Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bunting Strategy

In the top of the 7th in tonight's World Series, the Giants had runners on first and second with no one out and Aubrey Huff at the plate. All of my past baseball sensibilities say that this is a clear bunt situation. Even after finding out that Huff had not bunted all year, the classic baseball mind thinks that you have to bunt here. Hell, a fly ball or a slow grounder through the drawn in infield will score at least a run.

The Sabermetric side of me was screaming the opposite. Don't ever bunt! It is almost never beneficial for your team to give away an out.

I know most of you would probably agree with the classic baseball stance of bunting right here, but let me try to explain the Sabermetric side. After giving up the out with Huff, a batter who had been doing well, you have Pat Burrell (huge playoff slump), Edgar Renteria (hot hitting this series), and Aaron Rowand (he has been bad for 3 seasons now).

The quite likely scenario of Pat Burrell striking out occurs (Cliff Lee was on the mound and mowing down batters at this point). What should have occurred next was pitching around (not intentionally walking, but pitching carefully) Edgar Renteria. This would have taken the bat out of two of your hotter hitters in Huff and Renteria and put the onus of driving in runs on the horribly slumping Burrell and the guy you don't trust to start any other game this series in Rowand.

We all know what really happened, Renteria was pitched to and jacked a 3 run shot, but I'm saying that if the Rangers were to play that one correctly they should have been out of the inning with no damage. Bunting in that situation is incorrect because of the next hitters in your lineup. I would much rather have three chances of Huff, Burrell, and Renteria trying to drive guys from first and second in then Burrell and Rowand with men on second and third.


  1. This multi-personality dialogue that Zach had with himself is strikingly similar to one that occurred in the movie we are named after.

    Billy attempts to prove to Mack that he can handle the managing job, and will strategize properly in a given situation:

    Mack: We’re playing the Yankees. No one out. Scales is on first, great speed. Lou’s up. 2-1 count. Abbott’s on the mound, lefty. Lonnie’s on deck, and remember he’s a switch hitter. What do you do?
    Billy: What’s the score?
    Mack: Tie game.
    Billy: What inning? Home or away?
    Mack: 8th. Home.
    Billy: Who’s catching? Who’s rested in the bullpen? Who’s up in the 9th for the Yankees?
    Mack: Stanley. Everyone. 7-8-9.
    Billy: Okay. I let Lou hit away. With Mattingly holding Scales, he’s got that big hole to hit through.
    Mack: No. See, that’s what I’m talking about. You got lefty against lefty. Lou’s a good bunter. You only need one run, so you sacrifice the go-ahead run to 2nd with only one out.
    Billy: No. You sacrifice him to second, they walk Lonnie and bring in Steve Farr to pitch to Spencer. So you’ve taken the bat out of two best hitters, our 3 and 4 men. And you’ve got Spencer, a righty with no speed against Farr and his palm ball. Which means…
    Mack: Double play. (a pause) You could pitch hit for Spencer.
    Billy: Now you’ve taken the bat out of our 3, 4, and 5 hitters. Not exactly a great trip through the heart of our order.
    General Manager Arthur Goslin: Any questions, Mack?
    Mack: Yeah. What’s he need me for?

  2. I think the funniest thing about this is that had the Giants followed Zach's plan of not bunting, they might not have won.

    So Zach, you lose.

    And don't knock them. Burrell and Rowand combined to make over $20 million in 2010. Obviously they are amazing baseball players. The Giants/Rays would never overpay someone who is secretly sh!tty.

  3. Tristan, that is exactly why I brought this up. Bunting worked in this situation, but for completely opposite reasons of why you bunt. By bunting, the Giants were playing for 1 maybe 2 runs. They were trying to provide a sac fly and drive the one run in.

    Because of the ineptitude of the manager and his willingness to play horseshit for players (Burrell and Rowand) it should have never worked. However, baseball is a tricky game and old man Edgar Renteria hits a homerun.

  4. Did you watch and transcribe that entire Little Big League scene just to make that comment?

  5. He had to have, there is no way he can recite that by memory.

    There is also a 5% chance that he lucked out and that conversation was in the IMDB quotes section.