Nation STATion: My one-run game

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Nation STATion: My one-run game

By Bill Chuck
CSNNE.com

Its a long season and when you spend as much time looking under the covers at stats you begin to focus on certain things. Lately, Ive been thinking about one run and Ive turned it into a series of my versions of one-run games.

For example, the home run with no one on base is a one-run homer. The Sox this year have hit a total of 141 homers and 86 have come with the bases empty. The most significant of these solo homers was Jacoby Ellsburys on August 3 against Cleveland, when he hit the only walkoff homer of the season for Boston.

Here are the Sox soloists:

Jacoby Ellsbury 14 solo homers
Adrian Gonzalez 13 solo homers
Dustin Pedroia - 12
David Ortiz - 12
Jarrod Saltalamacchia - 8
Josh Reddick - 4
Jason Varitek - 4
Carl Crawford - 4
Kevin Youkilis - 4
Mike Cameron - 3
J.D. Drew - 3
Darnell McDonald - 2
Marco Scutaro - 2
Yamaico Navarro 1

Just so you dont take homers with runners on base for granted, after last night the San Francisco Giants have hit 19 straight solo home runs, which ties the major league record set by the deadball 1914 Philadelphia Phillies. Their last homer with a runner on base was on July 6.

Homers are one means of scoring one run but there are many others from sac flies to a grounder when there is a runner on third and less than two outs. Admittedly its not easy to drive in a run, but it is easier to pick up an RBI when a runner is in scoring position. Thats why I like to exclude home runs and then see how many times a batter has driven in a run when there is only one runner on base and that runner is on first. So far this season the Sox have driven in a solo runner from first 25 times.

Here are the guys whove done it multiple times this season:

Adrian Gonzalez four times with two doubles and two triples.
David Ortiz four times with four doubles.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia three times with three doubles.
Kevin Youkilis three times with two doubles and a triple.
Carl Crawford twice with two doubles, one a walkoff.
Dustin Pedroia twice with two doubles.

Now to pull this off you need a combination of a well-hit ball, a good read by the runner on first, and good coaching at third. Interestingly, the runner has only been Ellsbury once and surprisingly Gonzo three times. Carl Crawford has done it three times, so has Youk. Tek and Reddick have done it twice each but you know who has done it most frequently, dont you? The Muddy Chicken, Dustin Pedroia, has scored from first six times this season on a hit and what makes it even more delicious is that four of the times there were less than two outs, so he wasnt off at contact.

Pitchers are part of my one run games as well. Sox pitchers have given up 107 homers this season and while a pitcher never wants to give up a gopher ball its at least better when its a solo shot and Sox pitchers have given up 67 of them.

Heres a look at how Sox pitchers have done limiting the damage of a homer:

Jon Lester has given up 16 homers, 14 have been solos.
Tim Wakefield has given up 18, 12 solo
John Lackey 1510
Clay Buchholz - 108
Josh Beckett 126
Alfredo Aceves 65
Daniel Bard 54
Matt Albers all 3 gophers were solos.
Daisuke Matsuzaka -42
Andrew Miller - 52
Jonathan Papelbon - 31
Franklin Morales has given up two homers, neither a solo while Bobby Jenks, Felix Doubront, and Kyle Weiland each gave up one homer and each had at least one runner on.

Heres another version of my one run game: scoring one run in a game. The Sox have scored one run 10 times and have won two of the games. The Sox pitchers have allowed just one run 11 times and have won 10 of the games.

Then theres the one run in an inning variation.

On 173 occasions this season, the Sox have scored exactly one run in an inning.
Heres the breakdown:

1st inning: 18 times they have scored one run
2nd inning: 20 times they have scored one run
3rd: 22 times they have scored one run
4th: 22 times they have scored one run
5th: 14 times they have scored one run
6th: 18 times they have scored one run
7th: 22 times they have scored one run
8th: 17 times they have scored one run
9th: 15 times they have scored one run
10th: 1 time they have scored one run
11th: 2 times they have scored one run
12th: Have not scored one run in this inning
13th: Have not scored one run in this inning
14th: 1 time they have scored one run
15th: Have not scored one run in this inning
16th: 1 time they have scored one run

On 164 occasions this season, the Sox have allowed exactly one run in an inning.

