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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Yu Darvish Loses Perfect Game On Error, Sparks Argument On MLB Network

Listens…pops batch of Sternbach’s finest.

The Rangers’ official scoring decision of an error—charged to Texas right fielder Alex Rios—sparked a contentious debate on MLB Network, which was simulcasting the game. Emmy-winner Harold Reynolds approached berserk levels as he tried to reason with Mitch Williams, as Reynolds asserted Rougned Odor’s starting position (playing in an extreme shift against David Ortiz) made the play non-routine, while Williams insisted Rios’s failure to call off Odor constituted an error of communication, and thus a “legal” error.

Reynolds wasn’t right, either—he insisted that because the ball never touched a glove, the decision was “garbage.” By the letter of baseball’s rules, sure—it’s an error. But by convention, official scorers almost never assign an error unless a fielder makes a physical mistake in the fielding process (which generally means the fielder touches the ball).

The premise of the argument is legitimate. The way these MLB Network broadcasters go about it, though, is embarrassing. Harold Reynolds, at one point, states the scoring decision is “the worst ruling in Major League Baseball history.”

Repoz Posted: May 10, 2014 at 08:15 AM | 140 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Nasty Nate Posted: May 12, 2014 at 07:27 PM (#4705420)
Now, the more I think about it, the more I'm inclined to just go with No. 2.


Seems best to me too.

-------------

And when you focus on the advancement of the runner, you get into all sorts of problems, as illustrated by the sac fly/run-scoring groundout/runner-advancing grounder to second situations.


Those problems are unavoidable - they are there in your 3) , as an unsuccessful sac attempt is not differentiated from a normal ground-out.

In the cases of a bunt with runner advancement (and if we can't use your first 2 choices), I'd rather lump bunt hit attempts with pure sacrifice bunts rather than lump bunt hit attempts with regular old ground-outs. For my taste, the explicit overwhelming tangible and material similarities between the 2 kinds of bunts outweigh the implicit differences in intentions.
   102. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 12, 2014 at 09:42 PM (#4705486)

Those problems are unavoidable - they are there in your 3) , as an unsuccessful sac attempt is not differentiated from a normal ground-out.


I'm not sure it should be. You get a sac/no AB if you successfully complete your task. If you fail at it, then you're treated the same way any other out, productive or otherwise, is.

In the cases of a bunt with runner advancement (and if we can't use your first 2 choices), I'd rather lump bunt hit attempts with pure sacrifice bunts rather than lump bunt hit attempts with regular old ground-outs. For my taste, the explicit overwhelming tangible and material similarities between the 2 kinds of bunts outweigh the implicit differences in intentions.


Ultimately it's opinion, but the intent is the only thing that matters to me when deciding if somehting should be deemed a "sacrifice." It's the same reason why I want to see sac flies counted as ABs.

But yeah, I keep coming back to count them all as ABs and be done with it.

   103. Rob_Wood Posted: May 12, 2014 at 09:56 PM (#4705500)

scott, do you know who I am? if so, you are being a dick; if not, do some research and learn more about who I am. thanks much.
   104. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: May 13, 2014 at 07:03 AM (#4705633)
Jeez, if I had read post 7, I could have saved some time and said "ah, so it's an error, then". Damn skimming skills.
   105. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: May 13, 2014 at 07:06 AM (#4705634)
Hopefully someone who has the time can find the game played between the Red Sox and Milwaukee back in the early 70's, at Fenway, where a 2 out bases loaded pop up landed in the infield between 3 or 4 fielders (one of them catcher Ellie Rodriguez, I believe) and was scored a ridiculous triple. (Adjective didn't appear in the box score.)
   106. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: May 13, 2014 at 09:32 AM (#4705686)
scott, do you know who I am? if so, you are being a dick; if not, do some research and learn more about who I am. thanks much.


