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Beltran's Throw

Adam WarnerTuesday, April 3, 2007
By Adam Warner

So with the Mets up 5-1 in the bottom of the 6th on Sunday, 1 out, and David Eckstein on 2nd, Tom Glavine looks pretty spent. Preston Wilson smacks a sharp base hit right at Carlos Beltran.

The TV angle was from behind Beltran, and you got a clear view that he could get Eckstein out at the plate with a good throw.

Which we know he made.

Disastrous decision right? Not by 3rd base coach Jose Oquendo, but by Beltran for not throwing to 2nd and holding Wilson on 1st.

At least that's what Joe Morgan told us.


Using some math-generated win probabilities for every game situation (not sure why I have these), the Cards had a 17.13% chance of winning the game had they just held Eckstein. By sending him and getting him thrown out, their odds dropped to 9.53%. Or a pretty significant 7.60% drop IN ONE PLAY.

What did Beltran risk on his throw, assuming he's letting the runner score and that risk was merely letting Wilson go from 1st to 2nd? The Cards odds go from 19.03% to 20.48%, or a 1.45% bump.

So in other words, Beltran's throw makes all the sense in the world. If he makes that same decision 4 times, and only connects once, he's STILL the better for it.

Tony LaRussa and his Technicolor Dream Hair obviously know all this.

"kind of a foolish throw."

"I don't think you make that throw too often, and he pulled it off," the manager added. "That's the kind of night they had."

OK, maybe not.

About Adam: I am a professional options trader, and financial writer. I pen the Daily Options Report blog and contribute to numerous other sites.

I'm a 41 year old huge Mets (and football Giants) fan since the mid 70's. I trek out to Shea every Opening Day, and a few other times a year, from the Jersey burbs

I'm a "non-doctrinaire" stats junky. And by that I mean I follow it, but certainly don't swear by it.

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Comments (6)

This is Beltran's third year. That throw epitomized the HUMP Carlos got over last year. In his previous two yrs I winced as Carlos HELD that ball and lobbed a throw to Reyes covering 2nd. This yr, gold glove in tow, Carlos threw home......
...what does THAT do (and say) for his confidence!!

Note; Cliffy made a living nailing runners in the same way.

It was an aggressive play, but good grief. Beltran had the play right in front of him; he could see that Eckstein was only at third base, and so could we, thanks to the television camera. Carlos had time to execute the play; all he had to do was execute, which he did, perfectly. Where is the room for second guessing, Little Joe?

Anyways, if a team ALWAYS takes the safe choice on defense, in this case making the throw to second to hold the runner at first, then eventually those percentages that created The Book in the first place become even more favorably slanted for the offense. If a bunt never results in a lead runner getting cut down, if your team never challenges a tardy runner to home plate on a hit, if the 0-2 pitch is always a ball -- then you've changed the equations ever further against your own side. Those percentages were the product of a certain level of uncertainty, after all.

But an aggressive and skillful defender - Keith, of course, and Beltran and Endy on this team - can foster uncertainty for the opposition, and reverse those odds, possibly even stop the other side from taking some chances; because those plays still are chances, you see. You have to choose your spots, but contained aggression on defense can have a huge effect on a game or a season.

I think that was a large part of the Mets' game last year. And Carlos was a big part of that; I loved watching his play in the field. Carlos had an impact out there last year, and obviously he's not finished.

yeah, totally agree. I mean that's the whole point. He had the play right in front of him. He already had the ball before Eckstein rounded 3rd. He's not there in a vacuum, he had to have seen pretty clearly he's got him. I really only used the math to demonstrate that even if it was a questionable play, it STILL made sense to try it.

You know what's great? That we're all talking about Beltran's Throw now, as opposed to four months of talking about Beltran's Called Third Strike. Play Ball!

I appreciated your posting the probabilities on that play, btw.

Sort of ties into what another blogger wrote the other day under the heading of "why we don't like Tony LaRussa." He never owns up to a mistake.

because he's never made one, lol

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