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Monday, August 10, 2020

Giants’ Johnny Cueto loses no-hitter as routine fly ball ends in disaster

Holding a no-hitter in the sixth inning, Cueto allowed a fly ball to Dodgers utility man Kiké Hernández that should not have been a problem. Statcast measured the xBA of the ball (i.e. the likelihood of a hit on similar balls in play) at just .060, with a 99% catch probability. It was a routine fly ball.

However, no routine fly ball is routine when the outfielder doesn’t see the ball. Enter Hunter Pence:

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 10, 2020 at 08:45 AM | 38 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: giants, johnny cueto

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   1. Howie Menckel Posted: August 10, 2020 at 09:10 AM (#5968737)
Statcast measured the xBA of the ball (i.e. the likelihood of a hit on similar balls in play) at just .060

ironically, .060 also is Pence's batting average
   2. Perry Posted: August 10, 2020 at 09:55 AM (#5968747)
"Hunter Pence Can't Catch a Routine Fly"
   3. Paul d mobile Posted: August 10, 2020 at 10:02 AM (#5968748)
Also, while I know it's not how it's called, this should clearly be an error, right?
   4. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: August 10, 2020 at 10:11 AM (#5968751)
I don't think this is relevant here but have we seen any impact of the absence of fans? Has there been a change in K/BB rates or more errors or misplayed flyballs or anything like that? I know when the NHL has played their outdoor games there has been talk of some challenges for the goalies with the change in depth perception because of the lack of fans right behind the goals and I'm curious if anything of that nature has been seen in games.
   5. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: August 10, 2020 at 10:16 AM (#5968753)
Also, while I know it's not how it's called, this should clearly be an error, right?


I think you can go down a rabbit hole on what constitutes "ordinary effort." A player can't be expected to catch a ball he can't see so how much blame does the defender deserve for not seeing this ball? Pence pretty clearly lost it immediately, this isn't a play where he tracked it for awhile then lost it, he almost literally didn't see it the moment it was hit.

That said, yeah I'd like to see these plays given errors (and I'd like to see "team errors" on those "I got it I got it #### you got it" plays).
   6. SoSH U at work Posted: August 10, 2020 at 10:21 AM (#5968756)

Also, while I know it's not how it's called, this should clearly be an error, right?


Historically, I don't think it's ever been called that way. I do think this might be a reasonable application of the team error, whereby plays that should be made that aren't (particularly fly balls that drop between three defenders, any of whom could have caught the ball) are called errors but without assigning blame to a particular fielder.
   7. Howie Menckel Posted: August 10, 2020 at 10:23 AM (#5968757)
yep, it should be an error but after more than a century - well, it ain't and it won't be.

not the hill to die on (not that anyone is dying on it).
   8. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 10, 2020 at 11:05 AM (#5968772)
We have the data now. Any ball with above a given percentage chance of being turned into an out (80%? 90%?) that is not turned into an out is an error. The error is assigned to the fielder who most often makes the play on that type of ball. There would still be judgment calls on throwing errors, of course.
   9. ramifications of an exciting 57i66135 Posted: August 10, 2020 at 11:13 AM (#5968773)
charlie hayes, eat your heart out.
   10. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 10, 2020 at 11:23 AM (#5968775)
Hunter Pence has appeared in 11 games this season, and has a WAR of -0.7.
   11. Lassus Posted: August 10, 2020 at 11:44 AM (#5968781)
I don't think this is relevant here but have we seen any impact of the absence of fans?

For this fly ball, is it possible some enterprising or helpful fan or fans could have been screaming their head(s) off at him to run back?

I initially thought so, but then again, players have done this for ages while there HAVE been fans there, so I guess not.
   12. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 10, 2020 at 12:15 PM (#5968788)
I was relieved to see he was far enough from the fence that it was unlikely to bounce off any part of him and over the fence.
   13. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: August 10, 2020 at 12:56 PM (#5968798)
Hunter Pence has appeared in 11 games this season, and has a WAR of -0.7.
That's a -14 WAR pace over a 162 game season. A team that got that level of production from all 9 positions on the field would be expected to win negative-78 games (48 wins - (-14*9)). It's sort of awesome that Hunter Pence is so bad that he broke replacement level.
   14. McCoy Posted: August 10, 2020 at 01:02 PM (#5968800)
Should be an error on Pence. It's clearly his fault. Now him being on a roster and on the field is a team error.
   15. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 10, 2020 at 02:01 PM (#5968826)
I was relieved to see he was far enough from the fence that it was unlikely to bounce off any part of him and over the fence.
Hunter Pence can change the trajectory of a moving baseball just by staring at it. Although I guess that didn't happen either in this case.
   16. The Duke Posted: August 10, 2020 at 02:03 PM (#5968829)
Actually that wasn’t Pence. It was Jason Larue who had sneaked into the game for one play
   17. Howie Menckel Posted: August 10, 2020 at 02:58 PM (#5968860)
ironically, .060 also is Pence's batting average

I must confess to my hyperbole there.

