Last week Sam Mellinger of the Star did a piece seen here on George Brett and how he was impressed with the hustle of Diamondback's Jean Segura. The gist of his delight was that right out of the batters box Segura hustled and never slowed down, turning a routine single into a double. George went on to reminisce about how he would get 5 extra doubles a year simply by, as he said "running as hard as I could around the bases". He also related a story about how in a World Series game in 1980 in which the Royals led by three runs, Hal McRae who was 35 at the time hustled and turned a single into a double.
Maybe it didn't effect you this way, but Brett's comments about him and Hal immediately took me to Game 7 of 2014 and Alex Gordon's single that turned into a triple. I realize that play has been analyzed ad nauseam including mlb.com statcast here which I think covers the play the best. It has a good high vantage shot of him running out of the batters box and clearly not running full speed until after he rounds first base, it also shows how early he slows coming into third. Brett's comments made me wonder if Gordon had not taken anything for granted and been running out of the box like it was two outs in the 9th inning of Game 7 of the World Series does it make a difference? If he is just a second faster rounding the bases how many more feet ahead is he when he gets to 3rd base?
The consensus the last year and a half has been he would have been out by a mile as Crawford had the ball in short left field at the time Gordon pulled into third. Although this is true did it really have to be that way? From the very moment the play ended it seemed like he should have been able to do more with all of that time than what he did. But until recently I never researched it myself but now that I have I think not only could he have made it home safely, but perhaps done so easily.
Gordon ran a triple which he slid into third the year before in 11.03 seconds, the single/triple in Game 7 took 12 seconds for three reasons: because he didn't start full speed out of the gate, and while running between second and third he kept looking to the outfield, and finally he had to slow down the last 20 feet or so to pull in standing up. After all of that Brandon Crawford had the ball in hand and 12 seconds had elapsed. With that 12 second number in hand and based on his triple time the previous year of 11.03 seconds conceivably had Gordon shown a little more hustle he could have been not only at 3rd base but past it by a full second by the time Crawford gets the ball, likely 15 to 20 feet or so past, requiring at that point a perfect throw from a fielder who was visibly nervous and flustered by what is unfolding before him.
Gordon's place as one of the all-time Royals is firmly embedded and it is in no small part due to the last two post-seasons of both his offensive and defensive exploits. He has earned the adulation, his new contract and of course the opportunity to be with his teammates opening day to get his new hardware. However, Brett's point was that you take nothing for granted and always play as hard as you can on every play. The Royals have the mantra of "you put the ball in play and see what happens". But maybe if it was slightly tweaked to "you put the ball in play and run as fast as you can" the Royals would be starting the 2016 season as back-to-back world champions. That sounds even better.