Inherited Runners

ever need this when watching a game?

ever need this when watching a game?

Baseball has some strange rules. Some of them go so far as to make a mockery of statistics, giving out good stats for a failed performance. Take the following, for instance:

Our heroic pitcher, ole “Speedball” Smith has pitched a masterpiece. He’s gone eight shutout innings. He’s walked two, one of which was thrown out stealing. He’s struck out seven and allowed three hits, all singles. Now it’s the top of the ninth and here comes “Speedy” to open the inning. He’s greeted with a little roller that’s headed right to our second baseman “Butterfingers” Bungler. It’s close, but the runner slips into first just ahead of the throw for the fourth hit of the day for the bad guys.

It’s crisis time for our beloved manager “Sweatshirt” Grimes. It looks like “Speedy” is tiring, so out pops “Sweaty” to the mound. After a brief conversation he motions to the bullpen for his righty. In comes our intrepid reliever “Bicarb” Jones. He enters to the accompaniment of the organ grinding out “Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz, Oh, what a relief it is.”.  Jones takes a few warm up tosses, then fans the first batter. He strikes out the second, then grooves one to the third batter who proceeds to triple into center. The runner on first scores standing up. Then Jones strikes out the next batter and the half inning ends with us guys losing. And in the bottom of the ninth the team pops three straight pitches to the shortstop and the game ends with us still losing. Bummer, right?

But hang on a minute. There’s more bummer to follow here. Think for a moment about what happens to the stat lines of both pitchers in the situation above. “Speedball” picks up a couple of positive stats: strikeouts, innings pitched. He also gets a few negative stats: walks, hits, a run, and a loss. His ERA probably goes down after giving up one run in eight innings, but it’s possible it might go up depending on how early in the season we’re talking about. So it’s quite a mixed bag for ole “Speedy.”

Now take a look at what happens to “Bicarb’s” stats. He gets almost all positive. He gets  an inning pitched, he adds three strikeouts, and his ERA drops. His only negative is that he gave up a hit. In the situation above there was no save situation so he gets no “blown save” either. But he doesn’t get a “hold” either, you say. True, but there’s no “botched hold” stat to reflect “Bicarb” not doing his job well.

I’ve always disliked the “inherited runners” rule. I understand why it’s there and I understand how the “blown save” rule can assist in punishing the reliever who gives up the hit that scores the inherited base runner.  But sometimes the blown save rule just doesn’t apply and that seems a little unfair. Now I know that if “Sweatshirt” (in the situation above) is a good manager, he doesn’t let good ole “Bicarb” pitch much again if this is a common problem, but not every manager is Casey Stengel and only contemporaries are going to understand why Jones didn’t do a lot of pitching in the latter part of the season because his stat line won’t reflect the problem.

I have no idea how to change the rule. I accept that the guy who put the runner on base needs to have his stats adversely effected, but I kind of wish they’d dun the reliever’s stats also. Just a tirade for you to think about.


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4 Responses to “Inherited Runners”

  1. William Miller Says:

    The problem with trying to personalize stats, which baseball does so much of, is that sometimes a team stat would make more sense. For example, sometimes, a starting pitcher gives up six earned runs in a game and gets the “win.” Obviously, he didn’t pitch very well, but he got enough run support to earn the “W.” It should just go in the books as a team win, with no particular pitcher getting credit for it. Likewise, if an inherited runner scores due to a hit given up by a relief pitcher, perhaps the run shouldn’t count against either pitcher, but simply go in the books as a run the TEAM surrendered.
    Just a thought,

  2. glenrussellslater Says:

    Nice writing and humorous as well!

    I think it’s “plop plop fizz fizz”, though.

    I got the reference to “Speedy” immediately. Speedy Alka Seltzer.

    Not only would only would Casey Stengel understand it, but can you imagine him trying to explain it?


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