Do you drive a dodge stratus by any chance?
   107. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 13, 2014 at 09:46 AM (#4705700)
Hopefully someone who has the time can find the game played between the Red Sox and Milwaukee back in the early 70's, at Fenway, where a 2 out bases loaded pop up landed in the infield between 3 or 4 fielders (one of them catcher Ellie Rodriguez, I believe) and was scored a ridiculous triple. (Adjective didn't appear in the box score.)


This was a fun little exercise for me. Not sure this is what you were thinking but this might be it. It is not quite the precise facts you lay out but it is only listed as a "triple" by Rick Miller, no outfield designation and it allowed two runs to score. It happened in extra innings to break a tie which would explain in part why you had such vivid memory of the play.
   108. Scott Lange Posted: May 13, 2014 at 09:54 AM (#4705708)
Hmm, no mention of anything unusual about that Miller triple in the news stories of the day. See for example this one. They could've been written up from the box score by some wire service flunky though.
   109. dave h Posted: May 13, 2014 at 11:43 AM (#4705809)
That can't be it - only one out so a) it would be an infield fly and b) even if it weren't the runners couldn't be off, so it would be hard for them both to score and for the batter to reach 3rd.
   110. Sunday silence Posted: May 13, 2014 at 02:43 PM (#4705969)

scott, look around. the only person who seems to agree with you is harold reynolds. what does that tell you?


First of all this is completely wrong on its face; obviously he is not the only one.

second: browbeating people into agreeing with you on some sort of majoritarian basis is stoopid and contrary to the spirit of a forum.

This is why we cant have nice things.
   111. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 13, 2014 at 03:32 PM (#4706015)
That can't be it - only one out so a) it would be an infield fly and b) even if it weren't the runners couldn't be off, so it would be hard for them both to score and for the batter to reach 3rd.


Dammit, stop using logic! Just agree with me!!!!

The Red Sox hit three triples with the bases loaded from 1971-1975 (all per BBRef). While Ellie Rodriguez was not the catcher for any of them some fading memory can account for two of them;

The one it isn't was a Rico Petrocelli triple off Lindy MacDaniel. Thurman Munson was the catcher and BBRef's game log has it as a triple to center.

That leaves these two;

7/17/75 - Cecil Cooper vs. Paul Splitorff. The catcher was Buck Martinez so we at least get the hispanic last name thing. BBRef log just calls it "triple" with no indication of where to or what fielder picked the ball up.

6/28/73 - Bob Montgomery vs. Mike Kekich. The catcher in this case was John Ellis, Ellie=Ellis in the memory perhaps? BBRef log has the same descriptor as the Cooper triple. Both were two out triples so no infield fly rule issue.
   112. Rob_Wood Posted: May 13, 2014 at 04:33 PM (#4706059)
Okay, here is by way of apology to scott and anyone else who has felt mistreated in this thread. It's going to be long and you might have to squint to actually discern the apology.

Anyone can have any opinion they choose to hold. If you want to believe that the official scorer should have ruled the play in question a hit, fine with me. In fact, before the play happened I could not have cared less how the official scorer might rule on such a play. And I could not care less about one person's opinion on an internet forum.

The important issue, if even there is one here, is how these types of plays will be scored in the future in the face of this official scorer's ruling. This official scorer ruled it an error by reviewing the rule book, remembering a previous meeting with Elias, and calling Elias for "confirmation". He is okay with that ruling as is MLB (as far as we know).

BTF is an analytical-based website, some would even say a sabermetric-based website. This is not a team website or a public MLB website. So some appreciation, familiarity, and/or acceptance of sabermetric principles could naturally be expected by members. By extension, some appreciation and/or familiarity with people who have contributed to the sabermetric revolution (I was but a late-arriving foot soldier but I was present and even served for several years as the chairman of SABR's analytical committee).

People in the analytical community have been calling for a team error for many years. This is kind of a response to that. Ask yourself why we have been calling for a team error. (I apologize if this is old news to everyone here.)

