Judging the Royals

Defensive Indifference Part III: The Reckoning!

Jarrod Dyson and first base coach Rusty Kuntz back in May
Jarrod Dyson and first base coach Rusty Kuntz back in May The Kansas City Star

Any time I can get three columns out of the same subject, I’m a happy guy.

When the Royals went to St. Louis to play a makeup game against the Cardinals, there were two cases of a runner on first base taking second base with a runner on third. Both times the official scorekeeper called it “defensive indifference” because the Cardinals did nothing to stop the runner from taking second.

I called it BS: The score was 4-3 and there was no way the Cardinals were indifferent to the go-ahead run moving into scoring position. I thought it was scorekeeping designed to make Yadier Molina and the Cardinals look good, but a number of readers disagreed. Here’s part of what one of them had to say:

You guys are missing some important baseball points. The Cardinals were indifferent to the winning run going to second base because if they tried to throw him out, the guy from third could get home and score the tying run as soon as the ball left Molina’s hand to go to second.

They were indifferent to the winning run because they were only concerned with preventing the tying run.

OK, so there’s one point of view, now here’s another:

I was going to email the other day after reading your blog because I thought it was clear there was DI on the part of the Cardinals. I’m a rules junkie so I wanted to be quite clear on DI so I looked it up. It turned out that you were right so I didn’t email you. I wish you would have listed the rule reference in today’s blog so that the folks that write in and whine about it can understand what DI is and isn’t.

Take a look and you will find the exact scenario. I read it and said to myself that you were right on. I’d like you to put that in a column for those folks who were critical of you to read.

Instead of writing you the other day to tell you that you were wrong, I looked it up to be sure my facts were right and of course they were not. You were right sir! The Royals should have gotten the SBs. The Cards were not indifferent, they just put a higher importance on other strategic moves.

Now here’s the rule in question:

10.07 Stolen Bases and Caught Stealing

(g) The official scorer shall not score a stolen base when a runner advances solely because of the defensive team’s indifference to the runner’s advance. The official scorer shall score such a play as a fielder’s choice.

Rule 10.07(g) Comment: The scorer shall consider, in judging whether the defensive team has been indifferent to a runner’s advance, the totality of the circumstances, including the inning and score of the game, whether the defensive team had held the runner on base, whether the pitcher had made any pickoff attempts on that runner before the runner’s advance, whether the fielder ordinarily expected to cover the base to which the runner advanced made a move to cover such base, whether the defensive team had a legitimate strategic motive to not contest the runner’s advance or whether the defensive team might be trying impermissibly to deny the runner credit for a stolen base. For example, with runners on first and third bases, the official scorer should ordinarily credit a stolen base when the runner on first advances to second, if, in the scorer’s judgment, the defensive team had a legitimate strategic motive — namely, preventing the runner on third base from scoring on the throw to second base — not to contest the runner’s advance to second base.

So the first guy is saying that the ruling of defensive indifference was correct because the Cardinals didn’t want to throw the ball to second base and give the runner on third a chance to score, but the rulebook says in that scenario the correct ruling is stolen base.

So how about it: Did the Cardinals hold onto the ball because they didn’t want to chance a throw to second which might allow the tying run to score?

When in doubt, ask Rusty

One of my baseball go-to-guys, Rusty Kuntz, was actually there on the field, so I asked his opinion: Did Yadier Molina hold onto the ball because he was afraid the runner on third would try to score?

I not only got a “yeah,” I got a “hell yeah.”

Apparently third baseman Matt Carpenter has a bad back and Yadier Molina is slower than a check in the mail. “How many throws do you think it would take for them to run down Jarrod Dyson?”

In Rusty’s opinion, the Cardinals did not want any part of that scenario. On top of that the Cardinals weren’t 100 percent positive they could throw out the runner taking second base even if they did throw the ball in that direction. So let the go-ahead run take second, keep the tying run at third and try to get the batter: according to rule 10.07 (g) that’s a stolen base.

Your honor, I rest my case.

(Tomorrow we will discuss how many angels can rumba on the head of a pin.)

Live chat today at noon

I’m sure you all have some Johnny Cueto questions that I can’t answer so join in the discussion and realize how little I know about this. Live chat today at noon, KansasCity.com.

To reach Lee Judge, call 816-234-4482 or send email to ljudge@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @leejudge8.

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