On Saturday, the Cardinals battled back from deficits of 6-1 and 8-3 to find themselves trailing by just one run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Yadier Molina had just singled off Mets closer Edwin Diaz. Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty came in off the bench to pinch run. Kolten Wong hit a high blooper that found its way in between second baseman Jeff McNeil and a diving Michael Conforto. Flaherty, showing some of his inexperience on the basepaths, twice looked back at the play instead of focusing on third base coach Pop Warner as he was heading toward third base when the ball hit the ground. He then ran for home.
This is how the play moved forward from there.
We can see Flaherty stumble a bit at third, though that stumble doesn’t look like it made a huge difference as the throw beat Flaherty by about 10 feet. With the benefit of hindsight, we know that the decision to send Flaherty ended the baseball game and handed the Mets a victory. As for the decision-making at the time of Warner’s choice to send Flaherty home, that deserves a closer examination.
The first step in looking at the decision to try and tie the game is establishing how much benefit the Cardinals would receive if Flaherty was safe and compare that to the loss if Flaherty was thrown out. We know that getting thrown out ends the game, so the Cardinals win expectancy in that scenario is of course zero. There are two other scenarios, with the first being if Flaherty stays. The Cardinals would then still be down by one run, but they would have runners on second and third base with two outs and Paul Goldschmidt stepping up to the plate. The second scenario is if Flaherty scores the tying run and Paul Goldschmidt steps up to the plate with a runner on second base. Read the rest of this entry »