Monday, June 20, 2005

Hold That Line

I enjoy the Glenn Williams story. I appreciate seeing someone from the other side of the globe finally get his shot in the majors after toiling in the minor leagues for a dozen years, and while wearing #16, maybe because a Mientkiewicz jersey just happened to be lying around when he showed up for his uni assignment, he hits .444 (8-for-18) in his first seven games and one night he even lives the thrill of being mobbed by his teammates when he chops a game-winning RBI in extra innings after entering the game as a late-inning sub. Seeing it does the heart good. It should give us hope in that the struggles of today may still yield a better tomorrow.

But somebody needs to tell him to guard that 3rd baseline!

My Mom played 3rd base for her fastpitch team while growing up in Portland; she's still the one person in my family who has been on ABC's Wide World of Sports, or taken part in any televised sporting event to my knowledge. So when I was a boy playing some 3rd base, I took it to heart when Mom told me, "A good 3rd baseman never lets a ball get by him down the line." Sure, I've learned that the axiom isn't absolute, but I still believe in the essential wisdom of her principle. Especially late in the game, and like when you have 2 outs and the bases loaded... you guard that line with your life, boy. There's no way, come hell or high water, that the #9 hitter should get to clear the bases and run Johan Santana out of the game by pulling an inside pitch past the 3B's right side. It's not the first time Williams has been caught off guard late in the game like that, either.

Coaches? A little word, please? Or does my Mom need to get on the case?

3 Comments:

At 6/20/2005 10:51 PM, Blogger TwinsJunkie said...

Studies (don't ask me for a reference) have shown that a third baseman is better off overall playing in the hole, because there are more runs saved there than runs are given up as a result. Of course, situations still dictate.

 
At 6/21/2005 2:37 AM, Blogger frightwig said...

In general that theory makes sense because I'd expect most balls hit to the 3B to go right at him or to his left, as most balls in play will be towards the center of the field. But, yes, the problem is when the 3B isn't especially careful to defend the line in situations when a hit that gets past him and down the line has disastrous consequences.

In the 7th on Sunday, a hard shot through the SS hole scores one run, maybe two; the batter is limited to a single and the man on 1st advances only one base. Any shot down the LF line scores three and puts the batter on 2nd. So in that case I want my 3B making it his top priority to guard the line.

 
At 6/21/2005 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always thought it's better to play farther off the line as well, unless the tying or winning run is on first base - where it could score on a double.

What you don't want to do is have your 'range' extend into foul territory, because then you're making the 'hole' bigger. Then you're more likely to give up a single. If they lace one down the line a foot fair... ya just got to tip your cap. About half the time they'll be foul and you might turn a double play the next pitch.

I thought Williams was fine, although I haven't been impressed with his fielding, I wasn't disappointed with him on that play.

Andy Wink
Twins Killings
Former 3B

 

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