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Bloops: Brendan Ryan’s “Infield Triple”

Posted by Steve Lombardi on August 3, 2011

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 at 4:11 pm and is filed under Bloops. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

55 Responses to “Bloops: Brendan Ryan’s “Infield Triple””

  1. Any chance of finding out how many times this has happened? I know it would be a tough search since it simply goes down as an infield single where Ryan advances to third, but it has to be extraordinarily rare.

  2. couldn't you search for plays with two FC's in them? i think that was how that got scored... i was listening to the A's radio play by play, and ken korach was just in utter bewilderment. after a few moments, he shared that they announced it was a single with two fielder's choices...

  3. Fielder's Choice requires an out to be made, so that doesn't make sense. I don't think that can be the correct scoring

  4. I'd think that triple would probably be the best way to score it, really. Great play on his part!

  5. Officially it went down as
    Single to SS (Ground Ball to Weak 3B); Ryan to 3B
    I've wanted to look up the rule that would cover this type of scoring but I just have not had the time.... anyone wants to look it up???

  6. FC does not require an out. You see it all the time. With a runner at first, a batter hits a soft infield ball and they try to get the out at second and fail. That's scored a FC usually, safe all around.

  7. An out doesn't need to be made on a fielder's choice. For example, if there is a runner on 1st with a ground ball hit in the infield. If the ball is thrown to second base and the runner beats the throw, then the batter gets credited with a fielder's choice, without an out recorded.

  8. @3
    No, you don't need an out for a fielders choice. If you hit a weak ground ball with a runner on first and the defense tries to get the lead runner and fails, the scorer will most likely score it as a fielders choice with everyone safe.

    The bb-ref PBP for this is not very descriptive:

    B. Ryan: "Single to SS (Ground Ball to Weak 3B); Ryan to 3B"

    Any play-by-play-scoring gurus know how this will eventually get logged in databases such as retrosheet?

  9. John Autin Says:

    I also haven't had a chance to look up the official scoring rule. But I'll guess that the ruling of "fielder's choice" will stand up to scrutiny. In each instance, the fielder who could have been covering the base that Ryan ran for, had decided to cover or back up a different base instead.

  10. DoubleDiamond Says:

    FC at home with the throw or tag coming too late and thus no out being recorded also happens fairly often. I think in this case the batter does not get an RBI, but I may be wrong - it may be an official scorer's judgment call, too.

  11. @JA: I think fielder's choice applies to the person holding the ball. Not to whomever could be covering a base or catching a ball.

  12. oneblankspace Says:

    I also remember a bunt double by Vince Coleman while the fielders were waiting for the ball to roll foul. That one was scored a double since the fielders did nothing.

  13. @10
    Batter should get an RBI for a FC-Safe-At-Home type of play. He'd get an RBI if they conceded the run and chose to retire him at first.

  14. Topper009 Says:

    You always get an RBI unless there is an error or a GIDP. If guys get doubles for lazy pop-ups that are lost in the sun Ryan should get a triple here. Its not really a fielders choice because in my opinion that would mean the defense chose to try and get a different runner out instead of Ryan which didnt happen. What did they rule for Johnny Damon when he did a similar thing in the playoffs recently? Sorry cant look it up now

  15. I don't think that was a FC. While I realize an out is not required, my understanding of a FC is that the defender (fielder) chose (chose) to pursue a different out. Whether or not he achieved it is irrelevant. The defenders weren't pursuing another out. Either they made a mental error (which I've never seen classified as a real error) or Ryan simply exploited a hole in the defensive alignment/approach. How is this any different than a guy stretching a single into a double because a fielder loafed after it. That is a double, no?

  16. johnny damon did it as two sb's...

    usatoday has this play listed as a "runner's fielder's choice" which i have never heard of... haha!

    "Brendan Ryan infield single to short. On the play, advances to third on a runner's fielder's choice"

  17. topper009 Says:

    The more I think about this, the closest situation I can think of is when a pitcher forgets to go from the stretch with runners on or the 1B forgets to hold the runner and he runs. In both instances the runner gets a SB, not a FC or even defensive indifference. The SB is earned by scrappyness instead of speed, same with Ryans most recent triple, in my opinion

  18. Unless you can charge an error to a fielder of not covering the bag (which I believe can be done, though I don't remember the exact circumstances right now), somebody owns Mr. Ryan a couple of bags in my book.

