Temple: Can we see double plays coming?

From SABR member David G. Temple at FanGraphs on October 19, 2013:

In a playoff atmosphere, everything gets magnified a bit. Situations are always more tense, every little thing seems to carry more weight. It seems that, if you ask enough people, almost every play could be labeled as a “game-changer” by someone. That’s because there are only so many plays to go around. Outs are finite. In the playoffs, they seem astronomically finite. So when a home run is hit, or a great defensive play is made, it seems to matter more. An approving eyebrow raise in the regular season turns into a full-on shout in the postseason. A minimal eye roll on a random Wednesday in June morphs into an audible “UGH” sound in October.

Nothing can produce an audible reaction faster than a double play. The double play seems to be the only situation where both sides react in an equal and opposite way. Home runs are one-sided. Run-scoring singles are one-sided. Double plays raise sounds out of both sides. Someone is quite happy and someone is quite upset. This is because the twin killing is seen as such a momentum changer — it’s two outs for the price of one. The idea of momentum is something some in the statistical community scoff at a bit. They scoff because they scoff at things they can’t measure, at least accurately. But I’ll come right out and say it, I believe in momentum. I believe that when I’m in a good mood, I do better work. I pay more attention, I get things done quicker, and the overall product is of higher quality. I don’t know how to measure this on a baseball field, but I believe it exists there, too. To think that everything on a baseball field is static and has no affect on anything else in the entire game seems shortsighted. Double plays take wind out of sails, so to speak. They bother people.

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This page was last updated October 21, 2013 at 12:34 pm MST.

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