Time & Distance / Distance & Time

Time and Distance/Distance and Time Relationships

The final game of the Red Sox and the Indians provided a textbook example of two very important elements in baseball –especially for pitchers. And they are the relationship between Time & Distance and Distance & Time. A short summary of events last night that orbited these relationships are:

1st – When he could, Jake Westbrook of the Indians pitched to the double play. Why and how does it work? First of all, it takes about four(4) to four.five(4.5) seconds on average for a batter to make contact, uncoil, then travel ninety(90) feet to first. A base runner on first, who’s check’d by the pitcher for a respectful lead of … say, ten to fifteen feet can cover the distance from first to second – 80 – 75 feet, in even less time. Hence, Westbrook would delivered a pitch that would be rocketed to short for a 6 – 4 – 3. So, the hit to short took about over 1.5 seconds (give-or-take), the shortstop’s throw to second in about 1.25 – seconds, then the second baseman’s throw to first in about 1.25 seconds. All of these times consider retrieving the ball from the glove and split-second reactions to release the ball. So, 1.5 seconds for the hit, 1.25 to second base is about 2.75 seconds which is pretty close to beating and incoming runner, then turning the throw to first in about 1.25 seconds is just enough to beat the batter runner. Total elapsed time is 1.5 + 1.25 + 1.25 = 4 seconds , which is why the play at first on a double play is so close. Next time you’re in a game, do the math yourself.

2nd – The ball is hit and goes just past third base and bounces into shallow left field, which in turn is out of reach of the shortstop – but has the right fielder, Ramirez , charging in. With Kenny Lofton, a solid base runner, and still with a full head of steam rounding third with Ramirez in shallow left just gaining possession – it should have been a no brainier to waive him home. But, before you claim Monday morning guesswork on my part, consider this:
Lofton would have had at least ten(10) feet into the ninety(90) foot base path for a total of eighty(80) feet to travel and under a full gallop. His slowest time would have been about 3.75 seconds.
Any left fielder who gains possession in shallow left would find it a true test of athletic prowess to beat that time – in addition to being right on the money. Oh, it’s been done – but rarely.
And while I’m on the issue of a base runner on third base – don’t forget the last World Series with Jeff Suppan on third with a decent lead and his teammate hit a line drive to short – the shortstop looked Suppan back a bit then tossed all the way across the infield to first – with Suppan dead in his tracks. Suppan could have beaten any resulting throw from short to first then home. In fact, the next time your watching any game – time the throw from short to first, then multiply that time by it by 175% and you’ll come pretty close to the total elapsed time that a fielding play 6 – 3 – 2 evolves (and that’s if everything goes off like clockwork!).

Although these times may not reflect your level of competition you should study these relationships because they will definitely effect your pitch selection – not to mention your competency as a competitor. In fact, if your club is scheduled to play against a team that’s noted for their contact hitting & running game, I’ll bet you even money you’ll notice a big change in the rotation as well as the battery selection for that day.

And by the way, for those of you who are planning on a college career with baseball in the mix - if your banking on a spot with a good club, regardless of the level, don’t be surprised if some of the interview questions cover distance and time issues/plays. Your game knowledge of this sport can give you just the edge you need when the coaches are making their final selection. And it happens more often than you think.

Coach B.

“Any left fielder who gains possession in shallow left would find it a true test of athletic prowess to beat that time – in addition to being right on the money. Oh, it’s been done – but rarely.”

Considering that Manny is a designated hitter playing left field - if you know what I mean - this would have been a rarity indeed. But you have to have that bat in the lineup, and as long as Papi is grippin’ and rippin’, Manny’s got no where else to play.

Knowing this, I can’t understand why Skinner held Lofton up in a one run game with Ramirez jogging to the ball (as usual) and Lofton - still one of the fastest baserunners in the game or at least these playoffs - rounding third.

Coach, a guy doesn’t need to be a math wiz to know the odds on that play :lol:

Good read.

By the way, I went to/through your town a couple of days ago. I was in South Hadley this weekend visiting my sister at Mt. Holyoke college. There are some nice looking fields up there :stuck_out_tongue:

In defense of Third Base Coach Joel Skinner, I probably would have done the same thing – holding Lofton up at third, given the events at second base during the fifth inning of that game. And beyond the technicalities of “doing the math” , here’s why:
I’ve been a third base coach and it’s not as easy as some would like to think. The ground level view of play- in–real-time is far different from the view that fans have in the bleachers. A third base coach has to rely on a lot of things in making a judgment(s) call that go well beyond the simple antics of a player in the field of the apposing team, etc. Granted, a ball that’s in shallow left with a fielder gliding-in, is from your vantage point – a no brainier, regardless if you want to “do the math, coach”, or not.

However, I suggest that you stand in Joel Skinner’s shoes for a moment and consider his vantage point of the play that evolved at second base during the fifth inning with the same two players – Manny and Lofton. Regardless of anyone’s opinion, Manny’s throw from left caught Lofton – according to the umpire. And Lofton had a full head of steam rounding first - charging in on second. And by the way, Manny’s throw was not all that shabby – the guy has a good arm.

Now we go into the seventh inning and again, Lofton is giving the same picture to Coach Skinner, but, this time Lofton is coming into Skinner’s field of vision straight on, not with a side-view profile. I can tell you from experience, depth perception of an incoming base runner and the variables of fielding plays are extremely difficult to judge/call. A coach that’s spent any appreciable time as a third base coach will tell you – it’s better to be on the conservative side. Hence, it must have been difficult seeing exactly what and where Manny’s reaction was going to be and his disposition – while focusing on his base runner’s momentum. Also, let’s not forget that this is a pressure-cooker situation and having been there myself I find no fault whatsoever with Coach Skinner – none at all.

Finally, my post about the relationships between/among time and distance/distance and time, using the Red Sox game was purely an academic one. I was not finding fault – regardless of how it may have appeared. If this was not the case I owe a big apology to Coach Skinner, and those personnel involved in any play used in my explanation.

In addition, it is my understanding that this web site is an excellent teaching tool for youngsters and coaches in the amateur game who want an address for honest, mature, and reasonable dialogue. Any less would detract from a great opportunity to learn this craft of ours.
Therefore," Coach, a guy doesn’t need to be a math wiz to know the odds on that play is a little rough around the edges, but I assume your intent was a reasonable one. Again, I assume.
Coach B.

Don’t take yourself so seriously, coach. I was kidding around. However, for the record, I’ve coached third a bit too, and have been around baseball for a long time. I appreciate your comments regarding time and distance, and found them to be educational for both myself and my son. And without sounding like a suck-up, I’d like to say that your perspective raises the bar for the website in view of your experience and your ability to convey your knowledge to the rest of us.

As far as the play at third, we’ll never know what might have happened if Skinner had sent Lofton, but I wish he had. I’ve seen Ramirez throw too many two bouncers to the plate from that spot in left to believe he could have beaten Lofton with the throw.

That raises a question: Late innings, one run down in a high-stakes game, and you are the visiting team. You’ve been outscored a ton by this team in the last few games and you’re having trouble getting baserunners. How aggressive do you get when you do get a baserunner, and at what point in the game do you ramp up your aggression?

Don’t take yourself so seriously, coach. I was kidding around

Fair enough.
Coach B.