Thursday, March 31, 2016

Top Moments (#10 - #6) of the 2014-2015 Kansas City Royals.

These five Moments include a pennant-clinching out with the tying and winning runs in scoring position; one of the most important steals in the history of baseball; a play sure to be remembered as one of the greatest baserunning displays in playoff history, a game-winning 11th-inning home run, and a season-sustaining triple when the Royals were two outs away from elimination. And we still have five Moments to go.

Moment #: 10
Date: October 23, 2015
Game: 2015 ALCS Game 6, vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Score: Toronto 3, Kansas City 4, Top of the 9th
Situation: Two outs, men on second and third
Count: 1-2
Matchup: Josh Donaldson vs. Wade Davis
Result: Groundout to third base, game over
WPA: 20%

Summary: With the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position in Game 6 of the ALCS, Wade Davis retires Josh Donaldson to clinch the Royals’ second straight AL pennant.

Link to video: Here.

After striking out Dioner Navarro (Moment #67), and striking out Ben Revere (Moment #26), all that was left for Wade Davis to do to get out of one of the biggest jams of his career, complete one of the gutsiest relief performances of all time, and secure the pennant, was to retire Josh Donaldson. The soon-to-be-named AL MVP Josh Donaldson, who had hit .297/.371/.568 on the season. The MVP of the league vs. the best reliever in baseball, with two outs in the 9th, the tying run on third base, and the go-ahead run on second base, in Game 6 of the ALCS. It’s possible to draw up a more perfect final battle for the American League championship, but it’s not likely you’ll actually see one.

According to the measurement “Leverage Index”, which ranks the importance of a particular plate appearance relative to the first plate appearance of the game, this matchup had an LI of 6.86 – nearly seven times more leverage than usual. Only five plate appearances in a Royals’ playoff game have ranked higher. Three of those were the last three plate appearances in Game 5 of the 1980 World Series, after the Royals got the tying and winning runs on base with one out in the 9th (Jose Cardenal struck out with the bases loaded and two outs against Tug McGraw. Which means that, yes, the biggest plate appearance in a Royals’ postseason game ever was taken by Jose Cardenal.) One of those was Terry Pendleton’s at-bat against Charlie Leibrandt with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the 9th inning, with the Cardinals losing, 2-1, in Game 1 of the 1985 World Series; Pendleton cleared the bases with a double and the Cardinals won, 4-2. (That the Royals came back to win the World Series is the only reason this play isn’t famous in a Grady Little sort of way; closer Dan Quisenberry watched the whole inning unfold from the bullpen as manager Dick Howser stuck with his starting pitcher.) And one of them was Dane Iorg’s at-bat in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series.

So this plate appearance “only” ranks sixth all-time. It was, though, the highest leverage plate appearance of the last two years. (If you take the importance of the game into account, it would rank second behind Salvador Perez’s at-bat to end the 2014 World Series.)

Wade Davis did exactly what he wanted to do in this at-bat, according to Sam Mellinger: “He would throw nothing but fastballs, changing eye level, and taking advantage of Donaldson’s aggressiveness.” And after falling behind Donaldson 2-and-1, Davis’ fourth pitch was in a really good spot: a 95 mph fastball that cut a little low and outside, straight at Salvador Perez’s glove, and Donaldson reached for it and pulled it on the ground.

And with all that, Donaldson hit it hard enough that if he had hit it 10 feet to the left or right, it might have gotten through the infield, and the Royals would have gone to the bottom of the 9th down by at least a run.

But it didn’t. He hit it right at Moustakas, more proof that baseball isn’t fair given that a groundball that wasn’t hit right at Donaldson had ended his season the year before. Mike Moustakas, exactly as he had done in the previous ALCS, smothered the ball, fired it to Eric Hosmer at first base, and the Royals had just won their second straight AL pennant. 

One at-bat, one pitch, one swing could have put the Blue Jays in the driver’s seat to win the game and possibly the series, and instead it triggered a dogpile at Kauffman Stadium. Even down in the Dominican Republic, they were celebrating at the Royals’ Academy. And Salvador Perez was happy:

The Royals were the best team in the American League during the regular season. Now they were the best team in the American League in the postseason. But they still had one task left before them. Unfinished business, remember.

