Last night’s most excruciating plate appearance

Andrew Benintendi had the most excruciating plate appearance of last night’s World Series Game 2. It wasn’t because he was over-matched against Ryu Hyun-jin’s pitching; there were no Stanton-esque hacks at diving curveballs. Nor was there the nervous tension of accumulating foul balls, piling on the pressure for batter, pitcher and fan alike.

No, the at bat merely took an absolute age.

With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts singled up the middle. This brought up Boston’s No. 2 hitter, Benintendi, with runners on first and second. The Los Angeles Dodgers were holding on to a one run lead, meaning Benintendi’s plate appearance was to that point the highest leveraged moment of the evening for a Red Sox hitter. By the end of the night only three plate appearances would have a higher leverage, all coming with the bases loaded (two of which were set up by Benintendi’s eventual walk in this plate appearance).

A tense moment then. Let’s see how it played out.

NB: A timestamp of 1:59:00 means an hour and fifty-nine minutes into FOX’s broadcast of the game. Pitches are in bold; egregious faffing around is in italics.

1:58:45 – Ryu pitches to Betts.

1:58:56 – Betts, having singled, stands on first base, removes various apparatus from his person, and has a nice chat with first base coach Tom Goodwin.

With no play on a runner, no challenges being made, and no pitching changes in sight, the next pitch is presumably right around the corner.

1:59:12 – Ah. The Dodgers infield has a meeting on the mound. Ryu, catcher Austin Barnes and middle infielders Enrique Hernandez and Manny Machado are present. The television feed cuts to Ryan Madson throwing in bullpen, before switching to a commercial for batteries. It’s the last time we’ll see an effective battery this inning.

1:59:38 – Benintendi ambles around the on deck circle, rubbing pine tar on his bat. We see a graphic comparing the starts of Ryu and Boston pitcher David Price.

2:00:09 – Machado, still on the mound, kicks dirt around with a presumed purpose.

2:00:16 – Not to be outdone, Benintendi steps towards the batters box and also engages in a spot of dirt kicking.

2:00:20 – Benintendi steps out of the batters box and fiddles with his sleeves. The home plate umpire comes into view, face mask not yet on face.

2:00:32 – Ryu is on the rubber and finally everyone is in the right position for playing a game of baseball.

2:00:36 – Ryu steps off the rubber.

2:00:43 – Benintendi having stepped out, steps back in.

At this point it has been two minutes since we have seen a pitch. The only action has been an uncomplicated single to center field and a spot of landscape gardening.

2:00:49 – Ryu bounces the first pitch to Benintendi. Chekov’s dirt is kind to the Dodgers, and Barnes scrambles successfully to keep the runners in place.

2:01:26 – Ryu pitches. It’s ball two.

2:01:59 – Benintendi fouls off Ryu’s third offering. FOX delights fans of #narrative everywhere by showing the Red Sox postseason batting average with two outs.

Three pitches in a minute. Rob Manfred starts drafting a letter of congratulations to all involved.

2:02:26 – Benintendi is in the box (good), but steps out as Barnes calls time (bad). Ryu can be seen muttering under his breath in an indeterminate language.

2:02:37 – The runners are shown getting ready to take their leads, but relax in a telltale sign that someone, somewhere has called time. Benintendi fiddles with his gloves, eyes.

2:02:47 – Benintendi steps back in.

It’s been almost a minute since the last pitch. Rob Manfred drafts a letter formally renouncing the previous dispatch.

2:02:55 – Ryu delivers, and it’s a called strike two.

2:03:23 – Benintendi waits, but time is called and he steps out. Barnes jogs out to the mound to discuss dinner plans with Ryu. A Youtube TV commercial plays, with the thrills of the mound meeting relegated to the corner of the screen.

2:03:54 – Benintendi steps into the box. The Youtube TV ad is still playing.

2:03:56 – Benintendi calls time. The Youtube TV ad is still playing. Benintendi mutters under his breath.

It’s been more than a minute since the last pitch.

2:04:11 – Ryu delivers ball three. Benintendi goes for a wander, fiddles with gloves, eyes, hat.

2:04:38 – The full count pitch is on it’s way and Boston’s left fielder fouls it off, before stepping out the box.

2:05:09 – Ryu is on the rubber.

2:05:10 – Ryu steps off the rubber.