One of Bill James's first discoveries was the unimportance of errors as an evaluative tool in assessing a player's defensive contributions (Larry Bowa was one example he used of a player with few errors but not really a very good defender). Fielding pct, once thought to be key, is now rightly seen as pretty insignificant. Range factor and its more modern fielding ancestors are far more important when evaluating fielders. Maybe you had to be there to appreciate the baseball community's reaction, but James was met with a tremendous amount of resistance when he wrote about this. What his critics yelled the loudest was "that is the way it's always been" (and who the f are you to say we are wrong). James, a critical thinker, rebuffed the reliance on tradition here and in countless other ways in his development of sabermetric tools and techniques. Every sabermetrician who has followed James has naturally adopted this skepticism.

Somewhat relatedly, folks in the analytical community have touted runs average (including both earned and unearned runs) in the evaluation of a pitcher, either as a supplement to or replacement for earned run average. Modern detailed pitcher evaluation tools bypass the whole RA vs ERA issue and look at components such as singles, doubles, walks, etc. Again, as above, the distinction between a hit and an error has been rendered relatively unimportant.

The concept of a team error would not "penalize" a pitcher for a team miscommunication behind him, typically on a play where more than one defender could have made a fairly easy play. The prototypical play where this arises the most seems to be popups that land between two or more infielders or between an infielder and an outfielder (rarer would be between two outfielders). The impetus is that a hitter did not really "deserve" a hit for (or the pitcher a hit against) due to two fielders watching a harmless popup land between them.

So in the night in question, a harmless flyball (really it was deeper than a popup and only appeared to be so since the defense was in a shift and the shifted infielder was playing a rover position) falls between two fielders who miscommunicated on the play (confirmed in the post-game comments). The official scorer really does not want to see a home team pitcher lose a no-hitter on such a play. He scratches his head and goes into a deep think. He consults the rule book and sees rule 10/12(a) or some rule, forgive me if I am not citing the correct rule. Then he remembers the meeting with Elias a year or so before. So he calls Elias and discusses the play with them. They agree that the play should be ruled an error.

MLB Network replays the play countless times (in real time and after the fact) and Harold Reynolds go berserk about the official scorer ruling it an error. Harold really did seem to lose it if you were watching live. Mitch Williams (a former pitcher of course) and the host (was it Greg Amsinger?) tried to reason with Harold to no avail. They even put the text of the rule that the official scorer cited up xon the screen and Harold was still not buying it. Harold argued that it was not a routine play and that type of play was always ruled a hit. The first point is a judgment call, so I will not comment. The official scorer used his judgment to rule that it was a play that could have been made with ordinary effort (which, to the extent that it matters, was confirmed by both fielders in the post-game comments).

It goes without saying that Harold Reynolds is the most anti-sabermetrics baseball guy on national television. This has several natural consequences. First, as a baseball traditionalist Harold often leads with "that is the way it's always been" and expects that argument to carry the day. Lo and behold, to the contrary in sabermetric circles that type of argument is often given no credence (or, anti-credence, if that is even a word). Second, when Harold yells and screams, most sabermetric types find themselves disagreeing with him on the merits and on principle.

Now, to wrap this up, several posters have opined that the play in question should have been ruled a hit since that is how it has always been ruled. You can see from above that I (and many in the analytical community) do not find that argument to be compelling. One or more posters have gone further and pointed out that they did not like the arbitrary nature of the ruling (if a no-hitter was not in the balance would it have been ruled an error?). This is a very legitimate objection and one I wish Harold Reynolds would have voiced. Of course, it is largely a rhetorical question since we cannot know for sure. But we should monitor this and other official scorers and see how they rule on this type of play going forward. Maybe Elias or MLB will come out with a public guideline for official scorers to use going forward. I hope they do. And, in my opinion, they will say either charge a fielder with an error or charge a team error. I cannot envision that any future guideline would be to rule this a hit, but I have been wrong before.

Anyway, I apologize to scott and anyone else in this thread. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Too much heat and energy have been expended on this relatively insignificant official scorer decision. The only reason I took any interest in the topic was the neat confluence of factors described above.

