|Alex Rios' juggling act in center|
And let the argument begin.
My take on that play and that ruling:
1) I expect a major league center fielder to make that catch. Perhaps I've been spoiled by watching Kirby Puckett, Torii Hunter and Carlos Gomez patrolling center field for the Twins, perhaps my standards are too high, but I expect it to be caught.
2) There's not an official scorer who'd rule that play an error (perhaps if it's late in a no-hitter, then they might, but they'd feel cheap and guilty about it).
The two thoughts are compatible in this way: Imagine that the White Sox had in center field a player who isn't a bona fide center fielder. Carlos Quentin, let us say. He might give good effort, but he's not going to lay a glove on that ball. And the scoring ruling would be a double. (Or triple.) Rios is fast enough to lay a glove on it; should he really be penalized for being a better outfielder than Quentin?
I don't know what the advanced metrics say about Rios as a center fielder. I have to say that I'm not impressed. He overran a single earlier Tuesday to allow a run to score. Back in July, his bizarre throw to nowhere handed the Twins one of the signature games of the 2010 season. It's possible that he's a good center fielder who just happens to have made his worst plays when facing the Twins. I think it's more likely that he ought not be a center fielder, just as I'm increasingly convinced Span isn't living up to the the Puckett-Hunter-Gomez standard.
It doesn't have to be an error to be a bad defensive play. Rios had a couple of bad plays; Span had one.