James Loney…You’re Up!Posted: June 28, 2010
Dodgers up 6-5 on the Yankees in the top of the 9th. Men are on 1st and 3rd with 1 out. Colin Curtis (Left handed batter) is at the plate. The count is 3-2 and Jonathon Broxton is pitching for the Dodgers. Colin Curtis hits the ball to First baseman James Loney. Here is the link to watch the play.
- Loney is holding Chad Huffman on at 1st base.
- Middle infielders are at double play depth
- Third baseman should be closer than double play depth and shading in the 5-6 hole
Yankees offensive situation:
- Curtis Granderson is a “plus” runner on 3rd base
- Chad Huffman, (I assume) is an average runner on 1st base
- Colin Curtis hits lefty and is at the plate. He is an average runner.
Curtis hits a 3-2 fastball on 2 hops to James Loney. Loney tags the bag at first base, which retires Curtis making it 2 outs, and throws the ball home to Russell Martin. Granderson beats the tag from Russell Martin and ties the game 6-6.
Did Loney make the correct decisions?
Loney’s educated guess
With runners on 1st and 3rd, Loney can expect Granderson to run home on a ground ball. That is because the Yankees know that even if he gets thrown out, there will be 2 outs and men on 1st and 2nd with Jeter coming to the plate. The Yankees know that the Dodgers want to turn a double play due to their defensive alignment.
- Know the speed of the runners on base. (Granderson and Huffman)
- Know the speed of the batter (Curtis)
- Know where to throw the ball if he fields the ball.
Where is Loney going to throw the ball on a grounder?
Now that Loney knows the speeds of the runners he will look at the manager for positioning. Torre has him holding Huffman on at 1st. This is important because Torre is sending Loney a clear message by holding the runner.
Torre is telling Loney that a ball at him or to his right, he should throw to 2nd base and try for a double play. If Torre had told Loney to play in front of the bag or behind the runner, then Loney would have known that his priority was to throw the ball home.
What should Loney say to himself?
On a regular ground ball at me or to my right (towards 2nd) I will throw the ball to second. If the ball is hit to my left (backhand), I will catch the ball and immediately look to throw the ball home. If Granderson stays at 3rd I will tag the bag at 1st.
Loney has 1 more situation to consider: the steal
Loney must decide what he is going to do if Huffman tries to steal. In the case of a steal, Loney should chose to throw the ball home if Granderson goes. If he stays then Loney should get the out at 1st base.
- If Huffman runs, I am playing for 1 out. I will catch a grounder and look to throw the ball home. If Granderson doesn’t go, I will step on 1st base for the out.
In my opinion he didn’t. Notice that in the breakdown of choices there wasn’t an option of stepping on 1st base and throwing the ball home? There was a choice to catch the ground ball and look to see what Granderson is doing and then step on 1st. But that choice was left out of our options because it requires a perfectly placed throw from Loney.
My choice would have been to throw the ball to 2nd base and turn a double play. If Huffman happened to be going, I would have thrown the ball home making sure that the tying run didn’t score.