Results tagged ‘ inherited runners ’
Summaries simplify. That’s obvious. In baseball, statistical compilations and boxscores – even game accounts – are summaries, and thus simplifications of players’ performances. It’s a tradeoff we have to make – we simplify in order to comprehend the overwhelming details. In last night’s Rochester Red Wings – Norfolk Tides game, Tides’ relief pitcher Jason Berken was one of the positive contributors to the Tides 5-4 win, but that would be overlooked by looking at the statistics.
Historically, runs have been charged to the pitcher who put the runner on base. That made a lot of sense when there were relatively few mid-inning pitcher changes. Recently, observers noticed that relief pitchers often come into the game with runners on base. The relief pitcher can be ineffective and allow those runners to score, but the runs would be charged to the previous pitcher. Those runs would not be reflected in the relief pitcher’s statistics. The observers started keeping track of “inherited runners”, those runners who were on base when a pitcher entered the game. The percentage of inherited runners stranded – or not allowed to score – became recognized as a more accurate, more reliable measure of a relief pitcher’s performance.
Which brings me to Jason Berken. Berken’s “base” pitching line was okay:
1 2/3 innings pitched; 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 earned runs, 0 walks, 1 strikeout
But he also allowed one of two inherited runners to score. That lessens the positive impact of his not allowing any runs to score.
The Tides had taken their third lead of the game, 5-3, in their previous at-bat. The Tides had earlier taken a 1-0 lead in the first, only to give up two runs in the second; and a 3-2 lead in the fourth, only to give up the tying run in the fifth. After Zach Phillips gave up singles to the first two Red Wings’ batters in the seventh, past history would suggest that Rochester would tie the game or take the lead. Phillips got the next batter to hit into a forceout at second base, and then was removed from the game.
So Berken came into the game in the top of the seventh inning, with runners on first and third with one out, and the Tides holding a two-run lead. He got the first batter he faced to ground into another forceout at second base, with the runner on third scoring (the inherited runner.) The next batter hit a ground ball slowly enough that Ryan Adams could get to it in the hole between first and second and throw him out. The Tides still held a 5-4 lead. Berken gave up a leadoff single in the eighth inning before retiring the next three batters.
The game summaries deservedly highlight Adams and Jake Fox, who hit home runs and combined to drive in four runs. They even highlight Mark Worrell, who retired the last two batters. Berken’s performance as the true unsung hero is not even mentioned, and students of the boxscore won’t even notice it. That’s the price we pay for simplification.