With one out in the eighth inning last night, Jarrod Dyson scored from third on a "sacrifice fly" by Alcides Escobar to give the Royals a 4-3 lead. Last night, in both the game thread and on Twitter, I read numerous remarks from Royals fans about what an incredible play it was, what a testament it was to Dyson's speed, etc.
Some Minnesota observers had a different take:
Coomer's complaint is that Casilla didn't immediately plant, pivot and throw home. (The catch was good; a throw, against Casilla's body, strong and accurate enough to catch Dyson would have been even more impressive.) Coomer sees this play, and the stolen base play, as further examples of Casilla's pattern of mental errors, that he wasn't adequately aware of the game situation.
My read is that both the Dyson hyperbole and any move to blame Casilla are both wrong.
Escobar's flyball was certainly quite short, but that also makes it more likely to be successful. Really, only a member of the infield had a chance to catch it and in so doing, they were very likely to be falling backwards or diving. I'm not sure what Casilla could have done better, save for some crazy play where he stops ten feet closer and acts like he's making a routine catch, only to let the ball fly in behind him. Basically an all or nothing deke play.
The key question is how many runners would have scored on that play. I think the number is fairly high. It was nearly a perfectly placed ball. My guess is about a third of the Royals position players, maybe even close to half, would have scored on that play (even assuming a more accurate throw). If we freeze the play from the moment Casilla catches the ball I think that Getz, Escobar and Maier would have certainly all scored no matter what. Cabrera, Francoeur and Aviles are solid bets. Gordon is a close play. A SS falling backwards is just not in a good position to throw someone out.