Cubs safe on dropped fly balls, Part 2

Second of 2 posts about Cubs who reached base on dropped fly balls


Since Opening Day of 1914, first season for which has searchable play-level data, the Cubs have benefited from 592 botched catches in the outfield.

That is 53 more than the 539 drops by the Cubs, a difference of 9.8 percent.

Opposing fielders have dropped an average of 5.4 balls per season, to the Cubs' 4.9.

Since 1990, the Cubs have made 58 errors on flies, 2.4 per season, while opponents have made a whopping 100, an average of 4.2.

The 100th over the past 34 years came on June 29, at home against the Phillies, on a ball to center field hit by Jared Young in the sixth inning, with 2 out, nobody on base and the Cubs behind, 3-1.

He was stranded, and neither team scored again.

Mike Tauchman had led off the previous inning with a fly dropped by the left fielder.



That was just the 15th game in which 2 Cubs reached base on muffed flies.

The previous game had been April 12, 2003, at home against the Pirates.

That had been the first in exactly a quarter century, since April 12, 1978, at New York against the Mets.

The 2 before that had come on nearly the same dates: April 13, 1974, at home against the Expos, and April 14, 1968, at New York against the Mets.

Must be something about the weather in the outfield in April!

A pair of muffs on June 8, 1963, at home against the Dodgers, marked the first time the Cubs had been given 2 gifts in a game in 34 years, since June 6, 1929, at home against the Dodgers.

That was their 9th 2-error game in 16 seasons. They have had only 6 in the last 94.


In the first of the 15 games, on June 30, 1914, at home against the Reds, both errors came in the seventh inning, by the right fielder with the bases empty and nobody out, then by the center fielder with a runner on second and 1 out.

The lead runner scored on an out moments later, breaking a 1-1 tie, and the Cubs went on to win, 5-1.


The only other game in which an opponent made 2 drops in an inning was 15 months and 2 days later, on Oct. 2, 1915, in the fifth at Cincinnati.

Frank Schulte was safe at first when the center fielder dropped his 1-out fly. He was forced out by Heinie Zimmerman, who raced home, tying the score at 3, as the right fielder muffed a ball hit by Vic Saier.



The Cubs have scored 214 runs on balls not caught cleanly in the outfield.

A lone runner scored 175 times; 2 runners, 35 times; and 3 runners 4 times.

The 175 flies that resulted in runs are 29.6 percent of all 592 dropped balls.



The Reds have been by far the most generous opponent when it comes to errors in the outfield, with 95.

That is 20 more than the runnerup Dodgers' 75.

They are followed by the Pirates (74), Braves (68), Cardinals (60), Phillies (56) and Giants (54).

The Mets have the most drops among expansion teams, 31.



3 of the Cubs' greatest hitters share the distinction of hitting the most catchable balls to the outfield that turned into errors.

Ernie Banks, Gabby Hartnett and Billy Williams each did it 15 times.

Stan Hack is a distant second, with 10.

Woody English and Bill Nicholson did it 9 times apiece; Ray Grimes, Charlie Grimm and Ryan Sandberg, 8.



307 of the flies were dropped at Weeghman Park/Cubs Park/Wrigley Field.

285 were dropped at 37 other parks, topped by Redland/Crosley Field in Cincinnati (42), Braves Field in Boston (29), Ebbets Field in Brooklyn (26) and Forbes Field in Pittsburgh (26).

There have been no more than 15 at any other park.

The most at an existing park is 8, at Dodger Stadium, followed by 6 at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.



Here is how many errors were made in each inning, with the number made in the top and bottom of each inning in parentheses after the total:

1st: 66 (38/28)

2nd: 70 (36/34)

3rd: 53 (24/29)

4th: 80 (31/49)

5th: 74 (38/36)

6th: 63 (30/33)

7th: 64 (29/35)

8th: 74 (30/44)

9th: 36 (22/14)

10th: 4 (2/2)

11th: 2 (1/1)

12th: 6 (4/2)

Total: 592 (285/307)


More of the dropped flies have come in the fourth inning, 80, than in any other. The fewest, prior to the ninth, is 53, in the third.

In the first and second, 74 came in the top and 62 on the road.

In the third through eighth, 182 were in the top and 226 in the bottom.

From the ninth on, 29 were in the top and 19 in the bottom.

48.1 percent of the errors came in the top and 51.9 percent in the bottom.



Of the 6 errors in the 12th inning, the first 2 came 13 months apart, and the fourth and fifth, 11 months apart.

Charlie Deal hit the first 2 balls, on Aug. 2, 1919, at home against the Phillies, and on Sept. 3, 1920, at Pittsburgh.

The first happened with 2 out and nobody on base. An infield single and walk loaded the bases before pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander struck out. He gave up back-to-back doubles with 1 out in the 14th and lost, 2-1.

The second started the inning, with the score even at 2. He was bunted to third but stranded on a groundout and strikeout.

