The great Yogi Berra once said — or is said to have said — "You can't hit and think at the same time," but it's unclear whether his observation extended to baserunning immediately afterwards. On Thursday against the Mets, the Rockies' Michael Cuddyer provided a data point suggesting that's the case.
With Colorado trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Cuddyer led things off against New York closer Bobby Parnell by smacking a line drive to rightfield. That would have put the tying run on first base with nobody out… except that Cuddyer, who's not exactly known for his blazing speed, just kept going. Marlon Byrd got to the ball with reasonable speed and came up throwing, making a perfect one-hop peg to Omar Quintanilla, who applied the tag at second base. The play was close, but umpire Bob Davidson had no doubt he was out:
Who did Cuddyer think he was, Yasiel Puig? It was an aggressive play, but a lunkheaded one given that neither Cuddyer's speed nor Byrd's arm was at an extreme that made taking the extra base a good risk, and that it cost the Rockies one of their three remaining outs. Using 2013 run expectancy data from Baseball Prospectus, the average yield with a man on first and no outs is 0.83 runs, while with a man on second and no outs, it's 1.06 — but with nobody on and one out, it's down to 0.26 runs. In terms of win expectancy, the expectation with a man on first and nobody out, down by a run, is 41 percent, while with a man on second it's 62 percent — but with nobody on and one out, it drops to 8 percent. Ouch.
After Cuddyer was thrown out, Parnell whiffed Willin Rosario and induced Todd Helton to ground out, thus sending the Rockies to their third straight loss and 11th in their last 15 games. They're now 39-41, four games back in the crowded NL West race.
Baserunning aside, it's tough to blame Cuddyer for the Rockies' troubles. With three hits on Thursday, he extended his hitting streak to 24 games, the longest in the majors this year:
It's also the longest in franchise history.:
With hits in the next three games, Cuddyer can surpass last year's longest hitting streak, Jose Reyes' 26-gamer. He's got a ways to go to catch up to Dan Uggla's 33-game streak from 2011, to say nothing of Pete Rose's modern NL record 44-gamer from 1978, and he's not even halfway to Joe DiMaggio's 56-game one from 1941. Even before the streak, the 34-year-old Cuddyer had been raking. He's now hitting .351/.402/.597, numbers that rank second, fourth and third in the league, respectively, and even away from Coors Field, he's hitting .323/.370/.543. It's a performance worthy of a spot on the NL All-Star team, which would mark only the second time in Cuddyer's 13-year career that he's made it. He just has to hope that manager Bruce Bochy doesn't review his baserunning when filling out his roster.