Travis d’Arnaud: Baserunning Threat?

Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of Terry Collins, but I try to give him the benefit of the doubt. I even thought he deserved manager of the year in 2016 for somehow making it to the wild card game despite facing every adversity known to his perpetually endangered species. He’s clearly a great clubhouse manager, but just as clearly not the game’s leading strategist.

And that makes his using Travis d’Arnaud as a pinch runner yesterday truly interesting to me.

As we all know ,this goes against the grain since you then run the risk of your only catcher being injured and then the manager is forced to do something nutty like ask Wilmer Flores to don the tools of ignorance.  On the other hand, the number of times this has happened in baseball history is statistically insignificant (in part due to the fact that most managers never burn the backup catcher).  Has Terry Collins even done it before?

Regardless, if you’re thinking you’re going to burn Travis, why not use him as a pinch hitter? I suppose the Braves could then counter with a right handed reliever and then you lose the righty-lefty dynamic the Braves were comfortable with as long as the comparably weak hitting Rivera goes to the plate.

Using him as a pinch runner though, that just puts him at risk for a seemingly negligible gain, as neither he nor Rivera is particularly speedy and neither is a stolen base threat (other than Jose Reyes no one on the team is). Maybe Travis is a much better base runner than Rivera. I can’t recall any long dissertations on this from Keith Hernandez though.

What I do know is that Terry Collins took a huge but somewhat statistically insignificant risk for what would seem to be at best a negligible gain. This risk seems out of character to me as it is either cunning calculus or truly awful.

And seemingly, it was moot point. The next batter up Flores, batted into a fielder’s choice, forcing d’Arnaud at second.

Or was it? His takeout slide of the shortstop ended any chance of a double play.