Performance Perspectives Blog

Baseball and material errors

by | Oct 20, 2013

It is rare that people keep track of errors, but baseball, with its love of statistics, does just that: goof during a game and it will usually get recorded.

In last night’s Detroit Tigers vs. Boston Red Sox game, we were treated to three errors, two by the same person. And, in my view, there was one more, though it was ruled a hit, that we’ll touch on that shortly.

In baseball, we don’t distinguish between the degree of the error: that is, there is no mention of one being “material” and the other “non-material.” This doesn’t mean that commentators, reporters, pundits, and fans won’t lay the blame on someone’s deeds

Going into the 7th inning, Detroit was up 2-1 over Boston. In that inning, Detroit shortstop, Jose Iglesias, mishandled what might be called a “routine double-play ball,” which resulted in the bases becoming loaded. The next Boston batter, Shane Victorino, hit a grand slam home run. There is little doubt that failing to “turn two” was a major factor in the game’s outcome.

In the 9th inning, Detroit’s Austin Jackson reached first on what was ruled an infield single; I scored it as an error, because the Boston shortstop, Stephen Drew, appeared to mishandle the ball just as Iglesias had two innings earlier. But Jackson didn’t make it past second base, and Boston went on to win (5-2).

Material errors truly make a difference they cause results to turn out differently than they would have otherwise.

p.s., It’s interesting that offensive errors are not tracked. Detroit’s Prince Fielder stumbled while getting back to third base and was tagged out, as the second part of a double play. This base-running error may have cost Detroit a run or two.

p.p.s., Perhaps it was fitting that Detroit’s error prone shortstop struck out for the last out of the game.

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