  19. I thought Johnny Damon's version of this was pretty cool.
    This to me, is way better.

    Miss you Ryan!

  20. If you read the article, Ryan mentions how balls hit deep into the hole often result in 2B being uncovered, since the SS is too deep in the whole to recover and the 2B is backing up 1st. Back in high school, we usually had the CF come in to cover 2B if need be, but we were obviously playing on smaller fields and the CF was playing much shallower. If Ryan is right, I wonder how often the base is available and players don't realize it or simply defer to conventional wisdom and don't even think to try. I could imagine the 3B making it over to 2B, since his momentum is taking him that way and the SS could circle around to cover 3B to prevent such holes from emerging.

  21. In his Historical Baseball Abstract Bill James speaks of seeing Alfredo Griffin score from second on a fly out and also of his going from 2nd to 3rd on a pop out to the short stop and of taking second after grounding into a force out, which would certainly be a fielder's choice. I remember Griffin (and Ozzie Guillen) being aggressive baserunners but I don't remember any one moment in particular.

  22. That should be a triple. There was no play on any other runner.

  23. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I really disagree with calling it a triple. But a fielder's choice feels quite unsatisfactory as well. (And the boxscore description is especially underwhelming.) Giving him two stolen bases seems most fair. I'm going to see if I can find the official definition of a SB in the rules.

  24. Live ball - a ball that He hit.
    No play on any other base. No errors.

    How is it any different from a 'triple' on a soft liner that the RightFielder dives for, totally misses, and rolls to the wall?

  25. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I'm no expert on scoring, but here are what seem to be the relevant rules.

    First, at 10.07: The official scorer shall credit a stolen base to a runner whenever the runner advances one base unaided by a hit, a putout, an error, a force-out, a fielder’s choice, a passed ball, a wild pitch or a balk....

    So the question is whether the defensive play constituted a fielder's choice (which seems to be the ruling) or an error.

    At 2.00: FIELDER’S CHOICE is the act of a fielder who handles a fair grounder and, instead of throwing to first base to put out the batter-runner, throws to another base in an attempt to put out a preceding runner. The term is also used by scorers (a) to account for the advance of the batter-runner who takes one or more extra bases when the fielder who handles his safe hit attempts to put out a preceding runner; (b) to account for the advance of a runner (other than by stolen base or error) while a fielder is attempting to put out another runner; and (c) to account for the advance of a runner made solely because of the defensive team’s indifference (undefended steal).

    There was no attempt to put out a preceding runner. So by this definition, it should only qualify as a fielder's choice if there was defensive indifference.

    Defensive indifference is defined at 10.07(g). The comment is lengthy, but for the record I'll include most of it here: The scorer shall consider, in judging whether the defensive team has been indifferent to a runner’s advance, the totality of the circumstances, including the inning and score of the game, whether the defensive team had held the runner on base, whether the pitcher had made any pickoff attempts on that runner before the runner’s advance, whether the fielder ordinarily expected to cover the base to which the runner advanced made a move to cover such base, whether the defensive team had a legitimate strategic motive to not contest the runner’s advance or whether the defensive team might be trying impermissibly to deny the runner credit for a stolen base. For example, with runners on first and third bases, the official scorer should ordinarily credit a stolen base when the runner on first advances to second, if, in the scorer’s judgment, the defensive team had a legitimate strategic motive— namely, preventing the runner on third base from scoring on the throw to second base—not to contest the runner’s advance to second base.

    I just don't see how Oakland was "indifferent" to the advance. They absolutely cared if he advanced. Perhaps one could argue that "the fielder ordinarily expected to cover the base to which the runner advanced [did not make] a move to cover such base." But I think he/they did. They were just late in doing it. They are scrambling all over the field, too late.

    So I don't think this play qualifies as a fielder's choice, but please correct my interpretation of the rules.

