Pet Peeves

Decent article here about Terry Francona. One point of contention (and it’s about an historical pet peeve of mine, the non-bunt) though. Francona didn’t bunt over men on first and second with none out against the Jays this weekend, in extra innings, in a tie game. He justifies it by saying that Jason Varitek, who was up and hitting lefty, would be as likely to end the game as the men following, who were righties about to face a pitcher more effective against righties. He argues that they were as likely to win with everyone swinging away as they would with Varitek bunting and the guys to follow swinging away. I don’t have the stats, but my gut tells me Francona is wrong. See, if Varitek gets the men over, then the righties don’t even have to succeed (in the traditional sense of the word, with a hit) against said effective pitcher – they only have to fail a certain way (fly out, ground ball to the right spot, etc.). Additionally, the pitcher may choose to intentionally walk one of the players to put the double play in effect, setting up a no-margin-for-error situation with a walk or a wild pitch or a passed ball. I think with an out and men on 2/3, there are a lot more ways to win than with them standing on 1/2. Francona didn’t bunt, they stranded the men and won later, and his non-move was rendered irrelevant. In any case, I think Francona is wrong on this one, conceptually. I would love to find out if he has the numbers to back up his claim – they would be enlightening.

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