Friday, July 31, 2020

Analysis of Mets-Red Sox Time Double Play, Errors

Tuesday's Mets-Red Sox game featured an inning-ending bases loaded double time play wherein umpires had to adjust to both teams making key mistakes: Boston ran itself into an out while New York surrendered an unnecessary run. This is a fascinating video to analyze. So what happened?

Play: With one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 3rd inning, Red Sox batter Rafael Devers hit a 2-1 slider from Mets pitcher David Peterson on a line drive to second baseman Robinson Cano, who either caught or trapped the batted ball. 2B Umpire Chad Whitson observed the slightest of changes of directions in the ball's flight and ruled a trap/no catch ("safe" mechanic). After Cano threw the ball to shortstop Amed Rosario, Rosario stepped on second base to force out Boston baserunner R1 Jose Peraza.

Boston ran itself out of an inning.
At that time, Red Sox baserunner R2 Andrew Benintendi started to run toward third base, baserunner R3 Kevin Plawecki ran and touched home plate, and the Metsultimately tagged Benintendi out to end the inning. HP Umpire James Hoye in turn signaled to count the run, that Plawecki had scored prior to the third out.

Analysis: For the umpires, it comes down to understanding the situation before the play occurs. While crews might enjoy a pre-game before first stepping onto the field, each official can do him or herself a world of good by pre-playing potential situations before they occur.

Take stock of the situation.
In this situation—bases loaded, one out—we have a potential time play (remember, 3 runners + 1 out = 4, and 4 is greater than or equal to 3 [the magic number to determine whether a third out can occur on a non-scoring runner in any given scenario {we would have also accepted 1 runner + 2 outs, 2 runners + 1 out, or 3 runners + 0 outs}]), so HP Umpire Hoye will need to be aware of the timing of any runners potentially touching home plate relative to a tag out on the bases.

Similarly, we have a colloquial "force at any base" situation (yes, the batter-runner is technically not "forced out" at first base, but the mechanism of retirement [e.g., tagging the base] is the same for all runners here). All umpires will need to be aware of when the force is in play (e.g., prior to the fielder's interaction with the ball) and when the force is removed and on whom (e.g., the force on a preceding runner is removed when a trailing runner is retired).

We also have the potential for an infield fly as well as the intentional drop rule. Talk about a lot of moving parts!

Status of all base runners.
In this situation, batter Devers hits a line drive to the glove of Cano. Whitson judges "no catch" and signals "safe" to tell everyone as much. The ball wasn't purposely touched and guided to the ground by the fielder, so the intentional drop rule can be disgarded. At this time, we treat the play just like a ground ball to an infielder: we're still in "force at any base" mode.

The Mets move the ball to second base and the shortstop steps on second without touching R2. At this time, R1 has been retired via force out, which means R2 is no longer forced to advance to third base.

HP Umpire Hoye sees the touch.
As the Mets execute a rundown on R2, R3 touches home plate, noted by HP Umpire Hoye. The Mets then tag R2 for the final out of the inning as signaled by 3B Umpire and Crew Chief Mark Carlson, and Hoye properly signals that the run shall count.

Boston's (Offense) Mistake: For R2 Benintendi, once the defense steps on a base to retire a trailing runner, the force on preceding runners is removed. Once R1 is forced out, R2 is under no further obligation to advance...yet Benintendi does so anyway and thus runs Boston out of the inning. Kudos to R3 for hustling home before the final out.

New York's (Defense) Error: For F6 Rosario, R2 is forced to advance to third, so tagging R2—even while R2 is standing on second base—will result in a force out, after which stepping on second base will force out R1, resulting in an inning-ending double play (thus nullifying R3's potential run). However, touching the base to force out R1 prior to tagging R2 means that R2 is no longer forced to advance and would be safe if subsequently tagged while standing on second base (plus, R3's run will probably score prior to the third out of the inning...unless the batter-runner were to have somehow stumbled and fell prior to reaching first base).

Video as follows:
Alternate Link: Umpire Analysis of Compound Time Play in Boston (CCS)


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