was thinking, “If I send him, he’s toast.” But it was still the right call.

    Had Gordon scored, we probably would have heard people second-guessing Bochy’s decision to leave Bumgarner in the game after four innings of work on two day’s rest, with Casilla ready to go.

    Monday-morning quarterback: best job in the world.

    • Well maybe…. but Bumgarner didn’t misplay the ball in centerfield, nor was he the guy backing up the play who kicked the ball around for a while in a panic. Criticizing Bochy would have been quite similar to the criticism of the 3rd base coach. Silly. Sometimes, hell, a lot of the time, the right decisions don’t work out. Bumgarner was overmatching everyone on the Royals, which we knew was going to happen because he overmatched them twice already. Bochy would have been a fool to take him out of the game. Now, there are a lot of fools who would have, Bochy’s just not one of them.

      If you do the right thing and it doesn’t work out, you should be able to live with it. There are a million examples. Eckersly against Gibson. Didn’t work out. Rivera against Gonzalez. Didn’t work out. But, I know that’s not the nature of the fans.

  9. BigSteve says:

    The unclosed parenthesis after the Monty Hall explanation is driving me crazy.)

  10. Consider this: Even if Gordon is out, the World Series ends on a dramatic play at the plate instead of a pop-up. I’d take that ending every time. Plus who knows? Maybe it’s Crawford’s worst throw of the season. Send him.

    • No you wouldn’t take that ending. If Gordon’s out by 30 feet…. and he would have been…. fans in KC would have been putting their shoes through their TVs and gnashed their teeth in agony. The 3rd base coach would have been summarily executed and his head put on a stick as a reminder to next year’s 3rd base coach not to ever send runners like that ever again.

  11. agmonaco says:

    “To me there’s no way Alex Gordon scores on 1-6 on that play.”

    Sure there is. I’d say (even in Game 7 of the WS, the pinnacle of the sport) there is AT LEAST a 30% chance that Crawford’s throw is wild or Posey can’t hang on to it. Add in the possibility of an unpredictable collision at the plate and I don’t think 1-in-3 is unreasonable.

    Of course, that’s not to say Jirschele made the wrong call.

    In fact – let’s be honest here – anyone in Jirschele’s position would have made the same call, even if Gordon’s chances of scoring were more like 50% or even 60%. Why? Human nature. If Jirschele sends Gordon and he’s thrown out, the season is over, all because of that one decision. The name “Jirschele” would be uttered by Royals fans the same way “Denkinger” is spat out by Cards fans. If he holds Gordon, well, at least you live to fight another at-bat.

    By holding Gordon, Jirschele may have technically reduced KC’s chances to win the game. But he completely ELIMINATED the chances that he would blamed for single-handedly losing the World Series. That’s now Perez’s burden to bear.

    • Anon21 says:

      “I’d say (even in Game 7 of the WS, the pinnacle of the sport) there is AT LEAST a 30% chance that Crawford’s throw is wild or Posey can’t hang on to it.”

      Okay, you can say that, but why should anyone listen? If Posey and Crawford were that terrible at making routine plays like that one, they wouldn’t have jobs.

    • “I’d say (even in Game 7 of the WS, the pinnacle of the sport) there is AT LEAST a 30% chance that Crawford’s throw is wild or Posey can’t hang on to it. ”

      WUT. Posey is a likely HOF catcher. From above, Crawford has 1377 assists & 61 errors. Good HS players make that play over 90% of the time. In the heat of battle Posey & Crawford aren’t thinking “Game 7”, they aren’t ‘thinking’ at all. They are on muscle memory executing a play they’ve been making since they were 8 years old.

      Jirsch would’ve been crucified if sends Gordon.

    • flcounselor says:

      Anyone can pull a number out of his ass. Just because you had “at least 30%” hiding up yours, it doesn’t mean a thing.

  12. thitchner says:

    Great post, Joe. I’d say anyone who reviews the evidence Jeff Sullivan presents and still thinks Gordon should have been sent just isn’t looking at it clearly.

  13. Mizzou Doug says:

    I would have sent Gordon. (Guess Jirschele didn’t hear me screaming at the tv to send him.) I agree a spectacular out (one of those “at least we tried”) at the plate would have capped off an exciting World Series. And, I would have pinch hit for Perez, who was obviously hurting all game after his leg was hit by the pitch. We have a back-up catcher for extra innings. I like Willingham’s discipline at the plate.

    • wogggs says:

      Absolutely correct.

    • The way that Perez at bat unfolded, virtually anyone would have been better. The only thing you could hope for was that Posey and Bumgarner would have outsmarted themselves and gone for the Eckersly to Gibson style backdoor slider.

      • Eckersley has always said he threw Gibson the only pitch he could’ve hit. Got cute, just should’ve given him three straight fastballs.

        • By the way, another example of this is the famous Dave Henderson HR off Donnie Moore that cost the Angels a trip to the World Series and setup the Red Sox for the Buckner miscue. Moore blew a couple of fastballs by Henderson, then decided to throw a splitter, which he hung. Henderson, like Gibson wasn’t going to be able to handle the fastball, but Moore and Eckersley got cute.

