single with man on first (part 3)

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).

3 thoughts on “single with man on first (part 3)”

  1. “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? ”

    I started thinking about different situtations in the TPB game that may seem like the manager isn’t making the call but the players are….

    In this case in particular, I do agree…it might be a stretch to assume the base runner follows the direction of the 3rd base coach on plays from 1st to 3rd.

    Thinking about it more…were plays like with runners on 1st and 3rd base…Defense has option to go for DP or not. Another one is double steal…throw through to 2nd or let him advance and stay on 3rd….

    After some debate in the noggin…I decided these are manager’s calls. The catcher will give signs in the case with the Stolen base and the dugout will let the defense know what they want to do in the 1st and 3rd situation…but runners from 1st to 3rd…tough to defend.

    Another one is taking the extra base on a hit to the outfield….again in my view a player’s call not the managers….but if you take that away….speed becomes less important in the game…is that a problem?

    Random Thoughts…


  2. My opinion is that some (most?) of the reason for making this a manager’s decision is to account for all of the variables involved.

    How fast is the runner?
    How strong is the OF’s arm?
    How far is the throw (i.e. was the ball hit to lf, cf, rf)?
    How many outs are there?

    And I think that’s the problem with a “one size fits all chart” as you suggested. If Chone Figgins is at 1st with 2 outs, would he really stop at 2nd on a single to rf 72% of the time? Or would Benjie Molina really make it to 3rd on a single to left 26% of the time?

    Just my 2 cents 🙂

  3. To comment on Kurt’s comment….

    I think he’s saying what I was attempting to question at the end of my post. Taking it away could affect the importance of speef but also like Kurt points out the outfielder’s arm also.

    I think you can make a chart based on where the ball is hit and the runner’s speed. Then they advance but it would have to be adjusted speed based on outfielder’s throwing arm too….

    Thinking about it more…I do again question if it’s really a manger’s decision and think a chart could be made to cover speed, OF’s arm, ball hit, and outs.

    Lenny any ideas on a updated chart to play test?

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