    While this type of play would never get called an error, could it be defined as one? Errors are defined at 10.12. Subsection (a)(1) defines as error as a "misplay," further defined as a "fumble, muff, or wild throw." This does not apply. In the following comment, it says The official scorer shall not score mental mistakes or misjudgments as errors unless a specific rule
    prescribes otherwise. ... The official scorer shall not charge an error if the pitcher fails to cover first base on a play, thereby
    allowing a batter-runner to reach first base safely.
    So failure to cover a base is not an error.

    I'm not going to copy the entirety of 10.12, but definitions of errors all have to do with drops, bad throws, failure to make a tag when the throw is in time. I can't see how there's an error to be charged here.

    So if it's not a fielder's choice, and it's not an error, what else can it be? Look again at 10.07: The official scorer shall credit a stolen base to a runner whenever the runner advances one base unaided by a hit, a putout, an error, a force-out, a fielder’s choice, a passed ball, a wild pitch or a balk.... None of those exceptions exist (by my interpretation). There is no rule stating that the stolen base must occur on a pitch. Think of the delayed steal, after all, when a catcher is caught napping while lobbing the ball back to the pitcher. Or think of Johnny Damon's double steal in the '09 Series. The steal of third (and it was credited as a steal) does not occur on a pitch, but during defensive "play," just like the Ryan play.

  26. @25, cool, great research.
    Actually, I don't think it should be a triple.

    It should be a Double and an FC.

    It looks like the 3B tried to cover 2nd.
    There's the FC, as he put himself out of position to cover his bag.

    The advance to 2nd, though?
    The SS was just deep in the hole and the 2B was backing up 1st.
    Nobody was out of position. It was just a hustle play to get to 2nd.

    Or maybe I'm wrong. I never played the left side in infield (except in co-ed softball). On a play where the SS goes deep in the hole, is the 3B Supposed to cover 2nd to prevent that? Maybe the 3B was napping on his duties. In which case, is that an FC?

    Is not making a choice still making a choice?
    I think that question has been pondered in a song.

  27. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I'll look at the definition of a triple.

    At 10.06(a), The official scorer shall score a base hit ... when no error or putout results, as follows: ... it a three-base hit if the batter stops at third base....

    So, by that definition, I guess one *could* call it a triple. Except, I would argue that Ryan stopped at first base. He overran the base, he turned around, he slowly walked back, before he started running again. I think he had stopped at first, and then started again.

    10.06 continues on, but I don't see any other applicable commentary.

    My vote remains for two stolen bases.

  28. Johnny, the rules say an SB has to be an advance unaided by a hit, etc...
    Ryan hit the ball that was in play. You can't get an SB on a live ball that you yourself hit.

  29. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Well, that's a fair point, though I don't think the language is definitive. I don't think the "advance" was aided by the hit. He had gotten the hit, and the play was essentially over, though the ball was still live. He then advanced without any hit moving him along.

    Tough to say.

  30. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Here's what it boils down to for me. Ryan *made* the play. It seems like he should be credited for that. A fielder's choice doesn't properly reward the player for creating something that didn't exist.

  31. Ryan said that he had done this before, so what did he get credit for before? A double, or a single and FC????

  32. @28 Ryan's advance to first was aided by a hit. But his advance to second and then third wasn't.

    It should either be a triple or a single and two stolen bases. I lean toward the latter because he stopped at first.

  33. @29 & 32,
    I can almost see the logic of that, but his ability to take those bases (at least, 2nd) was aided by the hit in that the hit took the basemen out of position to cover. It was not a neutral baserunning scenario.

    The first extra base was just hustle.
    The second extra base has to be the result of a fielder making the wrong positional choice when Ryan took 2nd.

    That's why I say Double and FC.
    In a good compromise everybody comes away unhappy.

  34. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    I don't understand why the 2B backs up first in a way that means he can't cover second when the shortstop is deep in the hole? If there's an error at 1B, the question is whether they can keep the runner from reaching second -- they will never make a clean play at first. If there is no error at 1B, then there is no need for backup, either runner is safe or out on the play at first. If necessary, shouldn't it be the pitcher's job to back up first in order to avoid just this sort of situation?