  14. Kirk Pellow says:

    As a fan, I would have loved the excitement of seeing Gordon barreling for home. I was screaming “GO! GO! GO!” at my tv. But,if I was the 3rd base coach and I liked my job…and I liked living in KC…it’s highly unlikely that I would’ve sent him. So, I can’t be upset that Gordon was held at 3rd.

    That said, I don’t understand why Gordon was held up on the bag. I would have thought the coach would have been positioned further down the line and called for a hard turn to at least draw a throw. Probably would not have changed the outcome, but a missed opportunity nonetheless.

    • He was held on the bag because if he rounded the bag, the shortstop had the ball and could have easily thrown to third and picked Gordon off. It’s a standard call in that situation to have the runner hold the bag. Imagine the shitstorm if he rounded the bag and was picked off third.

      • Kirk Pellow says:

        That’s actually the beauty of it. .. you hope the shortstop is daring enough to throw behind you… and if so you just keep going. I’ll take that chance over a bumgarner-salvy match up any day of the week

        • Again, you’re talking little league stuff. A Major League shortstop will hesitate for a second and make the runner commit. Then he either picks him off 3rd or nails him trying to dash home. Rounding third widely in that situation is running into an out that ends the World Series. That would be inexcusable. The professional 3rd base coach handled the decision making flawlessly on that play. Knowing that Salvador Perez followed up by swinging at a bunch of bad pitches and popping out causes fans to hope and wish to go back in time & somehow believe that some sort of aggressive baserunning decision just may have tied the game. I realize that these fan posts are fun & we can wish for whatever we want. But don’t fool yourself into thinking the 3rd base coach could have done anything differently to alter the outcome. It may have altered the outcome in that Perez would have never come to bat, but that’s about it.

          The only valid complaint I’ve heard is that Gordon could have/should have been running full tilt from the time he hit the ball. If that happened, and Gordon was 15-20 feet farther in his trip around the bases, then I believe you’re up to a 50/50 shot that may have been worth trying.

          • Bob in VA says:

            You are absolutely correct, Gordon had NO chance. In defense of his hesitation at first, he correctly expected the ball to be played properly in the outfield. You round first, you don’t go two-thirds of the way to second and get picked off at first or something.

            While we are wishing, let’s wish for another good year. This was magic. And, perhaps, let’s wish for Salvy to learn the strike zone…but that might be too much to wish for.

  15. Mark says:

    Joe, I agree 100%. Here’s another good analysis from Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs:

  16. Bud Selig and Joe Torre are sitting in their offices right now thanking god that they didn’t send Gordon and the Posey Rule didn’t decide the outcome of the World Series.

  17. Faye Schlift says:

    Ahhh, a Marilyn Vos Savant reference. i remember reading that she had the world’s highest I.Q. Something like 200. So i take the test and the score comes back 282. Man, i’m telling all my friends and family. I mock my teachers who underestimated me. It was great. Until someone pointed out it was the SAT test.

  18. Wouldn’t it be ironic if there was a play at the plate and the collision rule came into play, considering the collision with Posey a few years ago is part of what prompted the rule?

  19. ThisOneCounts says:

    This play is a classic example of something happening that NOONE could have ever anticipated. First Blano has to misplay the ball and let it skip past him. Right there is a cardinal error. With two outs and a one run game Blanco either has to make a superman effort to catch that ball or to not allow it past him. One or the other and he failed at both. Second the left fielder has to boot the ball on the warning track. What are the odds of these two errors happening in the bottom of the ninth of the 7th game of the world series with two outs and in a one run game?

    No one could possibly imagine this happening. Gordon did not. Neither did the 3rd base coach.
    Should they have anticipated it? I suppose if Michael Jordan had been a baseball player (oh wait he was) he would have considered it happening and he would have made it home.

    As for letting Perez bat I suppose he was the Royals best option. One has to figure that if he had walked Dyson is going to come in and run and then the winning run is one base! So Perez, or whomever is at bat is going to get a pitch to hit. But then Perez clearly was swinging at borderline pitches so he did not have at-bat he and the Royals would have hoped for.

    What I do know is that was a great game-7. The first 4 innings were a good chess-match of each team trying to get the advantage on the other. The last 4 2/3 innings was a pitching masterpiece. Then there was the last out which out of the blue became one of the most pressure filled outs in the history of the world series. Wow!

    • flcounselor says:

      Perez walked 22 times in 606 plate appearances, and ten of those were in April when he still remembered he was supposed to be patient.

      He only walked a grand total of THREE times after the All-Star break this year.

      There was a better chance that if Gordon had been sent the ball might have stuck in the bars of Posey’s catcher’s mask, than there was of Sakvador Perez taking a walk.

  20. JCO_33 says:

    They got to the Series making the unconventional seem like hard nosed baseball. #THATSWHATSPEEDDO…

    Win or lose the same way you got there. Speed and guts.

  21. J Hench says:

    Two things to add –

    1) Of course as FANS we want to see Gordon trying for home. That’s the most exciting play in baseball, right there and what a great way to end it. Heck, we’d probably want to see guys running all the time, make it like little league baseball – that’s much more exciting. People loved it after Billy Butler stole a base, too.