P.S. When this issue came up yesterday on MLB Network, Brian Kenny simply said (I am paraphrasing) "Who cares whether it is a hit or an error? The result is the same and our evaluation techniques are not troubled by the distinction." I wish Brian had been the host when Harold went crazy, maybe this would have all been resolved that evening.
   113. Scott Lange Posted: May 13, 2014 at 05:10 PM (#4706086)
Apology accepted. In the end, I think we do just about all agree on the idea that in an ideal world the play would be ruled an error; we just differ on how baseball should go about getting there.
   114. Rob_Wood Posted: May 13, 2014 at 05:11 PM (#4706088)

Jose, backtobaseball.com has the cooper 1975 triple to be to center field (eluding amos otis) and it looks to me as if the montgomery 1973 triple occurred with just one out

and thanks Scott for your understanding
   115. Sunday silence Posted: May 13, 2014 at 05:42 PM (#4706109)
It's going to be long and you might have to squint to actually discern the apology.


as long as you dont do it those goddam passive voices we've heard so much about. you should probably have to extend your sentence if you issue an apology in one of those.
   116. Sunday silence Posted: May 13, 2014 at 05:50 PM (#4706112)
Maybe Elias or MLB will come out with a public guideline for official scorers to use going forward.


But is that likely? Has that ever happened in the history of baseball? As you mention above, the crux of the matter is that a lot of people are having a hard time buying into the idea that this scoring of an error represents some sea-change of opinion. The pessimist believes this was done to preserve a no hitter.

Also the pessimist has a hard time believing that a) he would have called Elias if he had ruled it a hit; b) he has ever called Elias, c) some meeting with Elias has some sort of precedence. There's lots to this story to be skeptical of. But maybe this scorer does have a lot of integrity and is really sincere; I have no experience of him.

Does anyone know his track record to say that he's really ontop of things and very sincere?
   117. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: May 13, 2014 at 06:09 PM (#4706118)
Goddammit, they went and changed the scoring on the play!

Is there a way to tell if 3 runs scored on an infield error? I'm positive Ellie Rodriguez was the catcher. Let me see when he began with the team.
   118. Sunday silence Posted: May 13, 2014 at 06:13 PM (#4706119)
The concept of a team error would not "penalize" a pitcher for a team miscommunication behind him, typically on a play where more than one defender could have made a fairly easy play.


Andy for one, has argued that there should be team errors, but I am not so convinced.

1) how often does it happen that you need it? The error this weekend that was between OF and inf. the standard is usually that the OF is the one in charge that's his play. Error to the OF. You gave an example of a ball falling among 3 infielders, but even in that case you can still assign the ultimate impact of ball on the field into one zone that is the responsibility of one guy.

Baseball is like that, everyone plays one zone that is fairly well defined. A ball that is hit perfectly in between two players, and no one touches it, well that very likely is a hit. The same ball in between where one player touches it well maybe it's his error. Given that any ball that lands in play can be assigned a zone OR if it lands right on a line it's probably a hit, its hard to make a case for a team error.

2) The need for standardization of statistics. You really dont want to argue the difference between an assignable error and a team error do you ? There would be lots of room for disagreement there, it seems. Plus your going to throw individual stats out of whack if you dont know who is really responsible for that error.

3) Room for subjectivity. I could see rookie shortstop makes 10 errors, while lovable old guy Cal Ripken makes 0 errors. But his team had 15 team errors. Whatever.
   119. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: May 13, 2014 at 06:29 PM (#4706126)
I just scoured retrosheet. There's no evidence of the play in question. Yet, I'm sure it was the Brewers, sure it was Eliie Rodriguez catching, sure it was a 2 out IF pop up that scored 3 runs. It was a night game, we had grandstand seats on the first base side.
   120. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 13, 2014 at 06:35 PM (#4706128)
1) how often does it happen that you need it? The error this weekend that was between OF and inf. the standard is usually that the OF is the one in charge that's his play. Error to the OF. You gave an example of a ball falling among 3 infielders, but even in that case you can still assign the ultimate impact of ball on the field into one zone that is the responsibility of one guy.

