The Numbers Behind a Catch and a Just-Miss

From SABR member Mark Simon at on April 28:

You might remember on April 5 when Delmon Young had his game-tying three-run double in the eighth inning of the Minnesota Twins eventual extra-inning win over the New York Yankees. Right fielder Nick Swisher came within a hair of making a game-saving diving catch. Instead, the ball fell just beyond his reach and the Twins tied the game and went on to win the contest a few minutes later.

On Tuesday, in a spot not far from that just-miss, Chicago White Sox right fielder Brent Lillibridge made a diving catch of Robinson Cano’s line drive to end a win over the Yankees. Lillibridge gambled with an all-or-nothing dive and came up successful. Had he missed, as Swisher did, the ball would have likely rolled by him for a walk-off two-run double.

We asked Ben Jedlovec at Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) to take a closer look at both of those plays, to help us quantify the difference between an out and a hit. The results were quite intriguing.

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Originally published: April 29, 2011. Last Updated: April 29, 2011.