    But for anyone trying to actually win the game, as opposed to making for an incredible, made for the movies climax, sending Gordon was a low percentage play.

    2) Of course, Salvy batting was a low percentage play, too. But don’t forget that he looked equally ugly batting against the A’s, until he snuck in the game-winning hit. And he was the only one who had remotely touched Bumgarner in the series. I know he was hobbled, but he would have been a great narrative too. Of course, narrative doesn’t dictate the outcome of a game any more than playing the best odds dictates the outcome – sometimes, both the narrative and the odds lose.

  22. Dave Glass says:

    Can’t argue your point Joe, but I wish they’d sent him for 1 simple reason: Safe or out, that was going to be one of the top-5 most memorable moments in a WS,…because either way, it was going to be a major error.

    1.) He gets sent and is gunned down – people talk about the boneheaded decision to send him forever. How could he do that? Out by 40 feet, with the WS on the line!

    2.) He gets sent and makes it. This can ONLY happen in the case of a horrid throw or a bad play by Posey.If the Royals would have gone on to win (no sure thing, as their main bullpen weapons were spent and Bochy had all of his available) Blanco and whoever made the final error would have been infamous.

  23. Randy says:

    Good post and the first serious discussion I’ve read about sending Gordon. Like others, I was screaming for him to head for home. Why?

    1. There are 2 outs so another base hit, not a sac fly will be needed to score him from third.
    2. Two outfielders had already misplayed the ball which creates a heightened sense of confusion and pressure on the defense.
    3. Three things have to work to get him out: a good (not necessarily perfect) throw, a catch and a good tag.
    4. The crowd is screaming like wild banshees.
    5. Madison Baumgarner is on the mound and pitching lights-out.
    6. It’s the bottom of the ninth in the seventh game of the World Series!

  24. Michael Grimaldi says:

    Ned addressed this in his season-closer newsier on Thursday. He said he recalled a game when he was with the Braves where a similar situation occurred, and the guy was sent with good odds — the field was wet, or something like that — was out by 20 feet. And Ned knew it as soon as the guy rounded the bag. He said that on Wednesday that the ball was in the infielder’s glove when Gordo hit the bag. Ned said that even if the throw was off 10-15 feet, Gordo would’ve been out.

    Other thing I heard was that there has never been a WS in which the last out was made on a runner at the plate.

    Stopping the runner with Salvy coming up was the right call, in my opinion. Batting Salvy — or more accurately, coaching Salvy how to approach the AB — is another question. He had homered against MadBum earlier in the series — the only such score in the postseason, I think I heard — But he had two things going against him: He’d been hit in the leg earlier in the game and was visibly affected. More importantly, since the All Star break, he’s been known (by regular KC fans, anyway) to be a batter who will swing at pitches out of the strike zone. The strategy I would have recommended is that Salvy bats and takes everything up to two strikes. The Giants must’ve known what regular KC fans knew — he swings at pitches out of the strike zone. Most pitches in that at-bat were. i think he would’ve walked, or he would’ve gotten something to hit with two strikes.

    I’m thinking Salvy gets a lot of batting cage time this winter.

    • Ed says:

      Joe touched on this a little, but the analysis of this play/ decision should start earlier. This is not to indict Alex Gordon as a player, but there were 3 base running problems before the moment of truth on sending him:

      1) he did not run full speed out of the box and was way late accelerating when the ball got by Blanco

      2) he stumbled a little around 2nd which cost him some time

      3) for some inexplicable reason, looked behind him towards the end of the play and decelerated as he approached 3rd instead of running full speed and picking up Jirschele.for the call

      At that point, yes Jirschele had no choice but to stop him. But it could have been much different if he had run the whole thing out with as they say, “his hair on fire”.

      • mark says:

        You’re absolutely right about the baserunning issues.
        I can’t resist bringing up the two most polarizing baseball players on this blog, but if either Pete Rose (whom I irrationally hate) or Derek Jeter (whom I irrationally love) had been the hitter, they score. And it has nothing to do with speed. They both always ran hard out of the box and paid attention to the under-appreciated skill of running the bases.

        • Jeff says:

          Go watch the replay of Pete Rose running slowly out of the box on hit 4192. He hustled after he saw there was going to be a play. Not always out of the box.

          • mark says:

            Last thing I want to do is end up in a debate where I’m on Rose’s side, but I just looked and there didn’t seem to be a play on his 4192 hit. It was a lean hit to left field. And he ran reasonably fast out of the box. Was it maybe 4191 you’re thinking of? I’m not gonna chase it down, and I’m not all that invested in this, because, as I said in my post, I irrationally hate Rose. I would find it pleasingly ironic if he didn’t run properly on his record breaking hit, but I’m just not seeing it.

    • Brad says:

      Correct. The giants absolutely knew about salvys love of pitches off the plate. Every team in the AL knows. All he saw in August and September were balls in the dirt, low and away. And he swung at most of them. I don’t know what his batting average was after the all star break, but I’d wager it was less than his weight.
      The bad decision was not to send Gordon or hold him, it was not sending willingham to hit for Perez.
      Imagine that narrative: last career at bat for willingham and he delivers the hit that ties (or wins) the series.

