Cardinals news from a Sabermetric point of view

Oquendo’s boner

In reporting on Matt Carpenter‘s spring tutorial at second base, Rick Hummel relates a humorous anecdote from Carpenter’s instructor, Jose Oquendo:

Oquendo recalled a play while he was playing with the New York Mets where “I threw a ball to second base, with no one on first. I was lucky the second baseman threw to first base to get the guy out.

It’s a fun story and it shows something of Oquendo’s humility. The only problem is that we can’t find a record of it happening.

Oquendo doesn’t specify whether his boner was in a minor-league game or major, but we assumed it was on the big stage. According to the indispensable Baseball-Reference.com, Oquendo in his career was involved in three plays that went shortstop to second to first with only one out being made. However, from raw play-by-play data, it’s not clear whether he as shortstop actually relayed the ball to the second baseman or merely deflected it to him.

Date Opponent
May 7, 1983 Reds
September 16, 1983 Cubs
August 28, 1984 Dodgers
  • In the Reds game, a groundout to shortstop to first via the second baseman ended the inning. When Oquendo went to second, a runner (Dan Driessen) was on first. Furthermore, a runner was on second, too (Johnny Bench). Driessen was safe, but the relay from second put out the batter. However, earlier in the inning, Oquendo and his keystone partner, Brian Giles (no, not that Brian Giles) had turned a 6-4-3 double play to clear the bases.
  • In the Cubs game, the runner was on first, though he (Dave Owen, pinch running for the Penguin, Ron Cey) reached second safely. On the next play, with the runner on second and two outs, Oquendo threw to first to end the inning.
  • In the Dodgers game, Oquendo was no longer a rookie (it was his sophomore season) though he obviously was still learning. Again, a runner was on first base and was safe at second on the play, but the second baseman completed the relay to first in time to get the batter. Prior to the earlier player reaching first base, Oquendo had put out the leadoff man on a groundout to short.

We’re talking 20 years ago, and memories can do strange things, especially when you’ve experienced approximately 25,000 innings of major-league baseball (including 4975 as a player). So we’re left with at least three options:

  1. Oquendo made the play in the minors or in spring training.
  2. It’s a research problem (either Baseball-Reference’s data doesn’t describe the play in the way we’re expecting it, or it’s user error).
  3. Oquendo has misremembered the play (either it didn’t happen or didn’t happen to him).

Oquendo could of course be intentionally making it up. Why? One reason would be to make his pupil feel more at ease. A second would be to confound baseball historian/stat geeks. But who would be so mean?

One Response to “Oquendo’s boner”

  1. Brandon Says:

    Same thing happened in Little Big League. You gotta start Wegman.

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