2:05:26 – Ryu shakes off Barnes once. Ryu shakes off Barnes twice. Ryu shakes off Barnes thrice.

2:05:33 – Benintendi, concerned about developing hypothermia, steps out for a little exercise.

2:05:38 – With Benintendi having long since left the picture, Ryu and Barnes finally agree on a pitch.

2:05:44 – Benintendi is back in the box.

It’s been more than a minute since the last pitch.

2:05:53 – Ryu delivers. Benintendi fouls off his offering, fiddles with gloves, hat, dirt, gloves.

2:06:16 – Barnes runs out to mound. Hernandez joins them. Replays show Dave Roberts, who has already eaten dinner, giving the go-ahead for the mound visit.

2:06:48 – Ryu pitches. Ball four.

2:07:09 – Roberts makes the call to the bullpen.

2:09:51 – Ryan Madson throws his first pitch.

Benintendi’s plate appearance, and the time either side of it, amounted to an eleven minute period in which eight pitches were thrown and none were put in play. There were six minutes between the first and eighth pitch of the PA, an average of 45 seconds per pitch.

High leverage situations call for a slowing of the pace, naturally. But it is not always necessarily thus. Per Dan Hirsch’s Baseball Gauge website, the play with the highest Championship Leverage in baseball history was an Eddie Murray bases-loaded at bat in Game 7 of the 1979 World Series. Murray flew out on the fifth pitch, two and a half minutes into the plate appearance.

The play with the second highest Championship Leverage in baseball history was Tony Womack vs Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning of 2001’s World Series Game 7. Womack doubled in the tying run on the fifth pitch, less than 80 seconds after Rivera’s initial offering.

Even Rajai Davis’ game-tying home run off Aroldis Chapman in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series was not overly drawn out. Davis’ homer came on the seventh pitch of the at bat, just over two and a half minutes after the first pitch from Chapman. With all the recent talk of sign stealing paranoia, it’s worth noting that all of the above at bats came with runners on second base.

I have no grand conclusions to make here, aside from noting that that was a pretty unbearable ten minutes in an otherwise entertaining game of baseball. Just pick up the pace a little bit, eh fellas.

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48 Comments on "Last night’s most excruciating plate appearance"

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Doug
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I’m with you, Aidan. That AB took far too long. I think it was last season that, for the first month or so, the home plate umpire would warn the hitter to get back in the box if he left it (even with time called, the hitter’s supposed to have at least a foot in the box as he fiddles with his batting gloves, or whatever). But, that experiment has evidently been forgotten. Kike had a long AB as well, but at least that was a battle, with Hernandez fouling off pitch after pitch, which those offerings seeming to be… Read more »
John
Guest

So much for pace of play, huh?

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

I was puzzled by this post all the way through — it was engaging, but I was distracted by wondering whether Doug had developed a split personality problem. So it was more of a relief than a surprise to discover at the end that the post was from Aiden. Nice to hear an alternative voice (not that there’s anything wrong with Doug’s!).

Doug
Guest

Game 5 was just the 6th game of 3 hours or less in the past twelve World Series. In contrast, in the eleven World Series from 1962 to 1972, there was only one game longer than 3 hours, and only two games longer than 3 hours (both 12 inning games) in all the World Series from 1903 to 1944.

CursedClevelander
Guest

So not quite sure where to put this, as it’s completely off-topic, but I’ve been posting here since 2011 so I do feel a kinship to many other commenters – I’m going to be taping Jeopardy! on November 28th. Once I have an airdate of my show, I’ll definitely post it here. Unfortunately it’s not Sports Jeopardy but I can only hope some baseball will come up.

Paul E
Guest

CC
Good luck – Sports and Entertainment for $ 100 : Who was the first major leaguer to throw a no-hitter and win a batting title?

CursedClevelander
Guest

If that’s a $200 question, I’d be in trouble! I looked it up but I’ll let others have a crack at it.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

That is not a $100 question.

(And the answer is not Babe Ruth via the Ernie Shore game)

Richard Chester
Guest

The answer is not Smoky Joe Wood but he did pitch a no-hitter and finished 10th in BA with .296 in 1918 only a mere 86 points behind Ty Cobb.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

I’d guess Cy Seymour.

