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.

Read the full article here: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/can-we-see-double-plays-coming/

Originally published: October 21, 2013. Last Updated: October 21, 2013.