  25. Chris says:

    Personally, I would have loved to see the World Series come down to a play at the plate, but even while watching that play unfold it seemed pretty clear Gordon would have been out by quite a large margin.

  26. Don says:

    Great article as usual, but most missed a point made in paragraph 10. A point that drives me nuts (no disrespect to A Gordon), is that 99 % of big leaguers are not busting their butt out of the box on a ball hit out of the infield, regardless if it is in a game in mid-May or game 7 of the World Series. What would have the picture looked like then as Gordon approached 3rd base? Just like Oscar Taveras’ career, we will never know.

    • Yes. In the 7th game of a World Series too. Jason Heyward is one player who does bust it every time. Put him running instead of Gordon and its a standup inside the park HR. The reason players don’t do it is that it hardly ever pays off. But when you do bust out of the box, a little bobble is always an extra base. I agree. We should see that kind of hustle all the time.

  27. aletheist says:

    The comment above about a “made for the movies climax” made me realize that two elements from the conclusion of “A League of Their Own” factored into the Game 7 denouement–running home to score after circling the bases when the ball was already in the infield upon reaching third, and not being able to lay off high pitches but somehow connecting with one. Unfortunately, neither outcome from that script materialized in real life.

    Not one of Bumgarner’s pitches to Perez was actually in the strike zone. Not one! Oh, the irony if Salvy, of all people, had drawn a walk in that situation. And I agree with Joe that Yost would then have let Moustakas hit, rather than sending up Willingham.

    Here is my World Series summary: The Royals scored an incredible 18 runs in 17-1/3 innings against the Giants’ three other starters, and a respectable 8 runs in 22-2/3 innings against their solid bullpen; but they only managed 1 run in 21 innings against Bumgarner. That may be the closest thing possible to one player winning the whole thing by himself.

  28. German Andrade says:

    The Giants and Royals play in the Cactus League in spring training. Couldn’t they just arrange a replay of this (result doesn’t change anything), sell tickets to the event (profits for charity) and see how it turns out for 5 repetitions?

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  29. Tad says:

    I can’t argue with your logic Joe but then nothing about this past Royals’ season was logical.
    They fell behind the Tigers by 7 twice. In the last week the Tigers roasted them.
    They were down 4 late against the As and came back. They won three or four games in extra innings in a row and when they finished they’d swept the Angels and Orioles.
    The ran like crazy. They were dead last in HRs and walks but they were also last in strike-outs.
    People said they didn’t have a real start. But all they did was win.
    They lost 7-1 to the Giants in game 1 and as their critics laughed at their ‘little league offense’ they returned the favor with a 7-2 win in the second. They jumped up 2-1 and looked on their way to 3-1 before getting bounced 11-4. They countered a 5-0 loss with a 10-0 win.
    Nothing was logical.
    The Royals had an answer for everything except Madison Bumgarner and then in the 9th, Alex Gordon, the Royal who had done as much to thrill the fans as anyone, is streaking toward 3rd while the Giants kick around the ball. Yea Crawford had the ball but crazy things had happened to the Royals since that playoff game against Oakland. No one wanted it more than Alex.
    I would have sent him and watched him kick the ball away from Posey.
    What better finish than Gordo scoring on a single with a two-base error and a gutty play.

    I can almost feel Joe’s blog about it.

  30. It’s funny how our perceptions of the even differ. I wrote a piece on my blog yesterday arguing the exact opposite of what Pos said: “Personally, I would have sent Gordon. Even if the chance of him scoring is 30% or so (that’s 1-6 in Strat-O-Matic terms which I feel is a reasonable estimate), I send him.”

    • There is no way major league players like Crawford & esp Posey screw up a fairly routine play like that 30% of the time.

      • Jeff says:

        I don’t get why this is called a fairly routine play. Crawford was much farther out than a typical cut and it was after two horrific misplays in the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs in Game 7 of the world series. He was rushed, everyone on edge. It isn’t a throw he normally makes. That is the entire point of the “possibly send him” argument. This isn’t a ground ball to Crawford to throw to first. This is a totally unusual situation. You know what was fairly routine? Bumgarner pitching to Salvy. We had just seen that routine, many times over.

  31. Is it wrong that I am giddy every time Joe mentions Strat?

  32. lsuzuki says:

    The question I kept asking was why someone didn’t PH for Salvy. Though I’m not familiar enough with the Royals bench, nor do I remember who’d been used by then (if anyone had), to know whether this was even a good option.

  33. Mark Daniel says:

    As a non-Royals and non-Giants fan, I was positive that the Blanco/Perez outfield flub, putting Gordon at 3rd, was going to go down in history as one of the biggest blunders in baseball history alongside Bill Buckner. It seemed cosmic when that happened. It was like the Baseball Gods were yanking the rug out from under the Giants. I still can’t believe Salvador Perez made the final out. It’s been a while since we’ve had an honest to goodness baseball goat of historic proportions. I’m thinking Grady Little or Steve Bartman as the most recent.

  34. Dear Royals fans, you had an incredible season. You lost because Bumgarner went supernova for three games (surprising no one) & the Giants bats caught fire for another game (also no surprise).