Paul E
Guest
How’s this for a mea culpa? Years ago (at least 30 or so) I ABSOLUTELY read somewhere that James Bentley (Cy) Seymout threw a no-hitter. It was possibly on a long list in the Sporting News record book, not exactly sure. Well, it appears that I’m a liar and the best Seymour ever did was 2 one-hitters in 1898 (per SABR page) with four shutouts that season. Yes, that question was off the top of my head and, obviously, not quite the source of knowledge it might hope to be. So, another crappy day for an aspiring (and failing) game… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest

Paul, You mean I got the right answer to a wrong question? Do I still get the trophy?

CursedClevelander
Guest

Paul, luckily, there is a correct answer. Guy Hecker did both – AA batting title in 1886, and a no-hitter in 1882. He’s also one of two pitchers to have a three HR game as a batter (other one is Jim Tobin), and the only pitcher with 6 hits in one nine inning game.

Paul E
Guest

CC
Way to bail a brother out
Thanks!

mosc
Guest

Clearly the top tier question on a sports-themed Jeopardy spinoff let alone the real thing.

Scary Tuna
Guest

That’s exciting news, CC! You’ll be a great Jeopardy! contestant. Definitely let us know when it will air. I hope that all goes smoothly with the games and travel, and that it’s a truly memorable experience for you.

Richard Chester
Guest

CC: And be sure to mention that your favorite past time is commenting on HighHeatStats.

CursedClevelander
Guest

Hopefully since HHS is a non-profit endeavor, plugging the site wouldn’t be considered payola!

no statistician but
Guest
Willie McCovey’s passing deserves some notice. I can’t think of him without thinking also of two of his contemporaries, Orlando Cepeda and Harmon Killebrew, Cepeda because he and Willie jockeyed for the first base position in SF for several years, Killer because he and Willie were similar hitters with similar liabilities on base and in the field. By JAWS and other rating systems McCovey tops the three, and his 1969 season is certainly the best any of them put up. 1969 was Killebrew’s best year, too, and it’s interesting to compare the two seasons, McCovey first: PA: 623—709 R: 101—106… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Well, during the formative years of McCovey’s career I was still a rabid fan of the Dodgers, and I guess the tribute I can offer is that it was scary to have him playing as an opponent. His 1959 rookie year was like Puig’s initial months in 2013, though not as colorful — I just couldn’t believe the Giants had brought up someone even more dominant than Cepeda. (They were successive Rookies of the Year.) I was hoping he’d be a flash in the pan, and for a while it seemed he might be, but I was disappointed. Unlike Mays… Read more »
Paul E
Guest
OPS+ ages 30-32, >1,200 PA’s 1 Babe Ruth 203 2 Ty Cobb 190 3 Willie McCovey 188 4 Mickey Mantle 187 5 Lou Gehrig 187 6 Frank Robinson 182 7 Dick Allen 181 8 Honus Wagner 177 9 Barry Bonds 176 10 Ted Williams 176 That ‘stretch” for McCovey from 1968-1970 kind of cemented his reputation as a Hall of Fame hitter, at least, for me it did. He was the superior, I believe, of Stargell and Killebrew (more contact-higher average/fewer GIDP)) as well as Cepeda (took a walk/Cepeda never really did). But, by the same token: Seasons >/= 5.9… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest

Unrelated to anything:
Bill James just wrote one of the most significant and important things he’s done in years, and it’s really bad news for people who like balls in play. I’d absolutely recommend it as highly as I can to anyone interested.

