Could Randy Winn Have Scored? An Unscientific, Assumptive Look.

by on August 25, 2010 · 4 comments

Among the many topics being discussed today in the aftermath of last night’s loss to the Pirates is whether or not Randy Winn had a legitimate shot at scoring from second base on Albert Pujols‘ single in the top of the ninth inning.  Jose Oquendo thought not, and held him up, but was it the right call?

Using highly unscientific methods to try and put a quantifiable spin on this quandary, I used a screencap, PNC Park diagram, Adobe Illustrator, and some fuzzy math to come up with the answer.

I had to make some assumptions.  First, I assume that Randy Winn could make the trot from third base to home in 3.75 seconds at full speed (which he would’ve been, rounding third base with no stop sign).  Winn made it from his lead-off spot away from second base to third in about 3 seconds, so I am fairly comfortable with this assumption.  Second, I also assume that Ronny Cedeno is running at the same speed to go retrieve the ball.  That means they’re going approximately 24 feet per second.

Using the video of the play, I estimate that Cedeno is about 15 feet or so from the ball:

That means Cedeno will get to the ball in a little over six-tenths of  a second, approximately 0.625 seconds. (Unfortunately, this video doesn’t actually show him picking up the ball in a manner that can be timed.)  So by the time Cedeno picks up the ball, Winn still has 3.125 seconds to beat a throw home.

Continuing my wild methods and assumptions, I create the following diagram, showing the approximate location of Cedeno and ball when he retrieves it, with dimensions based upon scale from the outfield wall (and some rough guidelines for where the grass line lies on a MLB field):

So Cedeno is 166 feet from home plate with the ball, and Winn is 85 feet from the plate at full speed.  A couple of cursory Google searches tell me that a pro shortstop should be able to throw about 85 mph from his position to first base (hey, I told you this was going to be unscientific).  Assuming the ball to slow down a bit by the time it reaches home plate from his current location in short left field, say 80 mph, means that Cedeno can get the ball to the plate in about 1.4 seconds – IF you assume that he’s planting and making a strong throw.

That leaves Winn still 1.725 seconds from the plate – a little over 41 feet, in our scheme.  Seems like a bunch of real estate to make up, doesn’t it?

The critical time is in Cedeno retrieving the ball and how much strength he can get behind his throw.  Obviously this is a huge hole in this entire project, but you’re at least left with the one remaining variable – can Cedeno pick up the ball and set in 1.725 seconds?  Just as importantly, could he have gotten enough behind the throw to make the above assumptions correct?  And finally, could he have put it right on the plate and remove another variable – the catcher’s tag?

Ok, so maybe I haven’t really proven anything (not that I set out to, given the methods) – but it certainly seems more plausible than I thought that Cedeno could’ve gunned Winn down at home.

I’m not prepared to declare this myth busted – hard to say for certain if he’s safe or out – but my instinct still says you send him.

What do you think?  Safe or out?  Did Oquendo make the right call to stop Winn?

(Please keep the comments about my math and procedures to a low snark, k?)

Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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SMS_Mike August 26, 2010

I think Oquendo made the right call. But I love the ‘back of the envelope’ analysis in this post – excellent.

PH8 August 30, 2010

Thanks Mike – makes me sick to my stomach having to write about the actual outcome of these games, so I figure best sticking to the isolated events within them.

Lee August 26, 2010

He made the right call. Which sucks.

Of course, he really shouldn’t have even been put in such a position. We should not have been losing yet another game to the Pirates.

Sorry to sound bearish, but we need to start picking it up if we want to close the gap on the Reds.

PH8 August 30, 2010

Coulda, woulda, shoulda – fact is that the Cards have played down to their opposition all year – and up to it as well.

Team just isn’t responding to whoever is mixing the Kool-Aid.

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