    Yost didn’t play every % perfectly but Bochy prob didn’t either and he was in his 4th WS. Gordon would’ve been out by 20 feet, ump wouldn’t even dream of calling Posey rule there (amazing tho, if it HAD been called…on Posey), and Jirsch would be run out of KC on a rail.

    Lets do it again next year.


    A Giants fan

  35. anon says:

    Let’s keep one other thing in mind: let’s say the 1 in 20 happens and Gordon scores( I think it’s worse odds than that but let’s go with 5%). That still doesn’t guarantee a win, that only ties the score. So sending Gordon was trying for a 5% chance at what would have then been essentially a 50% chance of winning. Yes the math is a little different than that and if someone wants to post it they can, but the point is sending Gordon would have been an unbelievably bad decision.

    In that sense, it’s similar to Buckner’s error in ’86. That was a tie game, Buckner makes the play and the Sox still might have lost.

    • nightfly says:

      True. It would have been tough for Buckner to beat Mookie to the bag, so the inning could well have just gone on, 1st and 3rd, two out. Besides, the true goat is Gedman on the passed ball (no way that should have been a WP).

  36. Joe says:

    I only regret that he didn’t send him because the worst case scenario would have been one of the 5 most exciting plays in the history of baseball and if it was close – out or safe – we would talk about the play for the next 100 years. As it stands, no one will remember it in 5 years. It’s also consistent with the crazy aggressive style the team had shown all post-season. If he rounds third the movie could fade to black as he goes down the baseline and the ball sails in from Crawford. The ultimate ending would have been the footnote. As a Royals fan, I think we were losing either way. As a baseball fan, I feel deprived of something that would have made a memorable series legendary.

    • You’re right, getting thrown out by 30 feet would have been a World Series first.

      • Joe says:

        You may be right. But when I watch the video, I see Gordon being held up as he rounds second. He even turns over his shoulder to look back at the ball. If he’s getting the windmill from the 3B coach, and doesn’t slow down, he would’ve been 2 steps past third when Crawford turns. Still probably out, but would’ve been much closer.

        Ah well, at least I’ll be able to have an interesting argument (any argument) related the the royals. This is much more interesting than whether Hipalito Pichardo should be our opening day starter.

  37. David in Toledo says:

    If we stipulate that poor crippled Perez isn’t going to get a hit and Gore won’t steal home, the Royals have two chances left. Crawford can throw home wildly, or Bumgarner will throw a wild pitch. Neither is at all likely, but by not sending the runner, you stay alive for a few more minutes.

  38. mvandermast says:

    >It always entertains me when some coach or manager makes a move that doesn’t work and then grumps, “if I was given that exact same situation again, I’d do it again.” No you wouldn’t. It didn’t work.

    Yes, but…”the exact same situation” implies “with the exact same amount of knowledge about outcomes that I had the first time.” If he had additional knowledge during the repeat of the otherwise-identical situation, it would be a different situation.

    Still a year for the Royals to be proud of. And as an NL fan, I’m glad this was one year that the All-Star game *didn’t* matter…or at least, didn’t matter in any way that matters.

  39. Lootch says:

    Just keep in mind that Bumgarner let up one run in the World Series…a home run…to Perez.
    Imagine if he could have made it two?
    The overturned cars would still be smoldering from that walk-off HR.

  40. Bob in Virginia Beach says:

    OK, here’s my scenario, and it is inspired by an imaginative, athletic play made by George Brett in an All Star game. Brett is playing third, there is a man on third. Grounder to Brett who doesn’t know if he has a play at first so he makes a humungous fake to first, the runner strays off third and Brett dives back and tags him. Only time in my life I have seen that work.

    Here it is: Gordon fakes an injury arriving at third to the point he can’t continue and is replaced by one of the burners, Gore probably. This maintains the element of surprise. You have a lefty who can’t see the very first move from third, one strike on Perez so you know the next pitch will be way outside, high or whatever making a tag difficult and Perez is big enough as a righty to block Posey’s view.

    You have the possibility of a balk.

    Not great odds, but something? I tried to find out how many times someone stole home this season, and I couldn’t, but not many? Did Jackie Robinson hold the record for career stealing home successes?

    BTW, the idea of sending Gordon is just ludicrous.

    • Bob in Virginia Beach says:

      Oh, and in addition, Perez was gimpy and had zero chance of hitting anything Bumgarner sent up there, mistake or not.

      So proud to watch this bunch of Royals play ball. From a 30-year fan…or more.

    • dshorwich says:

      Bob in Virginia Beach:

      There were 8 steals of home this season.

      Four were part of a delayed double steal (Chris Young, Eric Campbell, Adam Jones, Carl Crawford).

      One happened when the runner on first was picked off and got caught in a rundown (Mike Napoli).

      Another occurred when the runner on first stopped halfway on a steal attempt and got in a rundown (Carlos Beltran).

      One was a delayed steal on the catcher’s throw back to the pitcher (David Peralta).

      One was a delayed steal on the catcher’s pickoff throw to first (Jose Altuve).

      In other words, there wasn’t a single successful straight-up steal of home in the majors in 2014.