Memorable Broadcaster Quote: “Here comes the 2-1. Left side…MOUSTAKAS…ROYALS WIN THE PENNANT!” – Joe Buck.

Moment #: 9
Date: September 30, 2014
Game: 2014 Wild Card Game, vs. Oakland Athletics
Score: Oakland 7, Kansas City 6, Bottom of the 9th
Situation: One out, man on second
Count: 2-1
Matchup: Nori Aoki vs. Sean Doolittle
Result: Stolen base
WPA: 13%

Summary: Jarrod Dyson steals one of the most famous bases in major league history, setting him up to score the tying run in the 9th inning of the Wild Card Game.

Link to video: Here.

“Once Roberts got to Boston, he mostly sat. And sat. The manager kept an eye on him but didn’t call his name very often. It was as if Roberts had changed from a ballplayer into some kind of glass-front box with the words break in case of need for stolen base stenciled on the front. But Epstein’s orthodoxy, reinforced by special adviser, Bill James, the creator of the whole analytical business that had debunked stolen bases in the first place, held that if you built the right kind of team, Roberts’s skills set would be largely extraneous. Except – and this was the key part of it, the flexible part of it that most people didn’t get – except when it was necessary.

And so here Roberts was, glass broken, standing on first base with Bill Mueller at the plate, the only potential run of the year that mattered anymore. It was a desperate moment, but nonetheless a moment that had been planned for. That was the difference between this time around and 1949, 1978, 2003, and all the other disappointments of the last century. God was in the details, and so were playoff victories. And the Red Sox were finally looking after the details.

Rivera threw over to first. Once. Twice. Roberts got back to the bag. Every problem is a lock looking for a key. The Red Sox had spent decades half-asleep, oblivious to the locks, never mind looking for the keys.

Rivera returned his focus to the man at the plate. Roberts took his lead – not an inch shorter than before, maybe half an inch longer now. Rivera got set in the stretch, looked once more at Roberts, then committed to home plate with a barely perceptible transfer of weight to his right foot, his left foot now rising off the mound.

But Roberts was already gone, digging toward second, erasing the past with every step.” – from the prologue to Mind Game: How the Boston Red Sox Got Smart, Won a World Series, and Created a New Blueprint for Winning.

“I remember Maury Wills on the backfield in Vero Beach,” said Roberts. “He said, ‘DR, one of these days you're going to have to steal an important base when everyone in the ballpark knows you’re gonna steal, but you’ve got to steal that base and you can’t be afraid to steal that base.’ So, just kind of trotting out on to the field that night, I was thinking about him. So he was on one side telling me ‘this was your opportunity’. And the other side of my brain is saying, ‘You’re going to get thrown out, don’t get thrown out.’ Fortunately Maury’s voice won out in my head.”Dave Roberts.

Dave Roberts’ steal against Mariano Rivera in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, with the Red Sox down a run in the 9th inning and 3 games to 0 in the series, is unquestionably the greatest steal in baseball history.

But what’s the second-greatest steal in baseball history?

I honestly think it’s this one. I think it’s Jarrod Dyson, who like Roberts was standing around in a glass-front box with the words break in case of need for stolen base stenciled on the front, The glass was broken after Josh Willingham led off the 9th inning of the Wild Card Game with a single (Moment #40), and then Dyson was sacrificed to second, where he stood with the Royals two outs away from being eliminated. Everyone in the ballpark knew that he was going to steal third. Sean Doolittle faked a pickoff throw once. Then he threw ball one to Nori Aoki while Dyson watched, and bided his time. Ball two. Strike one. And then another fake pickoff throw. And now Dyson had him – as Eno Sarris Jeff Sullivan detailed in this fabulous article, Dyson had Doolittle’s tell. If Doolittle paused between the moment he turned his head toward the plate and the moment he lifted his front leg, then he was faking a pickoff throw. If Doolittle turned to look at home plate and lifted his leg simultaneously, he was going home.