Pence, is in fact, hitting .063.

those responsible will be sacked.
   18. Itchy Row Posted: August 10, 2020 at 03:21 PM (#5968868)
Our pitcher lost a perfect game like that in Babe Ruth League in the last inning. I don't think the right fielder lost the ball- he just wasn't paying attention. I was playing third and from my perspective it looked like an easy enough fly ball that even a Babe Ruth right fielder could catch it, but he never moved and it landed ten feet away from him. I was somewhat relieved that I wasn't the one who messed it up. No-hitters aren't that unusual in Little League and Babe Ruth, but that's the only game I played in or saw that was close to perfect.

Anyway, that right fielder's name was Hunter. Probably still is.
   19. Howie Menckel Posted: August 10, 2020 at 05:05 PM (#5968889)
sounded he went by "Hunted" for a while after that game.
   20. Jay Z Posted: August 10, 2020 at 05:22 PM (#5968891)
That's a -14 WAR pace over a 162 game season. A team that got that level of production from all 9 positions on the field would be expected to win negative-78 games (48 wins - (-14*9)). It's sort of awesome that Hunter Pence is so bad that he broke replacement level.


I suppose that's a flaw; there should be a floor to WAR. Think about the best possible team that would be likely to go 0-162. There are many possible teams that would be worse than that. Teams consisting entirely of babies would fare particularly poorly.
   21. Howie Menckel Posted: August 10, 2020 at 05:29 PM (#5968892)
I think a team of Ditka babies could contend in the NFC North
   22. Walt Davis Posted: August 11, 2020 at 01:25 AM (#5968978)
I suppose that's a flaw; there should be a floor to WAR.

Bill James, is that you? :-) Of course things get non-linear in WAR once you push them to the extremes ... which, if the Marlins' disaster roster would cooperate, is where we'd be right now.

I think a team of Ditka babies could contend in the NFC North

Or the NL Central. Weirdest standings right now you ever saw: Cubs 1st at 10-3 followed by the Cards at 2-3. (OK technically the Cards have the 4th-best WP but games behind is games behind.)
   23. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: August 11, 2020 at 07:56 AM (#5968986)
The amount of attention this play got seems a little over the top, when you consider it was the leadoff batter of the 6th inning, in a game where Cueto ended up not making it out of the 6th. I know there was only one other hit in the game, you never know, etc...but this is ther kind of thing that is a lot more interesting in the 9th inning...
   24. villageidiom Posted: August 11, 2020 at 08:49 AM (#5968995)
We have the data now. Any ball with above a given percentage chance of being turned into an out (80%? 90%?) that is not turned into an out is an error.
Because we have the data now, anyone can define these things any way they want, and make up new stats that work better than the existing ones. But it should still be classified as a hit, not an error, for the stats as already defined.

The case for it being an error is that Hunter Pence would not have lost the ball had he exhibited ordinary effort of an average MLB left fielder on that particular batted ball. I don't think anyone can effectively make that case.
   25. Howie Menckel Posted: August 11, 2020 at 09:18 AM (#5969003)
Cubs 1st at 10-3 followed by the Cards at 2-3. (OK technically the Cards have the 4th-best WP but games behind is games behind.)

MLB has decided already that winning percentage will be the "coin of the realm" - not games behind.

as for the Pence play, Adell's booboo of tipping the ball over the fence - also an obvious error - may be the first time ever that such a play was called a four-base error. granted, it was the most obvious example ever as well, but I call that progress.

when a batter hits a routine fly ball to left field and it isn't caught, sentient beings would call that an error. refer to the "infield fly rule" as an example - the rule doesn't even allow for potential incompetence.

a century-old "tradition" of stupidity re routine fly balls not caught being called hits is not much of an endorsement. we're all allowed to stop being so stupid, if we choose.

