Giants Defensive Positioning a Big Assist in Game 7 Victory
By John Dewan
November 6, 2014
Madison Bumgarner will be remembered as the hero of the Giants’ 2014 World Series title, and he deserves every accolade. After holding the Royals to one run in Game 1 and no runs in Game 5, Bumgarner entered Game 7 in relief on two days rest and held the Royals scoreless from the fifth inning to the end of the game, preserving the Giants 3-2 lead. Bumgarner was spectacular, but the Giants didn’t win their third World Series in five years by simply deploying Bumgarner and then sitting on their hands. Their in-game strategies were subtle, but they were critical to their success.
My favorite example of such a strategy was in the bottom of the fifth inning in Game 7. Omar Infante had reached second base following a leadoff single off Bumgarner and a sacrifice bunt by Alcides Escobar. In his first inning of relief, Bumgarner was showing diminished velocity and poor command. He wasn’t yet in top form, and he was a base hit away from losing the Giants’ lead.
When Nori Aoki slapped a line drive down the left field line that was slicing away from the left fielder, it seemed like Bumgarner had done just that. Aoki’s liner was in the air for just 2.6 seconds. It is a play that Baseball Info Solutions’ Plus/Minus system expects to never get made. However, even as the ball quickly fell out of the sky, Juan Perez came out of nowhere to reach the ball and snag it before it touched down.
That out was made possible by the Giants’ decision to play Perez close to the left field line, which is not at all an obvious decision with a left-handed hitter at the plate. But it was no lucky break for the Giants. They knew that Aoki had a tendency to hit his line drives and flyballs the other way and often down the line. You can see that trend in Baseball Info Solutions’ Defensive Positioning software, which highlights red the sections of the field that Aoki’s most recent balls in play have been hit to.
In the end, Bumgarner threw five scoreless innings to take home his third World Series ring and a World Series MVP. But without the help of the Giants’ excellent defensive positioning, it might have played out completely different.
[ My intention with my blog is to simply collect articles of interest to me for purposes of future reference. I do my best to indicate who has actually composed the articles. NONE of the articles have been written by me. – Louis Sheehan ]
Posted but not written by: Lou Sheehan