Doolittle turned his head toward the plate and lifted his leg simultaneously. Dyson took off for third. Aoki took ball three. Derek Norris fired to third base, too late. Dyson was safe, not by much, but clearly safe – and he did a great job of keeping his body in contact with the base at all times even as he nearly slid past the base, preventing a Terrance-Gore-in-ALDS-Game-4 situation.

And afterwards, he revved the engines.

If you want a single image to sum up the never-say-die attitude of the 2014-2015 Kansas City Royals, that’s the one. The Royals were still two outs away from elimination – and Dyson is revving the engines at third base, with complete confidence in himself and without an ounce of fear for the situation. It was if he was saying, “Nervous? Why would we be nervous?” We were losing our minds in the stands, but out on the field, Dyson didn’t have a care in the world. He was a 50th-round pick, a guy who was drafted despite not really knowing how to hit a baseball, who by sheer force of self-confidence and his God-given tools surpassed far more heralded prospects through the farm system, reached the major leagues when he was 26 years old, and has been one of the game’s best fourth outfielders ever since. That’s what speed – and a relentless belief in yourself – do.

One pitch later, Dyson would trot home to score the tying run. The legend of his steal, like the legend of Roberts’ steal, has only grown with time. I shudder to think where the Royals would be today had Dyson not answered the call when Ned Yost broke the glass.

Memorable Broadcaster Quote: “There goes Dyson…throw to third…he is safe. The tying run has moved up another 90 feet. Rev it up!” – Ernie Johnson.

Moment #: 8
Date: October 3, 2014
Game: 2014 ALDS Game 2, @ Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Score: Kansas City 1, Los Angeles 1, Top of the 11th
Situation: One out, man on first
Count: 0-0
Matchup: Eric Hosmer vs. Kevin Jepsen
Result: Home Run, two go-ahead runs score
WPA: 43%

Summary: Eric Hosmer crushes a two-run homer in the 11th inning to lead the Royals to their second straight extra-inning victory in Anaheim, putting them one game away from the ALCS.

Link to videoHere.

After stealing Game 1 of the ALDS in Anaheim, the Royals had the chance to do something even more impressive: come home to Kansas City with a 2 games to 0 lead in the best-of-five series. Game 2 was still tied at 1 apiece heading to extra innings thanks to Jarrod Dyson’s crucial throw (Moment #25) in the 8th, and stayed tied after 10 innings thanks to Josh Hamilton’s double play (Moment #94). Dyson led off the 11th and flied out, but Lorenzo Cain then beat out a routine ground ball for an infield single (Moment #125).

And then Eric Hosmer broke out the whoopin’ stick.

There are many similarities between this home run and Mike Moustakas’ home run the night before (Moment #11), but this ranks higher for a couple of reasons:

1) There was a man aboard, so Hosmer’s homer was worth two runs instead of one;
2) There was already one out, so the Royals’ chances if Hosmer didn’t come through were less than they were when Moustakas batted.

And whereas Moustakas’ home run felt like a lucky fluke at the time, the all-or-nothing hitter finally connecting at the most opportune time, Hosmer did what we had been waiting for him to do all season: finally unleash the power in his pretty swing. Hosmer hit just nine home runs in 131 games during the regular season, which seems impossible, but really happened. And then Kevin Jepsen’s first pitch was on the inside half of the plate after Chris Iannetta set up outside, and Hosmer turned on it the way he was supposed to since he got called up in 2011 and hit 19 homers as a rookie despite not debuting until May. The two cornerstones of Dayton Moore’s rebuilding project, the #2 overall pick in 2007 and the #3 overall pick in 2008, had just hit tie-breaking extra-inning home runs in back-to-back postseason games. The Process was working.

Before the ALDS began, I was just having trouble processing that the Royals were getting to play multiple playoff games:

But as the ball sailed off into the night, I suddenly did the math in my head:

- The Royals were probably going to win this game, which meant that
- The Royals were probably going to win this series, which meant that
- The Royals were probably going to play for the American League championship.