  41. Nick S. says:

    I don’t know if it’s “getting cute” so much as that it’s in every decent pitcher’s DNA to change pitches. Most of the time, if you keep throwing the same pitch again and again to a batter, that’ll bite you square in the ass. And sometimes the opposite is true.

  42. Nick S. says:

    This was supposed to be a reply to a post upstream. I’ll try it again.

  43. John Leavy says:

    Kansas City fans may remember the 1980 AL championship series. One of the big moments of that series came when third base coach Mike Ferraro waved Willie Randolph home, and Randolph was nailed on a close play after the Royals made two perfect throws.

    The results show that Ferraro was “wrong”, just as keeping Alex Gordon at third base was “wrong.” But in both cases, the third base coach made a logical, intelligent decision- a logical, intelligent decision that just didn’t work out.

    George Steinbrenner was furious, and immediately demanded that DIck Howser (the best manager the Yankees have had in my lifetime- he led the Yanks to 103 wins that year) fire Ferraro. To his credit, Howser told Steinbrenner to go jump in the lake. Whatever his faults, Dick Howser was both intensely loyal and completely unafraid of Steinbrenner (Steinbrenner regularly phoned his managers in the dugout during games- Howser was the one Yankees manager who’d blithely tell George “We’re busy” and hang up). As a result, Howser was fired at the end of the series.

    So, Royals fans, take consolation in this: you got your best manager AND your one World Series title in part due to a different decision by a third base coach.

  44. archtiger says:

    Once Gordon stopped, there were many ways to score from third base:

    Wild pitch
    Passed Ball
    Series of walks and/or hit batters
    Fielder’s choice
    Steal home

    These should be considered when trying to calculate the chance of the future plate appearances producing the run versus the slim possibility of a bad throw/catch.

  45. Mike says:

    Granted, Alex Gordon isn’t Enos Slaughter in the speed department, but watching Slaughter’s Mad Dash from Game 7 of the 1946 World Series is instructive. Slaughter is rounding 3rd as Pesky receives the ball (and the third photograph in the fangraphs post appears to show that Crawford was deeper in the outfield than Pesky). I agree that a good throw gets Gordon, but it might have been closer than generally assumed if Gordon is going full speed around 3rd. Anyone want to superimpose the positions of Gordon/Slaughter and Crawford/Pesky at the time each shortstop receives the ball?

    • Pesky wasn’t expecting Slaughter to try to score from first on a single. That’s a ver rare play and Pesky was caught off guard. Crawford was not going to be caught off guard on this play. He caught the cutoff and wheeled, ready to throw home. Good try, but not the same type of play.

  46. David says:

    My only comment is this, I saw way more Royals not run hard to first because of apparent automatic outs than I should have. Bad throws do happen. Running hard might have reduced the distance we are talking about by maybe 15-20′, not sure on the exact distance, but know it would have been less.

  47. Nick S. says:

    I don’t know if it’s “getting cute” so much as that it’s in every decent pitcher’s DNA to change pitches. Most of the time, if you keep throwing the same pitch again and again to a batter, that’ll bite you square in the ass. And sometimes the opposite is true.

  48. Nick S. says:

    I don’t know why I can’t respond to individual posts, but I give up.

  49. Nick Spinelli says:

    As I watched the play, I was livid Jirschele didn’t send him. So., for me it’s not hindsight. The guy was timid the whole postseason. And, if the Giants nailed Gordon @ home. I would not have second guessed him.

  50. Nick Spinelli says:

    John, The Royals lost the 1980 Series to the Phillies in 6. I attended the first 2 in Philly and 3-5 in KC. Dickie Noles flipping Brett in game 4 changed the momentum. I was also @ the game w/ the triple relay nailing Randolph @ home. That produced the classic footage of Steinbrenner putting on his coat and ranting @ Gene Michaels. Too bad the asshole didn’t stoke out right there.

    • Bill Caffrey says:

      Of course John knows the Royals lost the 1980 WS. Howser was the Royals’ manager in 1985 when they won the WS. John’s point was that Howser may not have been the Royals’ manager then if Steinbrenner hadn’t fired him after the 1980 ALCS.

  51. nick says:

    Joe, good post. But my take is that it felt as if the baseball gods were like, “alright Royals, for crying out loud!…we got to you a home game in Game 7 of the freaking World Series. We thought you could do this. Fine, here’s a gift…we’re gonna let an Alex Gordon blooper roll to the wall, the ball and field will be let, so that will help us slip up the left-fielder. We’ll have him throw a short hop to the shortstop. He’s gonna have to double pump to ensure a good grip. He’ll be a nervous wreck and guide the ball to home, forcing it to dive short of the catcher, forcing to Posey to field a tough short-hop, allowing Gordon to slide away from the plate and drag his fingers”.

    If FELT like the moment for KC to have yet more magic happen. Bumgarner was NOT gonna throw Salvy a strike. And Salvy, like he’s done all postseason, was gonna swing at non-strikes. The best pitch he got was on his pop-up, which was a couple inches high.

    The game ended when Gordon was held up. DUMB decision.

  52. Nick Spinelli says:

    If they sent Gordon, and the relay guy double pumped, then Johnny Pesky would be off the hook!

