Yep, outfield defense matters

Dave · October 1, 2007 at 6:47 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Next time I ramble on about defense (like tomorrow, for instance) and you begin to think “man, this guy really overrates defense”, watch the 6th inning from tonight’s Rockies-Padres game again, and then call me. The Milton Bradley injury didn’t help, but if Mike Cameron’s in center field for San Diego today, they’re still winning this ballgame.

8th inning update: Yea, outfield defense still matters.


97 Responses to “Yep, outfield defense matters”

  1. shortbus on October 1st, 2007 9:30 pm

    Man I’m glad I watched this one. Hopefully this bodes well for a post-season that won’t involve the M’s. Except for the scouts that will no doubt be looking for washed-up pitchers that turn it on for the playoffs. We need more of those guys.

  2. Paul L on October 1st, 2007 9:30 pm

    Blown call at the plate – he was out.

  3. shortbus on October 1st, 2007 9:32 pm

    What’s bizzare is the ump’s hesitation to make the call. Of course he does that on every strike call as well…which really stinks.

    It really looks like he didn’t have the balls to call him out after making the safe call and the fans going berzerk. The league needs to institute a new signal for “didn’t make the tag” that’s different from the “safe” call.

  4. djw on October 1st, 2007 9:33 pm

    Yeah, but the game never should have gone to extra innings, the rockies had a HR called a double in the 8th that never scored.

    Absent a Mariners presence, I’m rooting for the Rockies now.

  5. hub on October 1st, 2007 9:34 pm

    A question: since the catcher dropped the ball while still blocking the plate…is that a potential ‘interference’ play at Home? He never had control of the ball. Is that why the umpire called Holliday safe?

  6. Paul L on October 1st, 2007 9:35 pm

    You know, thinking about this more it really annoys me that McLellan blew this. I mean, really – what other job does he have there other than to see if the guy blocked the plate.

    I already didn’t like him because I think the only reason he hesitates on his calls is to be the center of attention. This just makes it worse.

    Terrible way to end a great game.

  7. Paul L on October 1st, 2007 9:37 pm

    #55: no. the problem there is that the ump usually hesitates to indicate the play is still live, ie there was no tag and the guy still hasn’t hit the plate.

    Unfortunately, in this case the call was delayed because the ump wanted to be the center of attention.

    I have no stake in the game at all; I truly don’t care who won. But this was a screwed up way to end it, especially since the ump was 3ft from the friggin play.

  8. hub on October 1st, 2007 9:39 pm

    So is it OK for a catcher to defensively block a plate at all times, even if he doesn’t have the ball?

  9. shortbus on October 1st, 2007 9:40 pm

    Pads didn’t deserve to win anyway after bunting a guy over from first TWICE. The first time was the worst with Gonzalez on deck. That and the terrible outing by Hoffman. But that call sucked.

  10. Whaler on October 1st, 2007 9:41 pm

    #55: That is correct. You can’t block the plate without the ball. The umpires generally give the benefit of the doubt to the fielder (catcher) if they catch the ball while blocking the plate even if contact is made before the ball is caught, but in this case, Barrett never caught the ball, so he has no right to impede the runner. The ump probably hesitated because technically because the ball is still in play, but he was going to be safe regardless.

  11. hub on October 1st, 2007 9:43 pm

    60: It sure would open up a can of worms if catchers could ‘defend’ home plate without having/holding/catching the baseball. They could ‘wrestle’ for possession while the other fielders tag the runner out.

  12. Tek Jansen on October 1st, 2007 9:43 pm

    I agree with #57 that the ump did not call him safe because of interference, although I certainly think that he could have. The catcher, who did not have possession of the baseball, physically prevented the runner from touching the base. It is not OK for catchers to do this, even though they do it all the time. It is similar to Guillen’s illegal slides in that respect.

  13. Paul L on October 1st, 2007 9:44 pm

    #60: huh? That was a bang-bang play. There’s no way it was interference. I can see if the guy beats the throw and the catcher acts like an offensive lineman, but that’s not what happened here.

    Plus, I believe there’s a sign the ump would make other than the safe sign if it was interference.

  14. CCW on October 1st, 2007 9:46 pm

    He might have touched the plate, actually. I still haven’t seen a camera angle with as good of a view as McLellan had. I have a stake in the game. Go Rocks!

  15. Paul L on October 1st, 2007 9:48 pm

    #64: LOL. Here’s to you. I loathe most things Colorado due to the Broncos, but these guys (especially Helton) seem like a bunch of good guys.

  16. CCW on October 1st, 2007 9:50 pm

    Oh, and interference was completely not an issue there. He caught the ball (or thought he did), he blocked the plate. Catchers break the rules all the times on plays similar to that. THAT particular play, though, was totally fine.