as for the Cueto play, much of the notice is that Cueto led 5-0 before the "triple," then that run scored, two men walked, then a 3-run HR. and Cueto was noticeably peeved at Pence's pitifulness.
   26. Hysterical & Useless Posted: August 11, 2020 at 02:35 PM (#5969074)
Losing the flight of the ball--in the sun, in the lights, in the shirts of fans or the dark of night--is simply not the same as a cack-handed butchering. The guy who fails to bend his knees and lets the ball go between his legs, or pulls the glove down to make a throw before he's caught the ball, or the guy who simply drops the ball that's RIGHT AT HIM, they've made errors. But the guy who loses the ball in the previously-mentioned et cetera is the victim of an unfortunate occurrence. It's a pity when the pitcher loses a no-hitter that way, but the fact that he then shat the bed because he was too pissed off at his teammate's ill fortune to continue to perform his professional duties should in no way garner him sympathy.
   27. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: August 11, 2020 at 06:21 PM (#5969122)
That ball certainly trumped Pence!
   28. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 11, 2020 at 10:11 PM (#5969155)
Losing the flight of the ball--in the sun, in the lights, in the shirts of fans or the dark of night--is simply not the same as a cack-handed butchering. The guy who fails to bend his knees and lets the ball go between his legs, or pulls the glove down to make a throw before he's caught the ball, or the guy who simply drops the ball that's RIGHT AT HIM, they've made errors. But the guy who loses the ball in the previously-mentioned et cetera is the victim of an unfortunate occurrence.
I disagree. I think that guy also made an error, albeit of a different type, in failing to track the ball. I think it’s fair to call it a “failure” because the vast majority of the time fielders are able to track the ball, even under difficult conditions. If there is evidence that fielders lose the ball a significant percentage of the time at that position, in that park, at that time of day or something like that, maybe that’s different. But the strong presumption should be that it’s an error.
   29. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 11, 2020 at 11:25 PM (#5969163)
Statcast measured the xBA of the ball (i.e. the likelihood of a hit on similar balls in play) at just .060, with a 99% catch probability.

If the expected batting average is .060, shouldn't the catch probability be 94%?
   30. sunday silence (again) Posted: August 12, 2020 at 09:47 AM (#5969213)
Hunter Pence has appeared in 11 games this season, and has a WAR of -0.7.
That's a -14 WAR pace over a 162 game season.


Routine math problem ends in disaster.
   31. Ron J Posted: August 12, 2020 at 12:46 PM (#5969262)
#30. More like an unstated assumption. That as a season goes on Pence would be expected to wear down and play worse.
   32. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 12, 2020 at 01:03 PM (#5969265)
If the expected batting average is .060, shouldn't the catch probability be 94%?

or less leaving a margin for error.
   33. Hysterical & Useless Posted: August 12, 2020 at 07:13 PM (#5969337)
If there is evidence that fielders lose the ball a significant percentage of the time at that position, in that park, at that time of day or something like that, maybe that’s different.

How can there be "evidence" of such a thing? Each batted ball is simply too different. The ground ball that hits a pebble and takes a crazy bounce into the shortstop's throat has never been scored an error, even though--until it hits the pebble--it is absolutely like any other routine double-play grounder to short. There's simply no way to determine that any other fielder, with "average" effort, would not have lost this particular ball. Now, if you could show that Pence was facing the wrong way when the pitch was delivered, or playing with his zipper, or ogling virtual chicks in the stands, yeah, I'll join in calling it an error. But if he was paying attention and something in the background temporarily rendered the ball invisible to him, he's no more to blame than Tony Kubek was for fielding Virdon's grounder with his neck.
   34. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 13, 2020 at 12:39 AM (#5969367)
Isn’t that pretty classic begging the question, though? “He didn’t catch it, so it must have been impossible to catch.”
   35. villageidiom Posted: August 13, 2020 at 10:07 AM (#5969395)
I disagree. I think that guy also made an error, albeit of a different type, in failing to track the ball.
The grounder that hit the pebble was also a case where the fielder failed to track the ball.
Isn’t that pretty classic begging the question, though? “He didn’t catch it, so it must have been impossible to catch.”
Hardly. It's "he didn't catch it because he clearly lost track of it, but it's impossible for us to say he shouldn't have lost track of it".
   36. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: August 14, 2020 at 02:04 PM (#5969624)
I don't know if it was covered here, but the Angels' Jo Adell knocked a ball over the fence with his glove, which was ruled an error rather than a home run:


link
   37. Howie Menckel Posted: August 14, 2020 at 02:35 PM (#5969630)
that ball was not close to being an actual HR, which is amazing. had to be an error.
   38. Howie Menckel Posted: August 14, 2020 at 11:14 PM (#5969768)
in Cueto's next start after this fustercluck, he has replaced 5 no-hit innings with 5 one-hit innings - against Oakland, no less.

and he has a 6-0 lead - aided by a 3-run HR by Pence.

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