Bob Davidson has a history with the Phillies. Last year he received a rare one-game suspension from Major League Baseball after he got into an F-bombfull argument with Charlie Manuel. An argument that was started because Davidson himself got in the way of a play to the Phillies’ detriment.
So you can imagine he was not so well-received by the Phaithful last night when he botched a call at second base. Ben Revere was in first, Michael Young was at the plate and put the ball into play. Revere slid into second base head first on what appeared to be a totally clean slide, breaking up the double play. Here it is, courtesy of our buddy Bill at Crashburn Alley:
Revere is on the bag. Yes, he is clearly trying to break up the second baseman’s rhythm, but that always happens. Except in this case Davidson ruled that Revere interfered and, subsequently, the double play was awarded to the White Sox. Which is frankly crazy because interference is never called when a runner is still on the base. Hell, it’s never called as long as he’s within arm’s reach of it. Sometimes it’s never called when the runner is two or three feet from the bag. And in this case Revere didn’t appear to even touch the second baseman at all.
What was he even seeing here?
If you are old enough and lame enough as I am, you may have lurked around on sabermetic message boards in the 1990s. If you did, you may have heard of Sherri Nichols, who back in the day, was a significant contributor to the advancement of statistical analysis, particularly defensive analysis.
While it’s probably better that not everyone is as old and nerdy as me, the downside of it is that most people haven’t heard of Nichols and know nothing about her contributions. That changes today with Ben Lindbergh’s excellent analysis of Nichols and her work over at The Ringer, which I recommend that you all read.
The short version: Nichols is the one who planted the seed about on-base percentage being valuable in the mind of Baseball Prospectus Founder Gary Huckabay, back in the late 80s. She’s also the one most responsible for the rise of zone-based defensive metrics in the 1990s, such as Defensive Average, which she created and which served as the basis for other such metrics going forward. She also played a critical role in the development of RetroSheet, which collected almost all extant box score and play-by-play information going back to the turn of the 20th century, thereby making so much of the information available at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs possible. A key contribution there: making the information free and available to everyone, rather than closing the underlying data off as proprietary and either charging for access or keeping it in-house like some recent data collectors have chosen to do. Ahem.
A larger takeaway than all of Nichols’ contributions is just how loathe the baseball community was to listen to a woman back then. I mean, yeah, they’re still loathe to listen to women now, as indicated by the small number of women who hold jobs in baseball operations departments, but back then it was even worse, as evidenced by Lindbergh’s stories and Nichols’ anecdotes.
A great read and a great history lesson.