  17. Whaler on October 1st, 2007 9:52 pm

    He did not catch the throw; it rolled past him. There is no question it was interference by definition:

    Rule 7.06
    NOTE: The catcher, without the ball in his possession, has no right to block the pathway of the runner attempting to score. The base line belongs to the runner and the catcher should be there only when he is fielding a ball or when he already has the ball in his hand.

  18. Whaler on October 1st, 2007 9:53 pm

    Sorry, technically it is “obstruction” not “interference”.

  19. Tek Jansen on October 1st, 2007 9:55 pm

    #66 – No fielder, including catcher can block the plate because he “thinks” he has the ball. Thinking one has the ball may make the interference unintentional, but it still prevents the runner from reaching a base or home plate. And unless there is some provision in the rules of which I am unaware, fielders cannot impede the runner’s path to a base or home plate without the ball.

  20. hub on October 1st, 2007 9:57 pm

    It’ll be fun listening to the umpire’s take…either way. I’m curious what his response will be.

  21. CCW on October 1st, 2007 9:57 pm

    He wasn’t “fielding the ball”? There are plenty of times when catchers block the plate long before the ball gets there, but in this case the ball and runner arrived at approximately the same time, didn’t they. My wife’s using the Tivo for Dancing With the Stars, so I don’t have rewind capabilities…

  22. Whaler on October 1st, 2007 10:04 pm

    Fielding a ball is playing a batted ball. Fielders have right of way, even in the basepaths, of batted balls. So if this was a squeeze and the ball was bunted up the 3rd base line, the catcher can be there.

    Yes, as I said earlier, umpires usually give the benefit of the doubt to catchers to plant themselves to block the plate and block the runner and catch the throw at the same time. Technically, if the runner is impeded before the catcher has the ball, it is obstruction. But in this case, the catcher didn’t ever have the ball until he went back to get it well after the block, so there’s really no question.

  23. Tom on October 1st, 2007 10:06 pm

    #45: I’ll take Danny Baez as my set up man, thank you.

  24. Doc Baseball on October 1st, 2007 10:08 pm

    the rule is that the fielder (catcher in this case) must be making a play on the ball — he definitely does NOT need to be in possession of the ball — he is fully within his rights to block the plate as long as he is directly in the act of making a play on the ball. Umpires have to make the judgment about whether he is “making a play” but generally speaking, it will be considered to be “making a play” if the ball is in flight and is between the mound and your base.

  25. hub on October 1st, 2007 10:10 pm

    #73: No reason they can’t have BOTH.


  26. Doc Baseball on October 1st, 2007 10:15 pm

    as I looked at the replay, the block was legal, and it did prevent runner from touching the plate, and the runner should have been called out, and the umpire’s delayed signal was an error — a delayed signal like that means that the runner did not touch the base and the fielder did not apply the tag, thus no safe or out has yet occurred. McClelland is a great umpire in general but he blew that call both in fact and with the delayed signal that was then hurriedly declared as a “safe”.

  27. CCW on October 1st, 2007 10:18 pm

    Sorry, Whalen, I just watched a replay. You’re full of it. Barrett was obviously in the act of trying to catch the ball just as Holliday was sliding into home. He was clearly trying to make a play on – fielding – the ball. It was in his glove at the very moment that Holliday was supposedly touching home. No obstruction. No interference. That’s a red herring and a non-issue in here.

  28. Adam S on October 1st, 2007 10:27 pm

    I didn’t see the play, but IIRC “fielding a ball” and “catching a throw” are two different things as the baseball rules go. If it’s a squeeze bunt, the catcher can be in the baseline to field the bunt, for example. DMZ discussed blocking the plate (illegally) in his book and/or on his blog.

  29. Whaler on October 1st, 2007 10:33 pm

    Sorry, I had the part of the rule wrong about “fielding a ball” meaning just a batted ball.

    Rule 2.00 (Obstruction) Comment: If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he may be considered “in the act of fielding a ball.”

    So if, in order to recieve the throw, the fielder needs to be in path of the runner, he can be in the way.

  30. shortbus on October 1st, 2007 10:39 pm

    An umpire that calls obstruction on a play like that gets crucified…whatever the rulebook says. Catchers are routinely allowed to block the plate when in the act of receiving a throw. It’s just part of the game as actually called on the field, like the phantom tag at second.

    Reports are that Atkins’ double was a home run, so this can be considered a perfectly reasonable makeup call. Rockies should have won in 9.

  31. hub on October 1st, 2007 10:44 pm

    I truly hope DMZ comes to this thread and, as opposed to quoting/explaining the rule to us, instead pulls a Canseco: “Buy my book…its all right there.”

    For this debate alone, its worth the purchase price.