https://www.billjamesonline.com/the_strikeout_pushpull_effect/

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
Doom, It seems to me that James is saying two things: recent success for teams and hitters who reduce batter K rates creates condition for lower K rates, but the greater success of high-K-rate pitchers more than counters that by driving teams to focus on assembling staffs of high-K-rate pitchers. The drive to increase K’s among pitchers will likely continue to more than overcome the drive to lower K’s among batters. The underlying dynamic of James’s logic seems to me to support the dynamic of your earlier analysis, which is simply that high-K-rate pitchers, by virtue of the nature of… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest
Some points that I would add: 1) Nothing that James concludes ought to be surprising to those who have seen Doug’s occasional charts depicting the increase in strikeouts over the years, nor to those who have gathered the import of recent discussions here about current trends in pitching approach, notably those that isolate and define the current ideal as the 81-pitch, 27-strikeout game, which, after all, is the underlying premise of pitching perfection in the formulation of pWAR. 2) What James doesn’t mention—unless I skipped over it in his very lengthy, repetitive, somewhat self-defensive article, written in a digressive style… Read more »
mosc
Guest
His Hurricane analogy is bad statistics. I’m sorry to criticize such a prominent guy but it’s just poorly done statistics. If we assume a pitcher’s success has any correlation with Strikeouts (seems hard to argue that there is none) then you have to normalize how often they obtain that goal in reference to the percentage of outcomes. For example on the extremes where a pitcher either strikes out 1 guy a season or 2 guys a season, it probably makes no performance difference but the K rate would double. Similarly, a pitcher who strikes out 80% vs one who strikes… Read more »
Dr. Doom
Guest
Hey, folks! I’m still hoping that Doug will be posting my final awards voting post soon – it has the Rookie and Manager awards. But until then, I wanted to point out that MLB has unveiled its three “finalists” for each of the major awards. I wanted to point out that we, collectively, were right in tune with the BBWAA top-3 in both leagues for Cy Young voting (deGrom, Scherzer, and Nola in the NL; Verlander, Snell, and Kluber in the AL), and we had two out of three in the MVP voting for both leagues (we had Yelich, Baez,… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
I saw the “finalists” story on mlb.com yesterday and was surprised: I guess I haven’t been following closely these past few years and didn’t realize this new process was being used: the old slow-reveal. Really, what’s the point? The ballots are all in and tabulated. It reminds me of beauty pageants: “And the second runner-up is . . .” My first thought was, “What revenue stream is this designed to generate? Or is it a circus ploy for its own sake?” I did notice that our ideas about the MVP and CYA were close to the voters’, Given their past… Read more »
CursedClevelander
Guest

So they released the Today’s Game ballot and it’s pretty weak.

Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Harold Baines, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Lee Smith, George Steinbrenner, Charlie Manuel and Lou Piniella.

I think Steinbrenner belongs and there’s a pretty good case for Piniella.

no statistician but
Guest
I’ll just say this: Being no fan of players who go out of control or hide behind emotional instability as an excuse, I still think Albert Belle, considered on his record alone, was a remarkable player. People who explain away the jerkdom, for instance, of Jimmy Piersall both during and after his playing career on the grounds that he had ‘issues’ that should be considered—I strongly suspect that these people somehow fail to give similar credence to issues like those that plagued Belle which were less outwardly forgivable. Piersall, too, used his reputation as a ‘flake’ to get away with… Read more »
CursedClevelander
Guest
Oh, not at all, Belle was a tremendous hitter. I saw his prime in Cleveland – scary good extra base guy. But he had a short career due to his hip trouble and contributed little besides his bat, and his offense came during a boom period for bats. In his favor, during his prime, he was extremely durable – I think during that 7 year stretch he may have missed about 10 games? And though he was a prickly personality to put in mildly, I never got the feeling that his teammates disliked him. I mean I don’t think Will… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

HOFer or not I could not find anybody to match those 7-year stats. His OPS+ was actually 156.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

I think we’re smart enough on this site to know that the people whose public personas are loud and obnoxious are far from the worst people.

The true monsters put on a good face.
Some of the people most worthwhile to get to know in my experience have been ‘challenging.’
I’ll take the assholes over the army of phonies.

Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
I don’t know what was wrong with Albert Belle. I do know that I was excited about Roger Clemens when he was young, and following his record in every game, until, upon Belle’s return from treatment for alcoholism, Clemens heckled him about his drinking problem — so much for Clemens, in my book. I was sorry he put together a Hallworthy career, and unsurprised to discover he’d taken shortcuts to do it. As a player, Belle was awesome. His career is not HoF quality, but his peak unquestionably was. I agree with CC that none of the players on the… Read more »
CursedClevelander
Guest
Bob, I definitely respect your opinion, and I don’t even entirely disagree. But going by the standard the HoF has set for owners and execs – I mean, pretty much every commissioner that served more than a few years is in the Hall. Happy Chandler is there. Walter O’Malley is the devil incarnate to many NY area fans, and he’s in. Tom Yawkey’s teams never won a WS and his Red Sox were the last team to integrate – but he’s in. Effa Manley is most famous for the many rumors that she slept with her players – she’s in.… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
CC, As for O’Malley, I’m a Brooklyn fan — To Hell with O’Malley! — but objectively, the greater blame lies with another SOB, Robert Moses, and O’Malley is the man who broke through baseball’s half-continent mental block. His influence on the modern game was enormous. I’d never say, “To the Hall with O’Malley!” but there are valid reasons why, if executives are going to be there, he might be numbered among them. (Mom, if you’re surfing the web up there, please forgive me!) Chandler in no way whatever belongs in the Hall. His only claim is that he did not… Read more »
CursedClevelander
Guest
Bob, to be sure, I knew I was engaging in the “If X, then Y” fallacy, the idea that an inductee needs only pass the minimum standards of the worst Hall of Fame members to be a viable candidate. My only counter argument would be that with executives, do we even know where the line is? We know that Lloyd Waner and Tommy McCarthy and Freddie Lindstrom are bad choices because we know what a good choice looks like. There are objective standards (and some subjective ones, certainly) that we know a player has to reach and they clearly fell… Read more »
Bob Eno (epm)
Guest
CC, after reading your comments it seems to me that we are basically of one heart and one mind on the essentials. My basic view of the appropriate dimension of the “executive circle” is that it should have a diameter of one point: no one should be in the Hall because they were an executive, regardless of how successful in executing. The Hall was not intended to honor people with big bankrolls or high performance ratings in a desk job. It has nothing whatever to do with the concept of the Hall, and the only reason the Hall includes executives… Read more »
Paul E
Guest

Bob epm,
“I don’t know what was wrong with Albert Belle?”
Perhaps, roid rage? He was either the most insecure and defensive baseball player that I have ever seen or the most belligerent. He was a 220# Billy Martin. His numbers were created in perhaps the greatest offensive era of all time and he certainly had great teammates. FCS, he batted between Manny and Thome…and later, Frank Thomas. That 156 ops+ is fantastic but certainly has been duplicated-even in his own era. Great hitter, though, for sure
Is it “automatic” that someone from this proposed group makes Cooperstown?

CursedClevelander
Guest

Actually, during Belle’s best years in Cleveland (1994 and 1995), he batted between Carlos Baerga and Eddie Murray. Cleveland’s lineup was so stacked that Manny Ramirez usually batted 7th (!) with Thome batting 6th.

Wasn’t until 1996 after we traded Murray and Baerga mid season that it tended to be Thome/Belle/Ramirez, though sometimes it was Thome/Belle/Julio Franco.

Doug
Editor

Belle’s unique 50 double/50 HR season will always stand out for me, more especially for coming in the shorter 1995 season. He came within a whisker or two of repeating the feat in 1998, one of only three 200 hit seasons with 45 doubles and 45 HR.

CursedClevelander
Guest
Belle has one of my favorite monthly splits ever. In September/October of 1995, his 50/50 season, his line in 120 PA’s was .313/.420/.929 with 10 doubles, 17 homers…and 4 singles. His BABIP was .203. I figured, he must have been tattooing the ball every time up and just getting robbed, right? Well, I investigated it using retrosheet’s PbP accounts and looking at the his distribution of outs. And I found out he really wasn’t being robbed. I don’t have the exact numbers any more, but almost all of his ball-in-play outs were grounders, pop flys, or routine fly balls to… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

Belle, Sammy Sosa, Hank Greenberg and Barry Bonds (twice) are the only players with 30+ hits in a month with more HR than all other hits combined. I counted Sept/Oct as a month.

Paul E
Guest

Total Bases, Ages 27-31

1 Lou Gehrig 1967 1930 1934
2 Stan Musial 1808 1948 1952
3 Sammy Sosa 1785 1996 2000
4 Albert Belle 1756 1994 1998
5 Al Simmons 1752 1929 1933
6 Jimmie Foxx 1737 1935 1939
7 Willie Mays 1731 1958 1962
8 M. Cabrera 1726 2010 2014
9 A.Rodriguez 1716 2003 2007
10 Hank Aaron 1706 1961 1965

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Rick Ankiel is attempting a comeback as a pitcher at age 39.
He hasnt pitched in the Bigs since 24.

That would be beautiful.

Doug
Editor

It would also be unique.

Paul Schreiber is the only pitcher to appear before age 25 and again aged 39+, but not in between. However, his “comeback” was a wartime emergency promotion (?) from a coach and lasted less than a week.

Richard Chester
Guest

Schreiber pitched in the ML at age 20 in 1923 and then again in 1945 at age 42. I believe he was a batting practice pitcher in 1945, that’s what kept him in shape.

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