  35. @25

    I think this part of the defensive indifference describes exactly why it should be defensive indifference.

    "whether the fielder ordinarily expected to cover the base to which the runner advanced made a move to cover such base,"

  36. JT-

    Excellent analysis and research. I probably lean toward the triple, only because there are a variety of circumstances where a guy hits a ball that normally wouldn't result in an XBH but he achieves one anyway through circumstance and is credited as such. This is just a far rarer occurrence. But, I don't object too strongly to a single and two SBs. As you said, Ryan made the play happen and, as such, should be credited with reaching third safely.

    To those questioning the defensive assignments, I will say that defenders have a multitude of responsibilities on plays that we are often unaware of because they happen off-camera. Typically, on plays to the left side of the infield, the 2B, C, and RF are all involved in backing up first. Whether that is the ideal strategy is a worthy conversation to have, but it is convention. With a player on 1B, obviously the 2B moves towards second on a ball to the left side. Individual teams also have their variances, particularly on bunt coverage. If, as Ryan contends, it is common that second base is completely open on plays hit into the 3B/SS hole, that could be a major hole to exploit. It might also cause teams to re-think their defensive assignments.

    In general, I feel like there are often situations where players can take an extra base but "convention" dictates otherwise. I feel like a lot of singles could possibly be doubles if guys ran out of the box and didn't presume that certain types of hits to certain areas of the field were singles and no more. Convention is a fickle beast...

  37. So, how about a single, a steal of second and third on a FC?

  38. Johnny Twisto Says:

    his ability to take those bases (at least, 2nd) was aided by the hit in that the hit took the basemen out of position to cover.

    Hmm. I can see that.

  39. What do the retrosheet guys think of this play? They've seen 60+ years of play-by-play data.

  40. Topper009 Says:

    Based on no definitive language in the rule book (which is often ignored in practice anyways) and the precedence of XBHs being awarded for dumb things like players losing the ball in the sun, falling over, making ill-advised dives, running into each other, thinking the other guy will catch it etc, this is a triple. It is far less cheap than getting an inside the park HR when some dumb outfielder takes a bad angle and dives and the ball bounces in a weird direction.

    It should read Ryan infield triples to deep SS/3B

  41. Topper009 Says:

    Also he clearly didnt stop at 1B, he just paused there. He stopped at third

  42. add my vote for defensive indifference.

    while you could say that the a's "cared" if he advanced, they didn't show it. actions speak louder than words. also, i think the wording is only if it satisfies one of those conditions - not all of them.

  43. @Topper009: but he did stop at second - he slid into 2nd base.

  44. Johnny Twisto Says:

    defensive indifference. -- i think the wording is only if it satisfies one of those conditions - not all of them.

    The rules says "the scorer shall consider, in judging whether the defensive team has been indifferent to a runner’s advance, the totality of the circumstances."

  45. John Autin Says:

    Quite a discussion! I continue to be amazed at all the things that are not covered clearly in the rulebook.

    FWIW, I'm changing my vote to JT's position -- single and 2 stolen bases. Since the rules don't definitively address the situation, I'm going by the spirit of the various terms under consideration.
    -- I just can't see it as a triple; I've never seen or heard of a hit that was scored a triple when there was a play on the batter-runner at second base, much less first.
    -- It doesn't fit under the common understanding of a fielder's choice.
    -- The defense was not indifferent to his advancement.
    -- While I believe that the rules should allow a mental mistake to be scored as an error, they explicitly say otherwise, so it can't be an error.
    -- As JT noted, the definition of a stolen base does not require that it take place during a pitch or while the pitcher is holding the ball.

    I think the delayed steal is the best analogy. Ryan took advantage of a defense that was not prepared for him to run to the next base. That's a stolen base.

    There may yet emerge a stronger argument based on the letter of the rules, but until I hear it, I think that "single + 2 SB" is the best common-sense description.

