Baseball player breaks computer stat systems by running back and forth

Anyone who’s seen Moneyball, or has a passion for baseball, will know that it’s a sport swamped in statistics. Those statistics are used by the various teams in Major League Baseball to figure out exactly how efficient an individual player is, and how well he will fit in with the rest of the squad. Baseball commentators, on the other hand, tend to use them to make baseball broadcasts sound like a game of decimal point bingo.

In a recent game between Chicago and Milwaukee, a player did what he could to upset both the statistics and the commentators. And all it took was a bit of running back and forth.

Here’s the short version of what happened: Shortstop Jean Segura from Milwaukeee Brewers managed to steal second base. On the next play, he tried to get to third, but didn’t make it and tried to get back to second, only to find it blocked by a teammate. So what to do? Well, Segura decided to pull a Ludo move and knocked himself back to first base. Which turned out to be perfectly legal, even though no-one, including Segura, seemed to know this at the time.

Now, if you’re European, and think baseball is like a glorified version of rounders, or English and think it’s like a confusing, underdressed and all-too-fast version of cricket, it might be easiest to go to the video evidence by clicking on the image below (opens in same window) and then come right back:

Confused? I don’t blame you.

Because so were all the statistical data systems that note down everything that happens during every single game in MLB.

“All the computer software – none of it will handle that. You don’t run the bases [from] second to first. Any software that processes play-by-play won’t accept that,” longtime official scorer and SABR historian David Vincent said Saturday.

Instead the software will have Segura thrown out stealing third – even though he was finally out, when he tried to slide into second. For the second time.

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