Let’s try something different. I was at the Mets 6-3 win over the Dodgers last night as a media-person; here are two moments from the game, as explained by the players involved. No idea if this works, or if it’s even interesting, but hey, why not:
Bottom of the 7th inning, Mets ahead 5-3: With one out and David Wright at the plate, Jose Reyes stole second base, moving into scoring position. Two batters later, Reyes came home on Jason Bay’s single to left, putting the Mets up 6-3. It was Reyes’ 12th steal of the season in 14 attempts, a 85.7% success rate, his best since he was 19 for 21 in steals in 2004. For reference, the break even rate on steals is around 70-75%, meaning that is a runner is successful in fewer than 7 out of 10 attempts, the outs outweigh the steals and his stolen base attempts are counterproductive. Reyes’ baserunning this season, steals and otherwise, has been worth about 3 runs by Baseball-Prospectus’ count, trailing just the Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki and the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp for the major league lead.
“I’m thinking about stealing every time. Always thinking about it,” said Reyes after the game.
I pointed out his high success rate on steals, asking if he was being more selective this year. (Reyes was 30 for 40 in steal attempts last season, right at the break even point. As such, his attempts added no runs to the Mets’ offense according, the caught-stealings outweighing the successes.)
“You have to pick your spots. Especially because when I get to first base, pitchers are always quicker to the plate,” said Reyes, indicating that he has become more selective. “But when I was younger, I used to run all the time.” He pointed out that he was probably a step slower now due to putting on more muscle, weighing 196 pounds today against 170 when he was twenty, another motivation to pick his spots.
I then asked Reyes if anyone had talked to him about picking his spots, wondering if the new front office was trying to implement sabermetric strategies on the field. (Everyone loves a good Moneyball conspiracy.)
“No, it’s not something anyone has talked to me about,” said Reyes, explaining it was just something he was doing on his own. “You don’t want to get thrown out, you know? That doesn’t do any good.”
Top the 8th inning, Mets ahead 6-3: With two outs and no one on base, the Dodgers’ Jamey Carroll hit a ground ball up the middle and to the right of second base. Going to his left, Daniel Murphy fielded the ball, took two steps and made a leaping throw across his body to retire Carroll. For lack of a better term, it was one of those Derek Jeter jump-throw things. (Visual learners: the video is here.) For someone who plays second base like a tourist with a pocket dictionary and a few memorized phrases speaks French, it was a welcome moment of proficiency for Murphy.
“It’s something I’ve been working on,” said Murphy about the jump-throw. “If your momentum is carrying you away, the jump is something you can do to gather yourself.” He added that he’s only been working on the leap since spring training, as he didn’t have the arm strength to make any similar throw from third base, his natural position (if any position is “natural” for Murphy).
I asked Murphy why make a jump-throw when moving away from first base, instead of planting with his right leg and throwing, pointing out Jose Reyes as an example of someone who almost exclusively plants and throws from the hole at shortstop — the idea being that while planting takes more time, as one has to set their feet, the resulting throw will be stronger and less parabolic.
“Umm,” Murphy replied, staring at his shoes for a moment, this apparently being the first time he had even considered it. (I bailed him out by suggesting it was just a personal choice, which he happily agreed that it was.)
Murphy added that he doesn’t quite feel like he can play second base yet, but he’s getting there.
“It’s still a learning process,” he said.
There you go: two little plays in last night’s game explained. Interesting? Not interesting? Lemme know in comment form, if you so desire.