And then my head nearly exploded. One week earlier, the Royals had finally clinched their first playoff spot in 29 years, and we partied like there was no tomorrow. And now, suddenly, we could legitimately think World Series? It was too much to process.

Meanwhile, Chris Iannetta added his picture to the Boulevard of Broken Dreams that the Royals were leaving in their wake:

The Royals hit four extra-inning home runs in the last two postseasons, and this was the biggest of them. But it wasn’t their biggest home run of all.

Memorable Broadcaster Quote“And there’s a drive to right by Eric Hosmer, and it is…gone! Eric Hosmer, a two-run shot, and the Kansas City Royals have the lead!” – Ernie Johnson.

Moment #: 7
Date: October 23, 2015
Game: 2015 ALCS Game 6, vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Score: Toronto 3, Kansas City 3, Bottom of the 8th
Situation: No outs, man on first
Count: 2-2
Matchup: Eric Hosmer vs. Roberto Osuna
Result: Single, go-ahead run scores
WPA: 22%

Summary: Lorenzo Cain scores the winning run from first base on a single in the bottom of the 8th inning in Game 6 of the 2015 ALCS.

Link to video:

In Game 7 of the 1946 World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals led the Boston Red Sox, 3-1, going to the top of the 8th inning before Dom DiMaggio drove in two runs to tie the game. In the bottom of the inning, Enos Slaughter led off with a single. With two outs and Harry Walker at the plate, the Cardinals put on the hit-and-run; Slaughter took off on the pitch, and Walker lined a ball into the left-center field gap. Slaughter was just past third base when the centerfielder’s relay throw reached shortstop Johnny Pesky, and his third base coach had put up the stop sign, but Slaughter ignored the sign and kept going. Pesky hesitated for just a moment before throwing home, and his throw was slightly off-line, and Slaughter scored the go-ahead run. While this has ever since been reported as “Enos Slaughter scores the winning run from first base on a single,” Walker in fact hit a double, and it was a real double: as the video shows, Walker didn’t move up to second base on the throw home, he was sliding into second base when Pesky caught the relay throw.

The Red Sox would get the first two batters on base in the top of the 9th, and had the tying run on third base with one out, but failed to score. The Cardinals won the game, and the Series, 4-3.

Does any of this sound familiar?

In Game 6 of the 2015 ALCS, the Royals led the Blue Jays, 3-1, going to the top of the 8th inning before Jose Bautista tied the game with a two-run homer. In the bottom of the 8th, Lorenzo Cain led off with a walk. And now our story diverges slightly, in a way that makes Cain’s trip around the bases more impressive than Slaughter’s. Eric Hosmer batted with no outs, and Roberto Osuna threw him an 87 mph slider down and in on a 2-2 pitch, and Hosmer turned on it and drove it to right field. Cain was not running on the pitch, but made the turn at second and went to third – and when Bautista’s throw went to second base, Mike Jirschele waved him home. Troy Tulowitzki grabbed the relay throw and immediately spun and fired home, but it was too late. Cain really had scored the winning run in the 8th inning from first base on a single. The Blue Jays would get their first two hitters on base in the top of the 9th, but the Royals would hold on to win the game and the pennant, 4-3.

Basically, everything they’ve been saying about Slaughter’s Mad Dash for 70 years actually applies more to Cain’s run home. It is one of the great baserunning displays in baseball history, and as an added bonus, it turned Bautista into a goat for throwing to second base to keep Hosmer at first base instead of hitting the cut-off man to keep Cain at third.

But here’s a hot take for you: I’m not sure Bautista made a mistake, and I’m pretty sure it didn’t cost the Blue Jays at all. With no one out, having runners on second and third base would have been nearly as beneficial to the Royals as having one runner score and the other at first base. According to Baseball Prospectus, in 2015 the run expectancy when having runners on second and third base with no outs is 1.90 runs in the inning. By comparison, having a runner on first base with no outs is worth 0.84 runs – meaning that, even accounting for Cain’s run, the Royals’ run expectancy was 1.84 runs, less than their run expectancy would have been had Bautista held Cain at third.

