Worst Play In MLB History
While the early excitement seemed to indicate Javier Baez had the greatest base running play in MLB history, the truth is what happened was an embarrassment. When you break it all down Baez was actually involved in the worst ever play.
Before breaking it down, here’s the game situation. There were two outs and a runner on second when Wilson Contreras stole second base. Baez hit a grounder off Tyler Anderson to third. That’s when we saw bad go to worse to putrid.
El Mago magic!
Have you ever seen anything like this?! pic.twitter.com/aHQs6eAxCG
— MLB (@MLB) May 27, 2021
First off, Erik Gonzalez‘s throw was way off-line. To be fair to him, that wasn’t that big a deal considering Baez was doing a light job towards first, an important consideration for what’s been deemed a great base running play.
Now, all Will Craig had to do was touch the bag or tag Baez. With their being two outs, once he did either, the inning is over.
Baez decided to have fun and move towards home plate. Considering Baez is much quicker, Craig really had zero chance to tag out Baez, at least not initially.
Instead of just heading back to first and stepping the bag, he chased Baez down. Now, it’s only 90 feet between home and first, and runners aren’t permitted to run outside the baselines to avoid the tag. Ipso facto, at some point Baez just loses and will have to be tagged out.
Baez reached that point, but when he reached that point, Contreras was trying to score from second. At this point, it is important to keep in mind, according to MLB rules, Contreras’ run does not count until Baez reaches first safely.
That meant when Craig threw to Michael Perez, the play for Perez was to tag out Baez. Actually, correct that, the play was for Craig to never throw it and to eventually tag out Baez or force him out of the baseline.
Alas, Craig threw to Perez, who, like Craig, was more concerned about Contreras than Baez. In any event, Contreras beat Perez’s tag which should not have mattered. After missing Contreras, Perez turned his attention to Baez.
Keep in mind while this was happening, there wasn’t a Pirates player at first base. Craig is near home plate. Anderson is who knows where. Adam Frazier is still at his original defensive position.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. Look back at the play. Once Craig catches it, the other Pirates infielders begin heading off the field.
To a certain extent, how can you blame them? After all, there’s really no possible way they should have been involved in the play. Again, Craig needed to step on first or walk back Baez to tag him when Baez ran out of room. As we know, Craig totally screwed up this play.
Well, when Craig threw the ball, he left Baez a clear path to first. That left Perez trying to hit Frazier on the run.
Not only did Perez miss Frazier, but it went into right field. What’s important here is even if Frazier caught it, it didn’t matter as he had zero shot of beating Baez to first. To wit, you have to ask why Frazier didn’t just stop and try to knock the ball down.
Well, Frazier didn’t. As a result, not only was Baez safe at first, but he was able to take off for second.
Making matters worse was Gregory Polanco did what he was supposed to do, and yet, he made a mistake as well. Poland’s charged in to back-up the play. However, the ball got by him. He rushed back to right and made a harried throw.
Polanco’s throw was off the mark, and it rolled towards third. In a twist of irony, Gonzalez, the same player whose throw off the mark gave way to this disaster, picked up the ball to effectively end the play.
So to recap, Baez doesn’t run, and Gonzalez makes an errant throw. Craig doesn’t tag Baez or step on first. Instead, he throws it, and no one covers first. When the ball is thrown away, not only did Baez get first, but he also got second.
In the end, this was just about the worst play you’ll ever see. The Pirates embarrasses themselves. Other than Contreras who busted it and scored from second, there aren’t too many involved in that play who did everything right. That includes Baez who initially jogged lightly to first.
People will understandably and justifiably love this play. They should. It was a truly fun and bizarre play. That said, make no mistake here. This is the worst play we’ve ever seen.