This time I looked at how often runners on first were thrown out at third on a single. Again, no other baserunners. Not counted:
- Error on the play at third. (Errors allowing the batter to advance past first are OK.)
- Runner on first out at second or home.
- Runner safe at home.
- Baserunner hit by batted ball.
The percentage I’m interested in is the number of times the runner is out at third divided by the number of times the runner is out or safe at third. Again, I counted all the years available in the Retrosheet event files. Graph below. The line is the least-mean-squares linear fit.
I’m surprised how seldom the runner is out at third. There’s a clear downward trend, which indicates that runners and/or third base coaches have become more conservative. Perhaps stronger arms in the outfield are also a factor.
The whole exercise makes me question the role of TPB’s “sending runners” in these situations. (TPB out of the box, not ABL rules.) Why is this a manager’s decision? Runners will try for the extra base on their own, or take guidance from the third base coach. Would it be more realistic to roll for an advancement that is explicitly specified on a chart? Such a chart should be roughly:
- 26%: runner safe at third
- 2%: runner out at third
- 72%: runner holds at second
Then you could sprinkle in some potential errors & such. Of course, there would be a dependency on where the single was hit (as there is now).