That doesn’t mean he made the right move, because in a tie game in the 8th inning, the first run is much more valuable than the second run. But you can make a plausible case that, with no outs, keeping Hosmer out of scoring position to prevent a second run from scoring was worth the risk that Cain would try something that you literally might see a couple of times a season. You can especially make the case in this game because the next hitter, Kendrys Morales, singled up the middle! Had Bautista held Cain at third and Hosmer taken second base, Morales’ single would have scored Cain anyway, and might have scored Hosmer. And if Hosmer had held at third, he might have scored anyway when Mike Moustakas flied out to right field. Instead, Hosmer held at second base, and then Salvador Perez grounded into a double play and ended the inning.

It's not fair to assume the rest of the inning would have turned out exactly the same way – different situations would have called for different pitches, different defensive alignments, etc. But it’s hard for me to put the goat horns on Bautista when, if he had hit the cutoff man and the rest of the inning went the way it did, the Royals probably would have scored two runs instead of one.

Eric Hosmer has 29 RBIs in 31 career postseason games, and he has Cain to thank for so many of them – this was the second time in two weeks that Cain had scored from first base on a Hosmer single (Moment #47), and on neither play was Cain running on the pitch, and neither play happened with two outs, when Cain could at least have been running on contact. I hope that, as the years go by, this play will supplant Enos Slaughter’s run around the bases as the definitive example of smart, aggressive baserunning changing the course of baseball history.

But if it doesn’t, I at least have the solace of knowing that another play still to come probably will.

Memorable Broadcaster Quote: “That's into right field - this ball is...down! Going to third is Cain! Holding at first-now Cain coming to the plate! Royals lead! He can fly!” – Joe Buck.

I know Buck isn’t the most popular announcer in Kansas City – or most of America – but those last three words are really a sublime call, a fantastic double entendre after Cain leaped to the sky after sliding into home safely.

Moment #: 6
Date: September 30, 2014
Game: 2014 Wild Card Game, vs. Oakland Athletics
Score: Oakland 8, Kansas City 7, Bottom of the 12th
Situation: One out, bases empty
Count: 2-2 (+1 foul)
Matchup: Eric Hosmer vs. Dan Otero
Result: Triple
WPA: 30%

Summary: Eric Hosmer, in the biggest at-bat of his career, triples off the left field wall to give the Royals life again after they were two outs away from elimination.

Link to video: Here.

Now, with right-hander Dan Otero ready for his second inning of work, Cain led off the bottom of the game’s final inning. He tried to shoot a sinker into right field, but he hit a harmless grounder. He crossed paths with Hosmer as he headed for the dugout, but his thoughts were elsewhere.

“Honestly,” Cain said, “I was like, ‘This game’s over.’ ”

- The night Kansas City baseball came back to life, Kansas City Star, 9/27/15

The Royals had come back against the A’s after Oakland took a 2-0 lead in the top of the 1st. They had, improbably, come back against the A’s after Oakland went to the 8th inning holding a 7-3 lead. But now, for the third time in the game, the A’s had gone back on top, and now it was the 12th inning, and the Royals were down to their final three outs. And Lorenzo Cain had just used up the first of them.

Statistically speaking, this was not the direst moment of the last two years. The Royals’ Win Probability was still 11%, whereas it was at 3% at the end of the 7th inning and even less than that in the bottom of the 7th inning in Houston during Game 4 of the 2015 ALDS. But at least in those two situations, the Royals had six outs still to play with. Here, they had two. If Eric Hosmer didn’t come through, they’d have one.

Eric Hosmer sidled into the dugout at Fenway Park one day this past August. He peered down at an iPad screen replaying his last at-bat from that night. He did not require much visual aid. He watched this encounter countless times during the winter.

Hosmer had hit only nine homers during the regular season, but he wanted what all power hitters desire in these situations: a fastball up in the zone to drive out of the ballpark. The duel with Otero lasted six pitches. As he watched himself 11 months later, Hosmer pinpointed the fourth pitch as the most critical one. Hosmer had just fouled off two fastballs and was furious about missing them. Then Otero threw a slider in the dirt.

