Normally, when you see that a player had a walk-off single, you think of this scenario: men in scoring position, infield and outfield drawn in (if there are less than two outs, that is), the hitter punches it through the infield and the runner scores. Mob ensues at first base/home plate. Heck, maybe the hitter knocked the ball off the center field wall, but he's only awarded a single because the runner would have scored anyway.
In the case of the Rockies' first walkoff win of 2011 (about freaking time!) last night in extra innings, this traditional walkoff single scenario did not fit the bill. For one thing, the only runner was on first base. More importantly, Ty Wigginton's bloop single maybe traveled 200 feet. Maybe. And yet, Troy Tulowitzki was able to scoot all the way around from first and score on the single. The other guy who pops into my mind as having done that? Enos Slaughter's Mad Dash in the 7th game of the 1946 World Series. Then I remember that Enos Slaughter was kind of a jerk. But I digress. The Rockies never do anything the easy or conventional way, do they?
It is kind of absurd that it took so long for Colorado to get their first walk-off win (and extra innings win for that matter). They were the last team in the majors that hadn't done it yet. I mean, the Rockies would need 8 more walk-off wins just to match the Giants' total this year. Considering that the Rockies have 24 comeback wins this year, the fact that only this last one came in the bottom of the 9th inning or later was pretty strange. Then again, it's been a really strange year for the Rockies.
Might this first walk-off unleash a torrent of late inning dramatics and winning baseball? Well, as an espouser of sabermetric principles I'm not allowed to have that opinion. But as a baseball fan it certainly gives me a jolt of enthusiasm that was sorely needed.
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One (in this case, Jim Tracy) might say that these next 12 games leading up to the All-Star Game are critical. To which I say, they're probably more important than if the Rockies were 30-49 instead of 39-40. To be honest, games in July count the same as games in April in the standings, but games in July for a fringe contender like the Rockies will have a disproportionately high impact as to how active they will be on the trade market, so yes, they are marginally more important. Also included in the article are notes on Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon. Speaking of Blackmon, here's an article about how he is adjusting to major league pitching.
Dave Krieger says that the Rockies are treading water right now. While he's not wrong in terms of the standings, I've been very encouraged with what I've seen from the team during interleague play. What is needed right now (at least with the offense) is a little patience with the talented hitters and some consistency in the lineup, not a big shakeup.
I don't know if you noticed, but Jonah Lehrer of Grantland wrote an article on the limitations of sabermetrics yesterday, initiating something of a donnybrook in the sabermetric community. I think that Lehrer was really narrow in his thesis that statistics are limiting and blind the minds of front offices and coaches. Heck, I might even argue the opposite, especially with coaches. Here are the well-reasoned responses from Bill Petti of Beyond the Boxscore and Joe Pawlikowski of Fangraphs. Pawlikowski's money quote:
This all takes us back to the age-old stats vs. scouting argument, which is actually one big misstatement. As many before me have noted, stats are not in conflict with scouting. They’re two different tools that teams can use in evaluating players. Stats are merely a record of what happened on the field. They’re sometimes put in greater context, but they’re the results of the game nonetheless. Scouting is a more subjective, closer look at those same events, and it does include other aspects such as a player’s makeup. Taken together they can provide a team with a reliable player evaluation. Either part without the other, though, can miss important factors.
Stats are important when making decisions about players or prospects, but so too is talent -- and by extension, the evaluation of said talent by scouts.
Finally, Grant's power rankings at the MLB SBNation hub make me laugh. And how.