  46. @37 and 45,

    The full definition of stolen base @ rule 10.07
    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/official_info/official_rules/official_scorer_10.jsp

    All of the language refers to a steal attempt taking place when the pitcher has the ball, during a pitch, or after a pitch. Of course a triple on a ground ball to SS seems silly, but awarding a SB during a live play after a batted ball just does not fit within the framework of the rules.

    Didn't Reyes get a triple earlier this year on a ducksnort that traveled 135 feet? These things happen.

    Double for the hustle, FC to get to third.
    The SS and 3B both tried to cover second. Bad communication there.

  47. [...] [Rounding up the day's action while still pondering the scoring of Brendan Ryan's "infield triple"....] [...]

  48. By the official scoring rules, it can't be a FC since there were no other runners to make plays on. It can't be a SB or two because the pitcher did not have the ball in the set position after Ryan reached first. The only way to score it, by rule, is a triple. That's what the rule says.

    BTW, if this was ruled a triple, it would be the first infield triple since either 1964 or 1965 (Frank Howard hit a bunt triple in one of those years, which was discussed on the bunt doubles topic a while ago.)

  49. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Brendan, is there a rule that says the pitcher must have the ball for it to be considered a SB? I know the rule on SB gives examples which relate to it occurring during a pitch, but I don't see it actually defined that way.

  50. Johnny Twisto Says:

    And of course, it *was* ruled as a FC. Maybe the scorer erred in that, but that's what it stands as now.

  51. @ 48 Frank Howard was awarded a triple when the pitcher threw his glove at the ball. This also happened on May 28, 2005 when Luis Terrero was awarded a triple. In the game log it was ruled "Triple to P/Interference called (Ground Ball)" Luis Terrero‚ batting against Duaner Sanchez‚ hits a bouncer up the middle that goes high over Sanchez's head. Sanchez throws his glove at the ball and hits it‚ knocking it down.

  52. Jeter should have thrown his glove at that bloop by Lugo in October,2001.

    Hey, and I figured that all the MLB brass read the posts on this site.
    Why hasn't this discussion led to B.Ryan getting his xbh?

  53. Brendan Burke Says:

    @ 51 I am completely aware of the circumstances of the Howard and Terrero plays. Actually, Terrero's was likely shorter than Ryan's as well if it was the pitcher who threw the glove.

    As a sidenote to that rule, throwing the glove with the ball in it (a la Tommy John) IS A TRIPLE. The ump fucked that one up in the John incident.

  54. John Autin Says:

    @46, Voomo -- After a close re-reading of rule 10.17, I completely disagree with your analysis. Your claim that "All of the language refers to a steal attempt taking place when the pitcher has the ball, during a pitch, or after a pitch," is just not true.

    1. The opening clause -- i.e., the primary definition of a stolen base -- makes no reference to the play happening during a pitch. Here is that opening:

    ----------------
    The official scorer shall credit a stolen base to a runner whenever the runner advances one base unaided by a hit, a putout, an error, a force-out, a fielder's choice, a passed ball, a wild pitch or a balk, subject to the following:
    ----------------

    2. "Subject to the following" introduces a set of individual restrictions and qualifications, namely, paragraphs (a) through (h). Only paragraphs (a) and (b) refer to your characterization of the steal, and only by way of defining specific instances in which the official scorer should not charge an error, wild pitch or passed ball. Those paragraphs are not in any way defining what is a stolen base. And paragraphs (c) through (h) make no reference to a pitch.

  55. I dunno John, it seems that (c) - (g) omit reference to the fact that the attempt comes from the 'standard' scenario because that has already been established. And the comment-addendum to (h) does refer to a pitched ball.

    Regardless of us trying to deconstruct the extended SB rules, I feel that my argument against the SB is made in the very first line, where it says "...unaided by a hit..."

    Ryan hit the ball. It was his hit. It was a live ball. He got to second because the clean hit took the SS and 2B men out of position.

    I do see your argument, though. And I think a case could be made for the SB for Ryan to get to third. That makes more sense than an FC, both w/r/t to the rules, and as a means of rewarding Ryan for his smarts and hustle.

    Would love to see Officials for MLB to get involved in all of these discussions. This is the best baseball website, after all.