“After that slider, you can tell,” Hosmer said. “He threw that, and didn’t feel too comfortable about it. From that point there, after fouling off two heaters, especially in hitter’s counts, you’ve got a good feeling that a fastball’s coming.”

Hosmer sprayed another fastball foul. He planned to cheat on the next pitch, starting his swing early to generate as much power as possible. As the 2-2 fastball approached, Hosmer leaned his face closer to the iPad’s screen.

“There it is!” he shouted.

Both teams had reached deep into their bullpen barrel by this point; the Royals had tried to stretch Brandon Finnegan into a third inning, and when that didn’t work had turned to Jason Frasor. The A’s had turned to sidearmer Dan Otero in the 11th, and with the lead now they were asking him for a second inning of work to close out the game. Otero, like most sidearmers, is a groundball pitcher, and had an excellent year – he had thrown 87 innings with a 2.28 ERA, and had allowed just four home runs all year. He was not exactly the kind of pitcher that you would expect to hit for power.

On the screen, Hosmer leveraged his swing so that upon contact, his left foot landed in the other batter’s box. He craned his neck toward the gap in left-center field. The baseball headed toward a Wild Card Game sign on the wall, where Fuld, the center fielder, converged with left fielder Jonny Gomes. Gomes collided with Fuld. The wall left a scar in Fuld’s lower back.

The baseball bounced off the fence. Watching from his suite, Moore remembered the park’s renovation project years earlier. A dark thought crossed his mind. “We should have made that wall lower,” he grumbled.

Watching the game from down third base line, when Hosmer made contact with Otero’s 2-2 pitch, my brain must have snapped or something, because I immediately put my arms around the shoulders of the two friends I had attended the game with, Alex Robinson and Chris Kamler, and said, “It’s not a home run, guys. It’s not a home run.” I don’t know why I felt compelled to say that – I was afraid that they might get their hopes up for no reason or something. And I guess, technically, I was right.

But the ball kept carrying, and kept going, and what I had thought was a deep but playable fly ball to left field had both the leftfielder and centerfielder converging at the wall, and they both jumped, and the ball hit the wall about 10 feet off the ground. Two feet higher and it would have cleared the fence for a home run. Two feet lower and it might have landed in someone’s glove.

But it didn’t land in anyone’s glove, and when the two outfielders collided, the ball ricocheted past them back towards the infield. By the time Jonny Gomes (Jonny Gomes!) was able to corral the ball, Hosmer was pulling into third base. And why was Gomes playing left field? Because centerfielder Coco Crisp had injured his hamstring while striking out against Finnegan in the 11th; he had tried to walk out to the field in the bottom of the inning, but clearly wasn’t right and had to be pulled.

Left fielder Sam Fuld had moved to center, and Gomes came in to play left. This was a huge defensive downgrade for the A’s, and sure enough, Gomes and Fuld collided with each other trying to make the catch. Had Crisp still been out there, maybe one of them pulls away from the play and is there to play the rebound, and Hosmer has to hold at second base. And then the rest of the inning may play out differently – in particular, Christian Colon is more concerned about hitting a single than just making contact, and maybe he doesn’t hit the lucky chopper that scored Hosmer with the tying run.

Instead, Hosmer careened into third with a stand-up triple. He looked toward the dugout, bent down and punched the air with both fists. The Royals, and Kauffman Stadium, were still alive.

“That’s why I think that triple is the biggest at-bat in my life,” Hosmer said. “Because none of the other stuff happens without that going down.”

Six weeks after this article was published, the Royals had won the World Series. But it’s still true: this is still the biggest at-bat of Hosmer’s life, and it’s the third straight hit by Eric Hosmer to grace our Top 10. But, incredibly, it’s not his biggest Moment. The clutch gene, if it exists, is strong with that one.

Memorable Broadcaster Quote: “In the air to left-center field, Gomes is back and so is Fuld and the ball is off the wall! Hosmer around second, he’s on his way to third standing, and the tying run is 90 feet away!” – Ernie Johnson.


JRCIII said...

