July 9, 2012
Erick Aybar Takes an Extra Base
Few things in baseball are more fun to watch than clever baserunning. Therefore, Erick Aybar’s heads-up play on Saturday night deserves a mention.
The play started conventionally enough. Aybar, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, stood at first base with two outs in the inning. The fun began when Bobby Wilson hit a groundball past a diving Wilson Betemit. Betemit remained on the grounder longer than necessary, at which point Aybar took off for third base. By doing so Aybar tested J.J. Hardy’s speed (as Hardy took off to cover third) and Xavier Avery’s arm strength and accuracy (he had to make a strong throw to a moving target). Neither Hardy nor Avery passed Aybar’s pop quiz.
With runners on first and third with two outs and Mike Trout do up, you might expect that the Angels cash in on Aybar’s brilliance. They didn’t—Trout popped up on the second pitch. Aybar’s play didn’t affect the score, and only nudged the Angels’ run expectancy by 0.04 runs. Some may argue that the risk didn’t match the reward, and it’s an interesting point—especially with Trout due up and Aybar’s capability of scoring from second on a single.
But Aybar’s play did accomplish two things: 1) it entertained us and 2) it works as a segue to introduce extra bases taken. Baseball-Reference’s stat gives credit to a player whenever he takes more bases than necessary on a play—i.e. if a player goes first-to-third on a single. Here are the leaders in raw total (minimum: 150 plate appearances):
And in percentage form:
Aybar, for his part, is taking an extra base a career-worst 42 percent of the time (previously 53 percent). League-average is 40 percent.