BUNTING AND SIT-UPS

Many managers ‘go with their gut’, which is interesting because, well, have you seen some of their guts?

I’d advise going with information–especially when it’s more available than it’s ever been.

Old school is a prideful term, but doesn’t it imply that you think you’re done being schooled?

When Matt Carpenter bunted with Kolten Wong on 1st and no one out, he decreased his teams chances at scoring a run.

On purpose.

The chart below, from Tom Tango’s The Book, shows that with a runner on 1B and 0 out, STL can expect to score 0.859 runs that inning.

Average number of runs that scored, from that base/out state, to the end of that inning.

 

After a successful sacrifice bunt, with a runner on 2B and 1 out, STL can expect to score 0.664 runs.

No matter what your gut tells you, 0.859 is more than 0.664.

These numbers are accumulated over the last 6 years of every MLB game.  Never mind that bunt came with an opportunity cost of a Matt Carpenter at bat–he of the 286/374/451 career slash line coming off a 28-homer season.

But why have him swing away when you can decrease your chances at scoring a run?

Why have 3 chances to plate Wong when you could have just 2?
(From your chosen 1-2-3 batters, no less.)

Later in that same game, rookie Jeremy Hazelbaker led off the 9th with a double against accomplished reliever Mark Melancon.  It was like being dealt a blackjack hand of 17, as the Cardinals’ run expectancy is now at 1.100.

Matheny hit on 17–by not hitting.

Wong’s attempt to bunt Hazelbaker to 3B, was an attempt to reduce the run expectancy from 1.100 to 0.950.

I suppose the temptation was to move Hazelbaker from scoring position into ‘more scoring position’.

Two things:

1) First base is also “scoring position”. I’ve seen people score from there.   Jedd Gyorko and Hazelbaker have even scored runs this year from home plate.  You get at least 27 chances to score those runs.  Well, the smart teams get 27.

2) There are multiple ways to advance runners on the base paths, some of which don’t require giving up an out.  Ground balls, sac flies, errors, wild pitches, or even walks, singles, doubles, triples, and homers.

No, the announcer’s won’t credit you for “manufacturing a run” if one is scored sans bunt.

But that’s no excuse for manufacturing outs.

 

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