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Jacob Stallings’ streak lives on, but should it?

The Gold Glover got the benefit of the doubt, it seems.

Marlins catcher Jacob Stallings stares at a ball in his hand after allowing a wild pitch Bally Sports Florida

Jacob Stallings won the National League Gold Glove last season, at least in part due to his receiving skills. Dating back to mid-2020 and continuing through Thursday’s Marlins home opener, he has caught 138 consecutive games (1,177 23 innings) without allowing any passed balls. For context, Jorge Alfaro during his Marlins tenure—208 games and 1,666 13 innings—totaled 28 passed balls. What a refreshing change.

But watching on Thursday, I felt certain that I had witnessed the end of Stallings’ streak. After going nearly 20,000 pitches without a passed ball, he couldn’t secure an Anthony Bass slider in the top of the seventh inning. It allowed Bryce Harper to move up a base.

Here are a couple different angles:

Strangely, the official scorer ruled it a wild pitch. They put the blame on the pitcher instead of the catcher, even though the pitch arrived two-and-a-feet off the ground and caught part of the plate.

The footage strongly suggests that this was a “cross-up” between Bass and Stallings. You can see Stallings set up behind Nick Castellanos as if he’s receiving a pitch on the inside corner. That’s suspicious: Bass rarely ever throws his slider inside to right-handed batters.

The visual below (courtesy of Baseball Savant) shows where he located his sliders vs. righties last season:

Location of Anthony Bass’ sliders in 2021
Location of Anthony Bass’ sliders in 2021
Baseball Savant

Stallings must have been preparing for a sinker in that situation. When Bass’ pitch missed its spot and moved in an unexpected way, the veteran backstop was unable to adjust in time.

Nonetheless, the “mistake” got its desired result on Castellanos (a swinging strike). Bass ultimately induced a flyout to end the inning, stranding Harper—the potential tying run—and preserving the lead in a much-needed Marlins win.

The misunderstanding was likely Bass’ fault and not Stallings’, but since when does that impact scoring decisions? With the pitch crossing the plate in the strike zone and not requiring the catcher to adjust to a bounce, I’ve grown accustomed to seeing similar cases ruled a passed ball.

Weigh in below.

Poll

Should the Anthony Bass slider have been scored a wild pitch or a passed ball?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Wild pitch
    (14 votes)
  • 55%
    Passed ball
    (44 votes)
  • 27%
    Could’ve gone either way
    (22 votes)
80 votes total Vote Now