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Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Royals’ luckiest play vs. 2015 Astros in Game 4? Maybe it wasn’t so lucky after all

Morales’ moment still has always been a bit unsettling. KC deserves so much credit for its comeback, yet the game’s most important sequence — the Royals’ odds of winning the game went from 44% to 78% because of that one play, according to FanGraphs (and would have been at 24% had Correa fielded it cleanly to turn two) — has mostly been attributed to the Royals getting fortunate at the most opportune of times.

And yet ... after further review, I don’t think that’s what happened here at all.

Zach Posted: May 05, 2020 at 11:55 AM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, carlos correa, comeback, kendrys morales, playoffs, royals

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   1. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: May 09, 2020 at 09:51 PM (#5949118)
This is interesting, novel, useful analysis.

At least something good has come from having no new MLB games to watch.
   2. SoSH U at work Posted: May 09, 2020 at 10:13 PM (#5949119)
An easy case could be made that, in all actuality, the Astros were the fortunate ones on this Morales grounder. Sipp getting his glove on the ball at all was an unlikely event, and if he had missed, history tells us (along with the Astros’ positioning) that Morales would have had a sure single to center. The fact that Sipp tipped the grounder while redirecting it toward Correa, with the ball maintaining a decent pace, is also a result not common among other situations like it.


The analysis ignored a very important distinction, one that makes Sipp's deflection far less good fortune and somewhat unlucky. Sipp's positioning after the pitch is not just better than every other pitcher in the video, but significantly better. The other pitchers who deflected the ball did so out of luck or a wild swing of the mitt. Sipp was the only one positioned like an infielder at the time the ball came off the bat. His ability to get a glove on the ball was not just happenstance, but a residue of his pitching motion. He was trying to make a play. He could have just as easily fielded that ball cleanly, which none of the other pitchers were truly in position to do.



   3. Sunday silence: Play Guess How long season lasts Posted: May 10, 2020 at 01:41 AM (#5949136)


THis part of the article Im having a hard time understanding:

An easy case could be made that, in all actuality, the Astros were the fortunate ones on this Morales grounder.


as the article itself states, in a small sample of 22 such similar occurances, batters had a .500 OBP. In a slightly larger sample they were batting .556 or something. How were they fortunate? Maybe he's saying they were fortunate that Sipp got something on it but not sure how that changes the odds in these samples.

He could have just as easily fielded that ball cleanly, which none of the other pitchers were truly in position to do.


Im not seeing this at all. In the video Sipps glove seems about near his waist and the ball seems to be bouncing off the rubber or the mound. I havent been able to slow down the video but it seems that Sipp's glove is at least 2 feet or more away from the ball.

SOSH, you seem to assume that Sipp touched the ball, and perhaps the author does as well. Has that been established? It looks like the ball caroms off the rubber.

I did like the use of the word "residue." THat was a nice piece of writing in any event.
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: May 10, 2020 at 12:03 PM (#5949179)
SOSH, you seem to assume that Sipp touched the ball, and perhaps the author does as well. Has that been established? It looks like the ball caroms off the rubber.


It looks to me like it hits the mitt. But if you're right, then yes, that would change things quite a bit.

I did like the use of the word "residue." THat was a nice piece of writing in any event.


Gee, thanks.

   5. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: May 10, 2020 at 02:54 PM (#5949197)
I think the ball hits his glove, then caroms onto the rubber.

THis part of the article Im having a hard time understanding:

An easy case could be made that, in all actuality, the Astros were the fortunate ones on this Morales grounder.



as the article itself states, in a small sample of 22 such similar occurances, batters had a .500 OBP. In a slightly larger sample they were batting .556 or something. How were they fortunate? Maybe he's saying they were fortunate that Sipp got something on it but not sure how that changes the odds in these samples.



The author found 22 situations that almost exactly matched this one in terms of launch angle, spray angle, batted ball velocity, and baserunners. Half of those batters reached first and none registered double plays. The expanded search found 18 more similar situations with slightly looser criteria but where the double play was still in order, and batting average was even higher in that group. There was one double play made in that additional group, but on an exaggerated shift.

Basically, the author is saying that the perception is the Royals look like they got lucky to avoid the double play because of an error, but really the Astros were lucky even to be in a position where a double play was possible. No typically positioned team has turned one in a similar situation since at least 2015, and no other such batted ball has been scored an error.
   6. SoSH U at work Posted: May 10, 2020 at 04:18 PM (#5949212)
Basically, the author is saying that the perception is the Royals look like they got lucky to avoid the double play because of an error, but really the Astros were lucky even to be in a position where a double play was possible.


I agree that's what he meant, but it's a goofy comment nonetheless. We don't define luck that way, nor should we. In the actual play, they had two chances to get at least one out and possibly two (when it bounced off a well-positioned Sipp's glove, and it bounced over the glove of a subsequently perfectly positioned Correa) and the end result was just as bad as it would have been had the ball just gone straight up the middle. Deeming the Astros the "fortunate ones" under those circumstances would basically make the concept meaningless, as it could be infinitely employed*.

I do agree with the author the ball likely took an unexpected hop over Correa, and I think a base hit would have been a defensible scoring of the play.

* The Royals were the real fortunate ones because the Astros didn't have an exaggerated shift on. The Astros were the real, real fortunate ones because they got a fortunate negative launch angle on such a hard hit ball, etc.

   7. Sunday silence: Play Guess How long season lasts Posted: May 10, 2020 at 07:52 PM (#5949249)
I really dont see the ball hitting Sipp's glove but oh well...
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: May 10, 2020 at 08:16 PM (#5949250)

I really dont see the ball hitting Sipp's glove but oh well...



So I went back to MLB's highlights from the game. Smoltz, doing the game, said the ball hit off Sipp's glove. The video from the first base side, however, is inconclusive (though it confirms that Sipp was trying to field the ball).

MLB's write-up says it bounced off the mound, with no mention of it hitting Sipp's mitt. And so on. There doesn't seem to be any agreement on the matter, as I found multiple references to both a deflection and to a ground ball up the middle. And no quotes from Sipp, who seems like the person who could have settled the matter (to be fair, I suspect there isn't widespread realization that there was a difference of opinion on the matter).

The one thing that makes me think it deflected is the ball seems to change direction after it gets past him.
   9. Sunday silence: Play Guess How long season lasts Posted: May 10, 2020 at 08:25 PM (#5949253)
it seems to change direction, but I thought that was from the rubber. Did you think it changed direction when it hit his glove? There's a site where you can download any video and play it in slo mo. it doesnt seem possible on that site.
   10. SoSH U at work Posted: May 10, 2020 at 08:30 PM (#5949256)
Did you think it changed direction when it hit his glove?


That's my impression.

Regardless of which view is correct, I think it's fascinating that on this pretty meaningful play from the Royals' 2015 World Series run, there's no consensus on what actually happened.
   11. Sunday silence: Play Guess How long season lasts Posted: May 10, 2020 at 08:34 PM (#5949257)
here's the site, you copy the URL and paste it into the site. The slow down control is not readily apparent, its below the picture tube in the left corner. It looks like fastforward/reverse control..

http://www.watchframebyframe.com/

Yeah at 1/4 speed it looks like its possible the ball does hit the glove and head downward. The glove doesnt really move, but yeah its possible it did hit the glove. Also it looks like the SS really did have a bead on the ball, he has the glove up near his body seemingly in position but I guess he just misjudged how much topspin the ball had or something

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