October 24, 2002
Aggressive baserunning

So I'm watching Game Five of the World Series. It's the top of the fifth and the Giants are leading the Angels 6-0. The Angels lead off with pinch hitter Orlando Palmeiro, who hits a one-hopper off the wall in right. Palmeiro, running aggressively, chugged into second for a double. A good throw might have had a shot at him. David Eckstein then singled, and after a sac fly Eckstein went from first to third on a single by Tim Salmon, just beating the throw from Kenny Lofton.

Eckstein then scored on a wild pitch, again just beating the throw from Benito Santiago to pitcher Jason Schmidt. That's Angels baseball, scratching out runs. Both runners' aggressiveness looked good when Garrett Anderson struck out - it would have been second and third with two outs and only one run in otherwise.

Of course, Troy Glaus then doubled off the wall in left, just missing a home run, to drive in Salmon. Had Eckstein run the bases like Mo Vaughn, he still would have scored. Go-go baserunning is fun and can certainly pay off, but I'm the kind of stodgy grump who believes in not risking outs on the basepaths when you're down by more than two runs. Tim McCarver praised Eckstein for his aggressiveness but never noted either the risk involved (the Angels would have been held to one run had Eckstein or Palmeiro been erased) or the fact that Glaus' double made the whole exercise moot. That's a pet peeve of mine - announcers never do that sort of thing, which in my mind always skews the perception of the risk/reward ratio.

OK, enough crotchetiness. Back to the game.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 24, 2002 to Baseball | TrackBack

Heh. You sound like Earl Weaver, playing for the three-run inning.

You're right, of course.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on October 24, 2002 10:48 PM

Agreed. It surprises me how often I have to explain to people about one-run strategies versus patience, and how risking an out for a one-run tactic like sacrificing, stealing or taking the extra base doesn't make sense when you're down two or more. You can't understand the game well until you understand that point. And I noticed that McCarver didn't bring it up as well. Negligent.

Posted by: David de la Fuente on October 25, 2002 1:08 AM