#7 is my sentimental favorite of the 2015 playoffs.

Here are two alternate views filmed by fans at the stadium that night. The first one catches the sheer mayhem of Kauffman exploding, and the second is almost perfectly filmed to see the play develop from behind third base. You can see Jirschele watching and waiting and as soon as Bautista makes his throw there goes the arm and there goes Cain. It's a great angle to see how fast and hard he was running. The second video has just under 1,500 views, and I'm probably most of them.

Unknown said...

I heart Eno too, but that amazing piece on Dyson's steal has a Jeff Sullivan byline.

(This series is SO GREAT. I have worn SO MANY SMILES while reading it.)

Anonymous said...

Well, to answer BMJ's question from yesterday, it looks like Johnny Cueto's dominating ALDS Game 5 will get some sort shrift. But at this point, it's pretty obvious what the top 5 will be. No, I'm not going to list them, Rany did all the work until now, and deserves the courtesy of being the one to unwrap the final presents for us.

Tomorrow...tomorrow...I'll love that...tomorrow! (Given yesterday's Hamilton reference, you must be a musical lover, right?)

Danny Lawhon said...

Just gotta reverse the Wade Davis count on Donaldson in Moment No. 10 ... He fell behind 2-and-1, not ahead 1-and-2.

Can't wait for the closing chapter.

Jason said...

Appreciate this whole series. Have had a few quibbles with the order, but that's all up to opinion, I suppose. To me, the Toronto series was the toughest series that KC has played (and won), so Wade Davis getting Josh Donaldson for the final out with the bases loaded to get them to the World Series, is WAY bigger than Eric Hosmer hitting an extra inning homer in a game 2 of a series that you swept in 3 anyway. The Davis/Donaldson AB is top 5 for me.

BL said...

JRCII - Thank you for those alternate views! Those were really great. The camera work on both was impressive for fan made videos.

Rany - this project is glorious.

Anonymous said...

I would like to point out that Tulowitzski's throw in moment #7 must, at the very least, give one pause as to whether, under pressure from a runner doing something really unexpected, Crawford's throw in Game 7 the year before would have been a good one. From about 110 feet from the plate, he two hopped it, for goodness sake.

Unknown said...

How about the guy asleep behind home plate when Hoz hit the triple !!!

BMJ said...

Current Tally As We Go From Top "Dick Howser" Moments (10) To Top "George Brett" Moments (5)

By Category:

2014 Regular Season (9)
Wild Card Game (20
ALDS Game 1 Angels (7)
ALDS Game 2 Angels (7)
ALDS Game 3 Angels (7)
ALCS Game 1 Orioles (8)
ALCS Game 2 Orioles (9)
ALCS Game 3 Orioles (4)
ALCS Game 4 Orioles (5)
World Series Game 1 Giants (0)
World Series Game 2 Giants (6)
World Series Game 3 Giants (6)
World Series Game 4 Giants (5)
World Series Game 5 Giants (1)
World Series Game 6 Giants (7)
World Series Game 7 Giants (4)
2014 Entries So Far (105)

2015 Regular Season (3)
ALDS Game 1 Astros (1)
ALDS Game 2 Astros (8)
ALDS Game 3 Astros (2)
ALDS Game 4 Astros (9)
ALDS Game 5 Astros (8)
ALCS Game 1 Blue Jays (6)
ALCS Game 2 Blue Jays (11)
ALCS Game 3 Blue Jays (2)
ALCS Game 4 Blue Jays (5)
ALCS Game 5 Blue Jays (1)
ALCS Game 6 Blue Jays (11)
World Series Game 1 Mets (12)
World Series Game 2 Mets (5)
World Series Game 3 Mets (5)
World Series Game 4 Mets (10)
World Series Game 5 Mets (10)
2015 Entries So Far (109)

By Player
Hosmer (27)
Cain (24)
Gordon (18)
Perez (15)
Moustakas (20)
Escobar (24)
Dyson (9)
Zobrist (12)
Morales (4)
Butler (10)
Gore (3)
Colon (3)
Infante (6)
Rios (5)
Aoki (5)
Orlando (1)
Willingham (1)
Butera (1)

Davis (9)
Holland (8)
Herrera (2)
Ventura (4)
Young (1)
Cueto (2)
Finnegan (4)
Volquez (1)
Guthrie (0)
Shields (0)
Vargas (1)
Hochevar (2)
Madson (1)
Duffy (0)
Medlen (0)
Frasor (0)
Collins (0)
Morales (0)

OTHER (17)

JayHawklet said...

