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Outfield Assist Decline?
Posted: 02 August 2009 10:10 PM   [ Ignore ]

Yesterday Tim McCarver was trying to make a point as to why outfield assists have been at an all-time low this decade.  He started to say something about the infield (or maybe it was the announcer), but was cut off because they were going to an advertisement.  Did he continue with that thought?  I can’t think of any reason other than McCarver making something up (or being guilty of faulty reasoning).  What is his theory, and is there anything to it?

Posted: 02 August 2009 11:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]

I heard that, and he did say infield, but I’m not sure what his point was. Brennaman (I think) suggested that nobody plays long toss anymore. The one recent exception, he said, was Steve Finley, who I don’t recall having an extraordinary arm or stockpiling assists, so I fail to see how that can really be the culprit. 

I think the high-offense, TTO baseball in this decade is the most likely culprit, as guys strike out more often, while baserunners may be less likely to take chances than they would in a lower run-scoring environment.

Either way, it was pretty interesting that outfield assists are lower this decade than any decade since the aughts or teens. Too bad they couldn’t really delve into it with more sensible theories (I’m sure there are other possible explanations), though I suppose that would be asking too much from Tim and Thom.

Posted: 03 August 2009 02:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It could be because outfielders do a better, quicker job of hitting cutoff men than they used to, but neither of those guys would entertain for one moment the idea that something had gotten better.

(I have no idea whether this is the case.)

Posted: 03 August 2009 01:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Maybe fewer runners are trying for extra bases.

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Then Rich Aurilia promptly hit into a double play.

Posted: 03 August 2009 09:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]

I haven’t seen the actual numbers so I don’t know if a statistician would cause it statistically significant or if it’s just a slight deviation.  I have a question, though.  If outfielders are hitting the cutoff man more often - does the assist only go to whoever was the person who actually threw it to the fielder who made the putout, or is it like hockey, where the last two players who touched the puck before a goal usually get assists?

Had it been earlier in the game I’m sure McCarver would have spent the rest of the game arguing in his defense.  It seems the more outrageous a theory he has the harder he tries to prove it (the same goes for Joe Morgan).  Sometimes I just want to watch a game and not hear the announcers try to come up with things to talk about between pitches.

Posted: 03 August 2009 09:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]

Sorry, submitted twice

Posted: 06 August 2009 02:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I didn’t know this until I got into playing with retrosheet files, but scorers can award 2 or more assists on a play.  Both the cutoff man and the OF get one on a runner thrown out.  You can really pile up the assists on rundown plays.

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Then Rich Aurilia promptly hit into a double play.

Posted: 06 August 2009 07:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]

You cannot get more than one assist on a rundown, even if you touch the ball twice wiout recording a putout.

Posted: 07 August 2009 04:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]

I think AROM was talking about the number of guys who could get assists on a rundown play, not the idea that one guy could get more than one assist.