Have you ever watched a baseball game and seen a terrible play that doesn't get recorded as an error? Have you seen the out at second and then the horrible throw to first that would have easily been a double play? Of course, we can't assume the double play. The defensive player does not get punished statistically whether it was a terrible throw, a missed catch, or a simple mishandling of the grounder because we can't assume two even if it is blatantly obvious that the double play would have been made. For such a category, I suggest the Dumb###. The statistic will henceforth be known as the DA.
Through watching much baseball this summer, fellow Sportsline member BHawk and I have worked on developing the DA. Anytime a should be double play is missed, since we can't give the player the error they get the DA. When the outfielder takes a dumb route to a ball or misplays the fly, as long as it doesn't hit their glove there is no error. As long as they don't throw it away there is no error. But these misplays and poor routes cost a team bases. They get the DA. (Watch out Soriano and Ankiel)
Honestly, how many times this season has Rick Ankiel had a fly ball he appeared set for land behind him? How many players try to make diving or otherwise spectacular catches just to have the ball go by them? Some don't get errors at all. That's what the DA is for. Some of these plays do get 1 base errors, but really the horrible play cost more than that. These rare cases call for the E and the DA.
How about the outfielder throwing to the wrong base trying to make a spectacular play that he had no chance at just to allow the other runners to advance unnecessarily? To be concise, any bad defensive play that does not result in an error or resulted in even worse outcomes than the charged error describes, the player gets charged with a DA.
However, we cannot limit the DA to just defensive plays. Players have proven that they can be dumb on offense as well. Unfortunately, my Cubs are a prime example of this. Even this year still, they are a prime example. The Moises Alou days of base running are behind us in Chicago, but the blunders remain. Alfonso Soriano has proven himself recently. Twice in the past week he has been picked off of first base. These pick off moves could not have come as that large of a surprise. Each happened after at least one pick off move had already been made since the previous pitch. Yet Soriano still gets picked off. DA.
Ryan Theriot has been batting first or second for most of the year, yet he still wants to get caught stealing nearly half of his nearing 40 stolen base attempts. Some aren't his fault. Some are decent enough spots. The caught stealing is punishment enough. But what about the times he is on second base and tries to steal third with the power players at the plate? DA, plain and simple.
Anybody remember Ronny Cedeno oversliding second base against the Cardinals on a base on ball to be tagged out? DA.
I won't limit the finger pointing to my poor Cubs. I'm sure everybody has seen Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton jog around to second base to be tagged out. DA.
What about the players who admire homers that never make it over that fence to cost themselves an extra base (Hanley Ramirez)? Or the players that forget how many outs there are so that they are thrown out on a flyball for running too far from the bag (Rickie Weeks)? How about those that don't pay attention to where the ball is and try to advance on a grounder that is hit in front of them when there's no force? DA. DA! DA!
Base running should be fundamental. If the defense doesn't have to do something spectacular or perfectly to throw you out, chances are you did something that should result in a DA. The one gray area is caught stealings. These DA's should be based on outs, who's up, which base was being attempted for, and how far one was thrown out by. Keeping these things in mind, it should be obvious when a player commits a stealing DA.
Finally, why limit this to players? Managers need to be held accountable for their poor game managing execution. Of course these need to be harder to give out than a player's DA. We can't just give DA's out to managers when we disagree with them. There needs to be a purpose. When Dusty Baker bats out of order, that deserves a DA. When Dusty Baker insists on batting Corey Patterson in the lead off spot, that deserves a DA. When Dusty Baker decides to leave a young stud pitcher in a game for 130+ pitchers he deserves a DA for guiding the creation of the next Mark Prior. When Dusty Baker decides to hit and run with Neifi Perez at the plate or on base, that deserves a DA.
I'll try to stray away from Dusty Baker for a moment, but if any manager does these things they deserve a DA. Overthrowing a young pitcher, an unstretched out pitcher, or a pitcher who does not need to be in the game any more due to a sizable lead (Ned Yost) they deserve a DA immediately. Then the pitcher and the rest of the team can feel the further ramifications of these decisions further down the line.
Players aren't the only ones responsible for base running gaffes either. Calling for hit and runs with slow base runners or poor contact hitters deserves a DA whether they get lucky and succeed or not. Tony La Russa calling for his patented suicide squeeze with the top of the order coming up and/or nobody out deserves a DA. Honestly, don't most teams actually anticipate a suicide squeeze from the Cardinals any more.
Really, we just needs to hold the players and managers accountable any time they don't play fundamental baseball. The error rules are too loose and lenient. The DA stat by no means would go down as being as severe as an error. Errors are terrible plays. But DA's are far from good plays either. Come, join the movement to start keeping the DA statistic.
Final note: I had 3 great pictures for this blog. Sportsline, allow out of site images as long as they're credited. It's impossible to find good images you'll allow. The one of Dusty Baker made this post.