  32. Tek Jansen on October 1st, 2007 11:04 pm

    #s 79 and 80 are both correct, in my opinion. The catcher did not “need” to block the plate to recieve the throw, but the correct interpretation of the rule is never enforced. But if McClelland was anal enough to take away George Brett’s homerun because Brett had too much pine tar, he could have called obstruction on Barrett.

  33. CCW on October 1st, 2007 11:06 pm

    I still can’t believe, with all the cameras, there wasn’t one looking down on that situation that could show us whether his hand touched home. I certainly didn’t see it touch home, but then, it did look like Barrett’s foot moved quite a ways backwards, so I’m not ruling it out. Whatever. The Rockies are awesome. I feel bad for the Padres, but they’re boring compared to the Rocks. Go Rocks!

  34. dw on October 1st, 2007 11:10 pm

    The pic on the ESPN home page right now shows that the ball was already squirting away from Barrett before Holliday collided with his foot. So, McClelland could have called obstruction.

  35. HamNasty on October 1st, 2007 11:16 pm

    I was at the game and there were 3 instances where Mike Cameron catches a ball and the Rockies end up losing. Glad Milton Bradley hurt him, that was CRAZY!!! Jorge Julio’s life was saved by the 3 runs in the bottom I think. GO ROCKIES!

  36. HamNasty on October 1st, 2007 11:33 pm

    That Fangraphs is ridiculous! Check the WPA for Hoffman… that a new record?

  37. Doc Baseball on October 1st, 2007 11:51 pm

    Not only would umpires not call obstruction as a matter of tradition, but there was no obstruction on that play. It is not as if Barrett got away with something illegal. He was making a play on the ball and thus had full legal rights to move to block the plate in the act of catching the ball (regardless of whether he held on to it or not). There is no interpretation that requires “needing” to block the plate in order to avoid being called for obstruction — as long as the fielder is making a play on the ball and the ball is around the plate, he is free to block the plate — he does not have to allow any room for the runner, or make the catch with his foot out of the way just because he might be able to do so. So there is no “cheating” or anything phantom going on here. Blocking the plate is fully legal (in addition to being traditional), as long as the catcher is in the act of making a play on the ball.

  38. joser on October 2nd, 2007 12:22 am

    it did look like Barrett’s foot moved quite a ways backwards

    Yeah, that was my “3rd look” conclusion too. Something pushed that foot back pretty violently, and it clearly was the runners’ arm. Since the foot was on plate, and the arm pushed it back by sliding on the ground, I have to believe it touched the plate. I think that was the right call.

  39. joser on October 2nd, 2007 12:26 am

    WRT whether or not he tagged the plate:

    Said Padres manager Bud Black : ”It looked to me like he did get it.”

    Whether that’s what Black actually thinks or not, it’s a classy thing to say. Water under the bridge, nothing you can do it about now.

  40. rrose on October 2nd, 2007 12:31 am


    I agree, I noticed the same thing, that the catcher’s foot slid backwards across the plate as Holliday collided with it on the slide through. I’m not sure Holliday touched the plate, but from that angle, it certainly looked like he could have, and in fact, that appeared to be the more likely outcome to me. At any rate, I don’t think it was nearly as cut and dried as the view along the 3rd base line would suggest.

  41. Doc Baseball on October 2nd, 2007 12:48 am

    Photo # 8 here seems to confirm that Holliday did NOT get to the plate (Barrett appears to have his hand fully blocked off it).

  42. Doc Baseball on October 2nd, 2007 12:50 am

    that’s photo #8 out of the gallery of 150 photos near the bottom

  43. skyking162 on October 2nd, 2007 6:38 am

    #42 — Yes, the good fielding metrics account for the possibility of extra-base hits. It’s an issue for 1B and 3B’s, too.

    Just have to say that I love the props fielding is getting here the past couple days. Regarding Tulo vs. Braun, it’s not even close. Braun’s got a 15-20 runs offensive advantage, while Tulo’s got a 30-50 run defensive advantage.

    In 2006, Ken Griffey was about 30 runs below average for a CF according to UZR, making his overall value worse than replacement level (.313 OBP & .486 SLG in “only” 470 PAs).

  44. G-Man on October 2nd, 2007 8:33 am

    Doc, I think you mean photo #9. Good find.

  45. Doc Baseball on October 2nd, 2007 9:11 am

    Yeah — funny — it was Photo #8 and then they somehow stuck a photo of Kim Jong-il on the top of the pile of baseball photos — wild — now it is photo #9

  46. The Ancient Mariner on October 2nd, 2007 9:21 am

    Re #61: That’s how it was in baseball’s early days (and not just at home plate, either — read some of the stories of McGraw’s Orioles, who were known to bump, trip, block, and tackle runners all the way around the diamond).

  47. DMZ on October 2nd, 2007 9:26 am

    Not as true as you might think. McGraw and catchers blocking the plate – It’s all in my book, “The Cheater’s Guide to Baseball”. Check it out.

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