If they begin to assign an individual error on plays like the one here, then it won't necessarily be needed. But you admit the skepticism about that possibility.

2) The need for standardization of statistics. You really dont want to argue the difference between an assignable error and a team error do you ? There would be lots of room for disagreement there, it seems. Plus your going to throw individual stats out of whack if you dont know who is really responsible for that error.

No one really cares about individual error-related defensive statistics any more. Moreover, in whatever capacity they're used, it's generally against their peers, so any effect should wash out. The team error concept can be implemented with little to no impact on the big picture statistics (certainly no more of an effect than any change in official scoring tendencies would create).

3) Room for subjectivity. I could see rookie shortstop makes 10 errors, while lovable old guy Cal Ripken makes 0 errors. But his team had 15 team errors. Whatever.

The exact same conditions for scorekeeping shenanignas exist now, only between hit and error.

Brian Kenny simply said (I am paraphrasing) "Who cares whether it is a hit or an error? The result is the same and our evaluation techniques are not troubled by the distinction." I wish Brian had been the host when Harold went crazy, maybe this would have all been resolved that evening.

I care. In fact, I don't really care a whole lot about our evaluation techniques, but scoring and rules interest me a whole lot. Baseball appreciation comes in many forms beyond measuring value. I wish BK would recognize that.
   121. Rob_Wood Posted: May 13, 2014 at 07:09 PM (#4706147)

How about the May 26, 1972 game (2nd inning)?
   122. base ball chick Posted: May 13, 2014 at 09:49 PM (#4706214)
Rob_Wood Posted: May 12, 2014 at 09:56 PM (#4705500)

scott, do you know who I am? if so, you are being a dick; if not, do some research and learn more about who I am. thanks much


- i know i'm not much of a d8ck, but i am dying to know

are you the pitcher drafted by the athletics in 79 or the IF drafted by the astros in the 75 draft?

i'm thrilled - here and i thought that bob tufts was our only pro ball player
   123. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: May 13, 2014 at 11:55 PM (#4706291)

#122 I believe he is Rob Wood the former head of SABR's Statistical Analysis Committee. Much more thrilling...
   124. Squash Posted: May 14, 2014 at 12:21 AM (#4706308)
But is that likely? Has that ever happened in the history of baseball? As you mention above, the crux of the matter is that a lot of people are having a hard time buying into the idea that this scoring of an error represents some sea-change of opinion. The pessimist believes this was done to preserve a no hitter.

I don't know about a sea change, but I do think now it will be much more likely that (some) official scorers will rule those balls as errors rather than hits, given the loud discussion over this. And I expect at some point during the offseason we will get some sort of vanilla announcement to the effect of "official scorers are and have always been encouraged to use their judgment about whether a ball was properly fielded blah blah blah" to shift blame to the scorers, after which many more will be scored as errors.
   125. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 14, 2014 at 12:31 AM (#4706324)

I don't know about a sea change, but I do think now it will be much more likely that (some) official scorers will rule those balls as errors rather than hits, given the loud discussion over this. And I expect at some point during the offseason we will get some sort of vanilla announcement to the effect of "official scorers are and have always been encouraged to use their judgment about whether a ball was properly fielded blah blah blah" to shift blame to the scorers, after which many more will be scored as errors.


I still think Ortiz's appeal could be the trigger to make this type of call more commonplace (or, conversely, stop it in its tracks). By appealing the decision, Ortiz is forcing MLB is to come down on one side or the other, which should have more far-reaching consequences than a single scorer's call.
   126. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: May 14, 2014 at 06:59 AM (#4706382)
How about the May 26, 1972 game (2nd inning)?