The Cubs won, 4-2, on a single, bunt, single, sacrifice fly and double in the 13th.


Each of the next 3 in the 12th also came on the road:

July 2, 1937, at Cincinnati; 5-5, nobody on, 2 out -- Frank Demaree wound up on third and scored when the next batter singled. The Reds tied the game in the bottom half on 2 singles and a sacrifice fly. The Cubs won, 8-6, in the 13th on a 1-out RBI double and sac fly.

May 15, 1962, at New York vs. Mets: 5-5, nobody on, 2 out -- Ernie Banks reached second. The next batter grounded out. The Cubs lost, 6-5, on a 2-out, bases-loaded walk in the 13th.

April 16, 1963, at Los Angeles vs. Dodgers: 1-1, nobody on, nobody out -- Billy Williams reach second, went to third on an infield hit by Ron Santo and scored what proved to be the winning run on a fly by Banks.


The only 12th-inning drop in the past 60 years, on June 19, 1996, was the first at home in nearly 77 years, and the only one at home in 104 years.

It was hit by Doug Glanville, against the Dodgers, with the score 3-3, 2 out and nobody on. The next batter walked, but a strikeout ended the inning.

After the 2 outs in the 13th, the Dodgers scored on a walk, error, intentional walk and unintentional walk. The Cubs went down in order.



214 of the errors on catches in the outfield came with the Cubs ahead (36.1 percent), 160 when the score was tied (27.0 percent) and 218 when they were behind. (36.8 percent).

Of the 214 when they were ahead, 76, more than one third, came with a lead of 1 run, 50 of 2 and 23 of 3. That adds up to 155 of all 214.

They led by 10 runs when 2 errors were made and by 11, 13 and 14 runs one each.


101 of the errors were made with the score 0-0; 20, 1-1; 17, 2-2; 12, 3-3; 6, 4-4; 3, 5-5; and 1, 7-7.

The highest-scoring tie was at home against the Dodgers, on Sept. 12, 2006, with nobody on and nobody out in the eighth inning. Ryan Theriot made it to third base and scored on a fly by Derrek Lee.

The Dodgers mustered a tying run in the ninth. The Cubs won, 9-8, on a 2-out RBI single by Cesar Izturis in the 11th.


The Cubs were behind by 1 run when 74 flies were dropped, more than one third of the 218 when behind. That makes a total of 251 with a difference of a single run or the score tied, 42.4 percent of all 592 drops.

55 of the errors happened with the Cubs down by 2 runs and 28 when down by 3.

They trailed once by 10 runs when a fly was dropped.



Here is how many of the errors have come with 0, 1 and 2 outs, when the Cubs were ahead, tied and behind:

Ahead: 64, 69, 81 = 214

Tied: 55, 62, 43 = 160

Behind: 74, 72, 72 = 218

Total: 193, 203, 196 = 592


Here are all the combinations of runners, with how many of the errors came with 0, 1 and 2 outs in parentheses after the total for each combination:

---: 308 (135, 91, 82)

1--: 108 (31, 35, 42)

12-: 32 (4, 11, 17)

1-3: 35 (7, 13, 15)

123: 16 (4, 6, 6)

-2-: 53 (9, 21, 23)

-23: 15 (1, 12, 2)

--3: 25 (2, 14, 9)

Total: 592 (203, 196, 193)

Note that the 3 most common combinations with anyone on base are the 3 with only a runner on first.

The next 2 most common are with only a runner on second and 1, then 2 out.

11 combinations with anyone on base have happened at least 10 times.

Cubs fielders have dropped flies 10 or more times in only 8 of the combinations.

They have dropped just 7 and 9 with 1-3 and 1 and 2 out, and only 6 with -23 and 1 out.


Here are the number of drops by the Cubs, then by their opponents, for each combination, with the difference in parentheses after each set of numbers:

---: 304, 308 (-4)

1--: 87, 108 (-21)

12-: 41, 35 (+6)

1-3: 21, 35 (-14)

123: 14, 16 (-2)

-2-: 38, 53 (-15)

-23: 12, 15 (-3)

--3: 22, 25 (-3)

Total: 539, 592 (-53)



Right fielders have dropped 205 balls hit by Cubs batters; left fielders, 204; and center fielders, 165.

The numbers for Cubs outfielders are center fielders, 182; left fielders, 170; and right fielders, 157.

The numbers for opposing outfielders add up to 574.

The 18 remaining errors were made by infielders on balls hit to the outfield: shortstops, 7; second basemen, 5; first basemen, 4; and third basemen, 2.

The last by a shortstop was in 1988; by a second baseman, 1949; by a first baseman, 1987; and by a third baseman, 1960.

FanPosts are written by readers of Bleed Cubbie Blue, and as such do not reflect the views of SB Nation or Vox Media, nor is the content endorsed by SB Nation, Vox Media or Al Yellon, managing editor of Bleed Cubbie Blue or reviewed prior to posting.