  53. ThisOneCounts says:

    I think if Gordon is out by 20 feet it would be a rather pitiful way to end the World Series.

    Now if Gordon is out on a bang-bank play, like was Denny Doyle in game-6 of the 1975 series, then we have a new #1 for all-time most memorable play in World Series history.

  54. I don’t like to rag on players … But, good Lord, what a horrible at-bat by Perez. It was clear early in the sequence that Bumgarner was simply NOT going to take a chance with a breaking ball down, and risk a game-tying wild pitch. So Perez primarily only had to look for fastballs up, and yet, given that scenario, he chased four pitches that were nowhere the upper border of the strike zone.

  55. […] past few days.  As far as I can tell, there are three primary schools of thought on the subject.  One is championed by Joe Posnanski.  He argues that Jirschele clearly made the right decision to hold Gordon at third base —  […]

  56. Tampa Mike says:

    The second guess to me is why Sal was hitting there. He just wasn’t himself at the plate after getting drilled in the knee. His swing was all arms. Bumgarner was killing him the whole series on junk balls way out of the zone and getting him to chase. I feel like the Royals should have pitch hit for Perez in that situation.

  57. Jeff says:

    has anyone actually done an empirical look at plays made from where Crawford was at the plate? The “assist v error” thing is a red herring, how many of the errors and assists were from this spot at the plate? My general sense in all things is that results are much more uncertain than people tend to presume. This was not a typical play for Crawford, both because he was unusually far away from the plate, the Giants had been Bad News Bearsing it around, and it was the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs in the world series. I feel like there was some uncertainty about what might happen. It didn’t feel like it was a 90% play live.

    It also felt, at that moment, that the chance of anyone, especially Perez, getting a hit off Bumgarner was 10% or something absurdly low. That could certainly be recency bias and be wrong. But I was screaming “send him” because I felt like the chance of the Royals getting another hit was absurdly low, Crawford had a somewhat unusual throw to make and he and everyone else in the field might be rattled from the absurd misplays. Plus…it was a chance to make an iconic play.

    As others have noted, the problem I mostly had was that I didn’t feel that Jirschele was considering the “other side of the risk equation” or, what are the chances Sal gets a hit specifically here?

    In the end, I didn’t think either move was indefensible, and I agree with Joe’s general thesis that of course you only second guess the action that happened and didn’t work.

  58. Grgisme says:

    As a Giants fan I would have liked to see Gordon try and score. He’d have been out by 30 feet and I could have started my celebration 5 minutes sooner.

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  59. Bill says:

    The photo is a bit more misleading than Joe let’s on. Jirschele put his hands up to tell Gordon to stop at third when Gordon was about 30 feet from the bag. Gordon then turned his head to look into the outfield and started to slow down immediately.

    If Jirschele had been waiving him home, I think Gordon would have been at most 80 feet from home by the time Crawford got to the position he is in in the photo. And Gordon would have a full head of steam and the additional adrenaline rush you get when you realize you have a chance at an inside the park home run to tie up Game 7 of the World Series in the 9th innning. (We all know that feeling, right?)

    Now I don’t know if Gordon would have been safe or out had he gone home. But I don’t think he would have been out by all that much, even with a perfect throw.

  60. Shonepup says:

    Go Giants!!!

  61. Chris H says:

    I have coached a lot of third base – mostly little league, and I don’t in any way pretend that I have mastered the nuances of the job the way a major league coach has, or understand a tenth of the complexities of strategy. But in general, I would expect the approach to the job is to select one or two specific strategy points (e.g., runners first and third, less than two out, I’m sending the runner home on a ground ball), and to have a generalized sense of how aggressive you want to be – and then to react to the play as it unfolds.

    For specific strategy, with the bases empty and two out, what strategy is there to select? As for the generalized sense of aggression, I imagine it would have been, “very” – hits (or wild pitches) being few and far between. And if Jirschele is good at his job, part of that included knowing who the batter coming up next was and the batter after that, and their likelihood of reaching base – which might lead him to be “extremely very” aggressive.

    That isn’t to say that he couldn’t have judged things wrong – but in a crazy play that dramatically changed twice as it unfolded, I don’t think it’s reasonable to think Jirschele was over there at third thinking, “Well, Salvy’s coming up next, and he’s all arms when he swings, but he did hit that homer, and the Giants are suddenly playing like Chris H’s little leaguers so I the chances of Crawford choking are up a little bit, plus the noise from the crowd is really loud, so I think there’s a 30% chance he scores against a 20% chance Salvy reaches.” I not only think that’s not possible, I think even if he were able to think that way he’d just put himself in the weeds. The high percentage play for the third base coach is not to think about it being the ninth inning of the World Series, the same as that’s the best approach for Crawford. You set your aggressiveness and then react.

    And, the likelihood of Jirschele having to make that decision with that runner on that play is so low – really, you thought he was going to have to decide between a triple and an inside the park homer with Alex Gordon? – that it’s easy to think he wasn’t really considering the possibility. Well, the residue of design, or the key to luck is recognizing luck, or something, so maybe he should have. But even so, what “strategy” would you choose, other than a general sense of aggressiveness?

