It’s not too often you see a Little League play work in the majors. And it didn’t work in the first inning when Billy Butler wandered off first base and got caught in a rundown and then Eric Hosmer got caught trying to score. Officially, Hosmer is credited with a caught stealing of home, the first in the postseason since Elvis Andrus in Game 3 of the 2011 American League Division Series.
The play is a little strange considering Butler is one of the slowest runners in the majors, but consider these facts:
--The count was 0-2 on Alex Gordon. He hit .136 on 0-2 counts on the season and .200 on all two-strike counts. Lester allowed a .118 average on 0-2 counts.
--Lester hadn’t thrown to first base ALL SEASON long, a much-tweeted topic before the game began.
--As Susan Slusser tweeted, a similar play had just worked against Lester.
I’m guessing the Royals had considered this play as a possibility given the right situation. So while everyone was ripping Butler on Twitter, the idea appears to have come from the bench or pregame scouting reports.
It just didn’t work. As Royals manager Ned Yost would later say in his in-game interview, Butler left too soon, not waiting until Lester had started his delivery. Still, while these plays are easy to pull off against 12-year-olds, they don’t work often in the majors.
Was it a bad play? You can argue if it had greater than a 15 percent chance of succeeding that it was a good play, given the odds of Gordon getting a hit on an 0-2 count. I don't know the odds of that play working -- especially with a baserunner like Butler -- since you rarely even see it attempted. I'd probably give Gordon -- one of your best hitters -- a chance to drive in the run, even with two strikes.
Just don't necessarily go blaming Butler for a bonehead play.