That has to be it. But they have it as a ground ball error? How could 3 runs score on a ground ball to third, booted?

Also, there's 4 outs accounted for that half inning: foul pop, 2 FC's and a K. 2 errors (1 throwing error on a SB attempt, and the E5 that scored 3 runs). No errors on the FCs. Confusing.

That E5 has to be mislabeled as an error on a ground ball. The ball fell closer to home than to third, but was probably a little bit to the 3B side, so, I can see how they would give the error to the 3B. I was 13 years old, I remember it differently. I thought the batter ended up on third. Anyway, that has to be the play. Thanks, Rob.

Also, I thought the game in question was a blowout. Guess not.
   127. Lassus Posted: May 14, 2014 at 08:39 AM (#4706408)
That has to be it. But they have it as a ground ball error? How could 3 runs score on a ground ball to third, booted?

Rocket between the legs down the line, CF-shaded LF slow to react, maybe slips on the way, ball to the corner. Doesn't seem too crazy. Four outs I have no explanation for.
   128. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 14, 2014 at 08:51 AM (#4706413)
A fielders choice does not necessarily mean an out was recorded. For example; runner on third, one out, grounder to third. The third baseman comes home to try and get the runner and the runner gets in a rundown and gets back to third safely. That would be scored a fielders choice, not a hit, if the scorer rules that the batter would have been a routine out if not for the decision to try and get the runner.
   129. Scott Lange Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:32 PM (#4706809)
I still think Ortiz's appeal could be the trigger to make this type of call more commonplace (or, conversely, stop it in its tracks). By appealing the decision, Ortiz is forcing MLB is to come down on one side or the other, which should have more far-reaching consequences than a single scorer's call.


Looks like it's been stopped in its tracks: Ortiz wins appeal.
   130. Rob_Wood Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:33 PM (#4706810)

mlb just changed the call to a hit!!
   131. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:40 PM (#4706815)

Looks like it's been stopped in its tracks: Ortiz wins appeal.


There you go. MLB has spoken. Loud and dumbassy.
   132. tfbg9 Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:49 PM (#4706822)
There you go. MLB has spoken. Loud and dumbassy.


George Mitchell.
   133. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 14, 2014 at 03:56 PM (#4706825)
Maybe this will turn out to be the impetus to institute a "team error" in the off-season or perhaps simply instruct scorers to start ruling these types of plays as errors.
   134. Rob_Wood Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:02 PM (#4706829)

I truly am not trying to open up this discussion again, but I find it troubling that MLB can simply change the call and not give any explanation.
   135. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:07 PM (#4706833)
I truly am not trying to open up this discussion again, but I find it troubling that MLB can simply change the call and not give any explanation.


Yeah, I went looking for a little detail from MLB, but saw none was given. Well, I guess we can take the bright side approach that Jose is doing, but man this was a golden opportunity to fix a longstanding problem. That they took the opposite tack, with nary a word in support of the decision, is depressing.
   136. tfbg9 Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:18 PM (#4706840)
I truly am not trying to open up this discussion again, but I find it troubling that MLB can simply change the call and not give any explanation.


*cough-George Mitchell-cough*
   137. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:29 PM (#4706853)
An explanation would be nice but I think it's pretty easy to assume that MLB has simply decided to follow current practice rather than rule.
   138. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 14, 2014 at 04:36 PM (#4706867)
*cough-George Mitchell-cough*

It sounds like you're coming down with something there, Teddy Redneck.
   139. SteveF Posted: May 15, 2014 at 04:17 AM (#4707156)
The official scorer shall not score mental mistakes or misjudgments as errors unless a specific rule prescribes otherwise.

This is why it's a hit, as far as I can tell. Official scorers getting together at a meeting and deciding to change an interpretation of a rule is not a 'specific rule prescribing otherwise.'
   140. stanmvp48 Posted: May 15, 2014 at 09:00 AM (#4707205)
Did anyone see the ball Nolan Arenado hit yesterday in the 7th inning which was ruled a double?
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