If you watched the Yankees – Marlins game last night and you’re still a fan of sacrifice bunting, I can’t help you.
If you’ve read my stuff previously then you know we’ve been down this road before, so I promise to make this quick:
Marlins’ batting, top of the 10th inning, top of the order due up with (placed runner) Monte Harrison at 2nd base. Leadoff hitter Jon Berti – he of the .388 OBP – starts things off. Miami manager Don Mattingly, who has a long history of being excellent at handling roster and clubhouse shit shows, and an equally long history of being lost when it comes to Xs and Os strategy, has Berti bunt.
Berti gets the bunt down “successfully”, moving Harrison to 3rd base. Miami’s strategy of willfully lowering their run expectancy works: With one successful bunt, it went from 1.15 (runner on 2nd, no out) to .95 (runner on 3rd, 1 out).
Friendly reminder, for the “but, but, 1 run!” crowd: Playing for one run as the road team is bat shit crazy. It’s like kicking a FG in the NFL – you’re aware the other team can score a TD, right…? Right…?!? And while I’m in the reminding mood, in the 2nd inning, Miami had 1st and 2nd with no outs and bunted an inning away without scoring. Had they gone about it differently, they might be in the clubhouse with a W already instead of in the 10th inning of a tie game.
Following the “successful” bunt, Starling Marte hit a routine ground ball which the Yankees turned into a run down that would result in an out 95% of the time. However, Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka, from a distance of about 10 feet, hit Harrison in the back with his throw. A sacrifice fly later, and Miami had a one run lead.
Hey, pro-bunt, “But it worked!” crowd – it didn’t work – the other team screwed up. If your plan is hoping the opposing catcher can’t execute a short toss, your plan sucks.
Yankees batting, bottom of the 10th, down 4-3. Gio Urshela placed on 2nd base, Gleyber Torres batting. Torres walks, bringing Higashioka to the plate. (Cue YES Network’s Michael Kay and Paul O’Neill to start a discussion on bunting as if it’s 1920, not 2020). With runners on 1st and 2nd and no one out, the Yanks’ run expectancy was 1.53. They chose to go the bunt route and make it 2nd and 3rd with one out and drop their run expectancy to 1.36. (Um, yeah, about that math…)
But wait, it gets better: Higgy, having a rough inning, bunted in the air for a pop-out, dropping the Yanks’ run expectancy to .979. [Checks math…] Yes, that’s more than a half of a run lower than if they did not bunt.
To recap, the Yankees were given a runner on 2nd, drew two walks, stole two bases – and still didn’t score.
Well played. [Rubs temples…]
You only get three outs, gentlemen, do not give them away.
And while I’m ranting about dumb things…
Chad Green entered the game with a runner on 2nd and no outs. Here’s his line – 0 BB, 0 hits allowed, 0 hard hit balls allowed, and he got 4 outs. He also got the “L”. Explain to me again how wRC+ and xFIP are dumb stats, “Durrr, these nerds and their made up stats!” crowd…
I’ll say it louder for the kids in the back: By the power of Phil Rizzuto’s schnozz, I command you – stop bunting.
Did I miss something? Let me know…
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