Blue Jays And The Power Of The Flub
The Jays have been making too many careless mistakes (“flubs”). Is that a strong contributor to their recent struggles?
Two summers ago, he-who-must-not-be-named he-who-must-not-be-named made the point that the Jays were making too many mental errors These mistakes, he contended, had a greater effect of the Jays’ success than was reflected in the boxscore – if they were reflected at all. I was (painfully) reminded of these comments watching last night’s game.
Welcome to the “flub”.
By my definition a flub is a play that should have been made correctly, but was not, and for which the player did not receive an error. It could be failing to take the extra base, or throwing to the wrong base, or just missing a play that should have been made. Flubiness is subjective, and a certain amount is to be expected – even the best players make mistakes. But, in theory, the better players (and better teams) make fewer of them than their opponents do.
Toronto Blue Jays
To illustrate the point, let’s have a look at last night’s game between the Jays and the Red Sox and track the running flub count.
Bottom of the 1st – Lourdes Gurriel dives for a Martinez liner, but it is just out of his reach. This is not a flub – it was a very difficult play that few (any?) SS would have made. Still 0-0 in the flub count.
Top of the second – Devon Travis hits a single past third, slows down passing first, and is thrown out by three feet trying to stretch it into a double. Toronto 1, Boston 0
Bottom of the 4th – Travis fails to touch second (error) and fails to complete the double play. Give him the benefit of the doubt – no flub on the throw to first. Still Toronto 1, Boston 0
Nunez squibs one in front of the plate. Happ and Martin both hesitate, and the throw is soft. Toronto 2, Boston 0.
Betts hit a pop foul that lands right in the centre of Smoak’s glove, then pops out. Would have ended the inning. Toronto 3, Boston 0.
Top of the 5th – Travis hammers one off the fence, but (perhaps remembering the top of the second?) holds up at first on a pretty certain double. Toronto 4, Boston 0.
So play the game of “what if”. If the Jays had not made these flubs – or even if they had just made one less flub in the 4th – the Jays might well win that game on Thursday.
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The bottom line
Last night’s flub count is interesting for two reasons. First, that the Jays made so many – and how much it cost them. Second, that the Sox did not (based on my viewing, at least) even make one. A single game does not prove a point, but last night certainly supported the value of smart, well-executed baseball.