Out of Left Field (Series version)

Out of left field is a once in a while post that covers matters that don’t necessarily require one thousand words of analyzation, but that I’d like to address anyway.  In no particular order of importance…

Man, once Joe Buck and John Smoltz set on a course of talking points, they will not deviate regardless of what is going on in the game.  They have locked on to this narrative that both Houston and Washington are great because they make contact and don’t strike out like a Rottweiler would lock on to a pork chop.

Meanwhile, 8 home runs (EIGHT) have been hit in two games against mostly elite-level pitching.

Again:  Both Houston and Washington are great teams because they get on base at a high rate and they hit with power – that’s it.  It’s not more complicated than that and we have over one hundred years of data to tell us it’s never been more complicated than that.  Their strikeout rate is an unrelated side note.

Saying these teams are good because they don’t strike out often is like pointing to a red Ferrari and thinking that it can drive fast because it’s redOne has nothing to do with the other.

Houston led all of MLB in both OBP and SLG in 2019.  Washington was 2nd  to Houston in MLB in OBP and 3nd in SLG behind LAD (…and…coughs…Colorado…coughs…) in the NL.

Regardless of how baseball “experts” would like to shape the narrative, it will never be more complicated than that: Get on base at a high rate and hit with power and you’ll score many runs.  Everything else is a paint job.

If your number two batter in the order is always bunting, he shouldn’t be batting 2nd in the order.

Reminder:  With a runner on first and no out, the average run expectancy is .93.  With a successful* bunt that gets the runner to second base with one out, the run expectancy drops to .71.

With a runner on second and no out, the average run expectancy is 1.15.  With a successful* bunt that advances the runner to third base with one out, the run expectancy drops to .95.

Basically, you’re reducing your run production by about 20% by bunting in those situations.  And that’s for “successful” bunts.  About 40% of the time, the bunt attempt will fail, reducing the run expectancy even further.

If your pitcher is batting against a good pitcher, bunt.  But your number two batter should be maximizing run production, not lowering it by giving away outs.  I can’t believe we’re still having this discussion in 2019.

Someone told me a long time ago, that if you want to root for a team that doesn’t have any criminals or scumbags on it then you won’t be watching sports.  I get that, but it’s really hard to not root against the Astros in light of recent events.  Brandon Taubman, Jeff Luhnow, and Jim Crane have behaved reprehensibly and it’s an embarrassment to MLB.  And even more disconcerting, based on Rob Manfred’s history, absolutely nothing will be done about it.

Updated tally: Teams who out homer their opponents now have 22 wins and 6 losses this postseason.

Anyone who watches baseball is not surprised in the slightest about Juan Soto – dude has been a monster for two seasons.  But the fact he’s doing it on prime time national television is great for baseball.

It must be noted:  Jose Altuve is not a good baserunner or a good fielder.  If you think he’s either you aren’t paying attention.

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