    So you might ask Jirschele, “down a run with two out in the ninth and Bumgarner pitching and Salvy up, how aggressive were you trying to be?” But everything else is just imagining that he should have been much smarter than it’s possible to be.

  62. David Berg says:

    One point I’d like to make is that Juan Perez threw the ball in from the wall, and didn’t exactly fire a laser, so Crawford had to take it in a very deep cutoff position. When a charging left fielder fields a ground ball basehit in that same spot (i.e. if he’s playing extremely shallow), and the runner has already rounded third (which Gordon would have if he’d been waved), it’s usually a close play at home. I mean, if the fielder has a cannon and the throw is right on the plate, then it’s not close. But Crawford’s arm is merely good, not great, and if he throws it a little up the first base line (or wherever) such that Posey has to move to catch it and then come back for a tag… runners score on plays like that all the time.

    If Gordon had smoked a triple off a tiring Bumgarner, then maybe you figure Salvy has a shot. But as it was, with Bumgarner allowing zero solid contact all night and not tiring at all, the chances of Perez driving in the run had to be the least likely possibility, just behind a pinch-running Gore stealing home. I’d rate Gordon’s chances of something like sliding around a tag after an imperfect one-hop throw as MUCH higher.

  63. David Berg says:

    I also felt like the Royals’ success this year included a certain attitude, aggressive bordering on reckless when it came to baserunning. If they were going to go down, it would have been more palatable to do it while going with their offensive forte (taking the extra base) as opposed to their biggest weakness (laying off balls out of the zone). So no, I don’t think the second-guessing of Jirschele would have been that vicious. If Posey gets the ball way ahead of Gordon, then Gordon runs Posey over, and even if Buster holds on, at least KC goes out playing exciting 2014 Royals baseball. I think fans would forgive Jirschele for that.

  64. Leslie Ryan says:

    It happened. It’s over. Move on. I’m still upset Donaldson didn’t play the line tighter against Perez in the Wild Card game but it’s said and done. Talk about it ’til you’re blue in the face. It’ll be like trying to convince Joe Outlaw Pete is a great song.

  65. Marc Schneider says:

    “It always entertains me when some coach or manager makes a move that doesn’t work and then grumps, “if I was given that exact same situation again, I’d do it again.” No you wouldn’t. It didn’t work.”

    Obviously, they wouldn’t do the same thing knowing the result. I think the point is that, given the exact same situation, without knowing how it came out, they would do the same thing. Ie, they are saying, I did not make a mistake, it just did not work out. I think that’s a perfectly reasonable argument. Sometimes, the right move doesn’t work out. (Although I think it would be a pretty big stretch to ever argue that Grady Little did the right thing.)

    I tend to agree with some of the commenters that it would not have been as easy a play as people seem to assume. Crawford was pretty deep and throwing to the plate is not something that shortstops do routinely-especially with two outs in the 7th game of the World Series. But it’s hard to second guess a coach for not sending the guy in that situation; I just don’t think you can take a chance like that. If it was Cain or someone, that’s a different story.

    But it reminds me a bit of a story I read about a Willie Mays comment after the 1962 World Series, when McCovey had lined out to end the game. Right before McCovey came up, Mays hit a ball down the right field line with an Alou (I think Matty) on first; Roger Maris cut the ball off and Alou stopped at third. Mays supposedly suggested-some years later I guess-that if he (Mays) had been on first, he would have scored-or at least tried-which suggests he would not have paid much attention to the third base coach. Of course, Mays was a lot faster than Gordon and a truly great baserunner. Of course, the difference is, in 1962, you had Willie McCovey coming up against a tiring Ralph Terry, not, with all due respect, Sal Perez.

    • And McCovey actually DID what the third base coach hoped he would do when he held Matty up — sent a savage line drive towards right field. Which is the only reason we don’t remember Whitey Lockman (the third base coach) with distaste. He did the right thing. It just didn’t work out.

  66. Tom Seck says:

    My original thought, before Salvy came to bat, was to have Gordone steal 3rd. You can’t put Gore at 3rd because in the majors, it’s nearly impossible (if not completely impossible) to steal home without surprise on your side and I had no confidence in Salvy’s ability to hit Bumgarner. I was also pretty sure he had a better chance of stealing home than scoring against that throw.
    With the benefit of time for research, I’m now confident I was right.
    This article: certainly overestimates the percentage of success (60% against lefties) but if at best he had a 30% of scoring from 3rd on his hit, and I put Salvy’s chances of a hit against Bumgardner much lower, it’s the move I would have made
    This article:
    exhaustively makes (the retrospectively intuitive) point that if you have at least a 34% success rate, attempting to home with 2 outs makes sense. Intuitively, you just have to have a better chance at success than the hitter has of hitting. So in this era, when stealing home is rare and unexpected and stealing home with 2 outs has better success rate than they hitter at the plate, it would be difficult to make a reasoned argument against it.

  67. […] Yesterday I discussed a great piece on Bill James written by Joe Posnanski, somebody I read consistently and try to emulate much of my more conceptual writing after. But Joe blogged today about the most discussed play of Wednesday’s Game 7 of the World Series and made a point that I vehemently disagree with. Here’s the story. […]

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