Its not uncommon for Lebron James to take over a basketball game, or Tom Brady to take over a Football game.
But last night in game 1 of the World Series, Mookie Betts took over that game.
Not by hitting 3 homers.
Not by throwing a complete game shutout with 15 strikeouts.
He took over the game on the bases.
He led off the 5th inning with a walk. He already knew from watching video before the game and paying attention to the pitcher Tyler Glasnow that he was slow to the plate.
Glasnow was on average between 1.5 and 1.7 seconds to homeplate.
That was more than enough time for Mookie to steal 2nd and 3rd base. Easily. (A baserunner with average speed is looking for a pitcher to be in the 1.3 to 1.4 second range.)
Getting into scoring position by stealing 2nd and 3rd base was a big play because at that point the game was still close. But how he scored not only set the tone for the game, but possibly the series.
I’ve seen players mess up this EXACT situation many times. Here are some of the common mistakes…
- Thinking “OK I’m on base now. My job is done and so now it’s the hitters job to score me.”
- Not anticipating that each ball will be put in play, so runners are caught off guard and their reaction is late (happens ALL THE TIME)
- Timing of body momentum is off, either stopped or even leaning back toward 3rd in anticipation of a back pick from the catcher.
These might seem like small things, but I guarantee if Mookie had been doing any of these things… it would have cost him precious time and he would have been out at the plate.
And, the momentum of the game would have looked completely different with that outcome
Now let’s look at how Mookie took control of the situation….
His primary lead from 3rd base was average, but his secondary lead was aggressive and big.
He had his momentum slightly leaning to home plate in anticipation of seeing the down angle off the batted ball so he could run home.
He did everything perfect — and he needed to.
When Max Muncy hit a ground ball to the first baseman, who made a nice attempt on the play, Mookie was able to slide in safely at home.
This base running play was a result of a smart baseball player that was determined to score. The anticipation of the play some would say is instinctual, but I believe it was PREPARATION.
He knew based on experience (You have to know your speed and what it’s capable of) how big his lead needed to be, and he knew that he needed to react quickly to a ball off the bat.
Once he felt he had a chance to score, there was no second guessing.
In this situation, you can’t play scared.
He had to hustle and see what would happen.
It was a fantastic play, by a tremendous player.
It was interesting to see how a base running play can give one team so much momentum and confidence…
…and deflate another so much.
Exciting start to the World Series, lets see what game 2 has to offer.
Yours in baseball,