Following Sunday night's World Baseball Classic game between Mexico and Venezuela, which Mexico won, 11-9, World Baseball Classic, Inc. (WBCI) issued a "final and binding determination" on the Pool D tiebreaker ruling that resulted in Venezuela playing Italy on Monday night to determine which team will join Puerto Rico in
Following Sunday night's World Baseball Classic game between Mexico and Venezuela, which Mexico won, 11-9, World Baseball Classic, Inc. (WBCI) issued a "final and binding determination" on the Pool D tiebreaker ruling that resulted in Venezuela playing Italy on Monday night to determine which team will join Puerto Rico in Round 2. Mexico was eliminated from the tournament.
According to the worldwide event's tiebreaker rules, when three teams finish with a 1-2 record in pool play, the two teams with the fewest runs allowed per defensive inning (including partial innings) -- in games that exclusively involve the tied teams versus one another -- play a tiebreaker to determine which advances to Round 2, and the third team is eliminated. The World Baseball Classic Technical Committee assigned to Pool D applied the tiebreaker criteria and reached the determination that Venezuela and Italy would play to break the tie.
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
Based on the WBC Technical Committee's calculation of runs allowed per defensive inning, Italy's average was 1.05, Venezuela's was 1.11 and Mexico's was 1.12. The calculation of Mexico's figure includes the five runs Team Italy scored without any outs recorded in the ninth inning on Thursday night. Italy had rallied to win that game, 10-9, in walk-off fashion.
The Federacion Mexicana de Beisbol lodged a formal objection following the game, arguing that the ninth inning should count as a "partial inning," according to the rules. Team Mexico's general manager, Kundy Gutierrez, told reporters that a discussion was taking place involving MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre and senior vice president of baseball operations Kim Ng about the ruling. The ruling was later confirmed.
MLB.com obtained a copy of WBCI's explanation of the rule in response to Team Mexico's objection. The explanation said, in part, "The only recognized way to quantify a 'partial inning' under the rules of baseball is by recognizing one-third of an inning for each out recorded by the defense. This is exemplified in the calculation of standard rate-based pitching statistics such as ERA, WHIP, and K/9, BB/9, to name a few. These statistics credit pitchers with partial innings -- at the rate of one-third of an inning per out recorded by the pitcher's defense -- and the wording of the rule here suggests that its authors were attempting to import this same concept for purposes of the tiebreaking formula. To apply any other interpretation would be illogical and could lead to inconsistent results."
The WBCI statement highlighted an example in which this rule was applied during the 2006 Classic, involving a three-team tie in the standings between Mexico, Japan and the United States. In that instance, each team had a 1-2 record after the second round of pool play. Japan had taken a 4-3 walk-off loss to the U.S. after recording two outs in the ninth inning. Japan was credited with two-thirds of a defensive inning in the tiebreaker calculation, advancing to the next round over Mexico and the U.S.
In closing, the WBCI acknowledged Team Mexico's disappointment, as well as the disappointment of its fans, and stated its appreciation of "the participation of Team Mexico in the Tournament and the opportunity to stage a round of the Tournament in Mexico in front of thousands of Mexican baseball fans."
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB. Jesse Sanchez contributed reporting.