Heres the breakdown:

1st inning: 19 times they have allowed one run
2nd inning: 14 times they have allowed one run
3rd: 14 times they have allowed one run
4th: 19 times they have allowed one run
5th: 22 times they have allowed one run
6th: 20 times they have allowed one run
7th: 20 times they have allowed one run
8th: 17 times they have allowed one run
9th: 17 times they have allowed one run
10th: 1 time they have allowed one run
11th: 1 time they have allowed one run
12th: Have not allowed one run in this inning
13th: Have not allowed one run in this inning
14th: Have not allowed one run in this inning
15th: Have not allowed one run in this inning
16th: Have not allowed one run in this inning

The one-run games that everybody else tracks are more ordinary, more mundane and more simplistic: the Sox are 16-11 in one-run games outscoring the opposition, 94-89.
I like to think Nation STATion can have fun with even one run. The more you know, the more you understand about the game, and the more you appreciate your team.

See you next week.

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."

Bean: There's no way to spin a potential Ortiz return as a bad idea

Bean: There's no way to spin a potential Ortiz return as a bad idea

As if there weren’t enough storylines with the 2017 Red Sox, there figures to be the lingering possibility that, at any point, one of the franchise’s greatest hitters will return to make a push for his fourth World Series title.

As Pedro Martinez keeps saying, he won’t believe David Ortiz is retired until season’s end.

And with that possibility comes a good ol’ fashioned sports debate: You’re maybe the biggest lunatic in the whole wide world if you’re hoping for the latter.

There are exactly two potential downsides to Ortiz coming back. One is that the team would be worse defensively if it puts Hanley Ramirez in the field, a tradeoff that seemingly anyone would take if it meant adding Ortiz’ offense to the middle of the order. The other is that we would probably have to see Kenan Thompson’s Ortiz impression again . . . which, come to think of it, would be the worst. Actually, I might kill myself if that happens.  

All the other drawbacks are varying degrees of noise. It basically boils down to the “what if he isn’t good?” fear. Which may be valid, but it shouldn’t be reason enough to not want him to attempt a comeback.

Ortiz is coming off a 38-homer, 127-RBI 2016 in which he hit .315 with a league-best 1.021 OPS. It's probably the best final season of any hitter over the last 50 years.

We also know Ortiz is 41 and dealt with ankle and heel injuries so vast in recent years that he was “playing on stumps,” according to Red Sox coordinator of sports medicine services Dan Dyrek. There is the possibility that he was almost literally on his last legs in 2016 and that he doesn’t have another great season in him.

Unless Ortiz is medically incapable and/or not interested in returning, what would the harm be in rolling the dice? Is it a money thing? It really depends on just how intent the Sox are on staying under the luxury-tax threshold, but it’s hard to imagine that holding them up given that they’ve bobbed over and under the line throughout the years.

The one unacceptable argument is the legacy stuff, which expresses concern that Ortiz would tarnish his overall body of work if he came back for one last season and was relatively ineffective.  

If you think that five years after Ortiz is done playing, a single person will say, “Yeah, he’s a Hall of Famer; it’s just a shame he came back that for one last season,” you’re absolutely crazy. The fact that one could dwell that much on a legacy shows how much they romanticize the player, meaning that in however many years it's the 40-homer seasons, and not the potentially underwhelming few months in 2017, that will stand the test of time.

But he’ll have thrown away having one of the best final seasons ever for a hitter.

Oh man. That’s a life-ruiner right there. A 10-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion totally becomes just another guy if you take that away.

Plus, the fact that he’s a DH limits how bad it could really be. You won’t get the sight of an over-the-hill Willie Mays misplaying fly balls in the 1973 World Series after hitting .211 in the regular season. Ortiz will either be able to hit or he won’t, and if it’s the latter they’ll chalk it up to age and injuries and sit him down. Any potential decision to put him on the field in a World Series would likely mean his bat was worth it enough to get them to that point.

The Red Sox, on paper at least, have a real shot at another title. Teams in such a position should always go for broke. Ortiz has absolutely nothing left to prove, but if he thinks he has anything left to give, nobody but the fans who dropped 30-something bucks on T-shirts commemorating his retirement should have a problem with that.