My Final Five:
5. 5-3 force wins 2014 pennant;
4. Davis looking K wins 2015 World Series.
3. Gordon's homer ties Game 1.
2. Hosmer's "mad dash" ties Game 5.
1. Sal's walk off single.

BMJ said...


The 2014 pennant clincher was #46

Anonymous said...

I wasn't going to list them, but since JayHawklet did, I'll chime in to swap out his # 5 for the Correa error in Game 4 of the 2015 ALDS. (Miracle at Minute Maid)

JayHawklet said...


Thanks. What moment is missing? I'm stumped.

BMJ said...

ChaimMKeller called it JayHawklet

Correa's error tying the Miracle at Minute Maid

I do agree that winning the Pennant in 2014 and making the WORLD SERIES should have been a lot higher ranked than 46

Still - Rany deserves so much credit for putting all of this together. I cannot even imagine the labor of love involved.

What Rany may not realize is this tour de force compilation only cemented his status in Royals lore as an absolute legend, the kind Royals fans will still be talking about years after he pens his final blog

Well done sir!

JayHawklet said...

@BMJ, @ChaimMKeller,

Good call! For some reason I thought we'd seen that one already. That could've easily been scored a hit (it could go either way). I mean, it didn't draw leather, the ball had WICKED spin, and Morales hit the ball a lot harder than it would look like he did. He perfectly timed the pitch and barreled it, on the one hand, but on the other, didn't square it up and barely ticked it- which is why did moved like it did. It's a clean single if Harris doesn't glove it...extra bases, if not a home run if he swings .75" higher, and of course, a 6-4-3 if Correa keeps his eye on it.

This was an amazing list...the Royals should make some kind of greatest hits video- it's sell out.

Unknown said...

I don't think the last strikeout makes the list only because it was largely ceremonial, Sal didn't catch it (although I love Drew Butera), Wilmer got in the way (ruined it!) and because I can't remember seeing one other moment that I was sure was a top 10. But I haven't made a list to crosscheck my memory so I could be wrong.
Question about sabermathematics. Is the 1.90 run expectancy with runners on 2nd and 3rd the same in tight or important games as it is in blowouts? It seems context would affect the 1.90 and bring it down so it would be lower than the 1.84 cited above. If so, Bautista goes back to being a goat!

Jason said...

Actually, Eric, he said that last K is #1 because it was the play that won the World Series. Rany was on Petro's show yesterday, and I think he was confused. He thought the show was being taped to air on Friday, which they usually do, but they actually ran it Thursday, so he gave it away #1. It was kinda awkward.

JayHawklet said...

@Erik Avery,

I'm curious as to which moment you think it was. The only other one I can think of is Sal's flyout to Sandoval, since it was the motivating factor for the team to get back. Also, that play HAS to make the list somewhere. I can see why it might not be top 5 (I'm not sure it'd be in my top 5), but top 167 (or however many he's had on here)? Absolutely.

What you've ID'd with the run expectancy is one of the problems with saber metrics. Even when you're able to adjust for high leverage situations, it still assumes all plays are created equal, and they're not. Further, it assumes all RUNS are created equal, and they're not. If you're Toronto, Cain's run is your oxygen, your life blood. If he scores, KC's chances of winning the series are better than 95%. Cain, simply cannot be allowed to score. Bautista's throw, while it decreased the chances KC would score 2 runs, if he hits the cutoff man and keeps Cain at third, there's still a statistical probability that KC gets zero runs (Kendrys probably gets a free pass, and Moose and Sal get to bat with the bases loaded). By throwing to the wrong base, he increased the chances of KC scoring at least one run to 100%.