To bunt or not to bunt

It was the top of the second inning of the United States-Canada game Sunday in the World Baseball Classic. Adam Jones came up with runners on first and second and none out, with the USA and Canada in a 0-0 tie. He dropped a sac bunt advancing both runners.

Jones did not have one sac bunt last season and has just six in his 786-game major league career.

This bunt was the one heard round the Twitter world. Within seconds, reaction was swift and many could not believe Jones dropped a bunt.

Jon Morosi of wrote:

Team USA gave an out to a Double-A prospect who was in a jam. Ended up being a confidence booster. Still scoreless.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports wrote:

Not sure what’s worse: Adam Jones bunting in the second inning of a 0-0 game or Shane Victorino swinging at the first pitch. Bad baseball.

Jay Jaffe of wrote:

Shocked, SHOCKED an inning with a no-out bunt led to ZERO runs.

I wrote this:

Good grief. Adam Jones’ bunt is getting trashed by many. Can see both sides, but a little over the top react. Advancing runners is not bad.

I don’t think what Jones did was a bad play. Because it didn’t lead to any runs doesn’t make it a bad play either, just as a single by the next batter would not make the writers I just quoted all wrong. Or see them change their opinions.

We are just expressing opinions here and there is no right or wrong, although by some of the responses, I saw on Twitter you would think there were.

I am generally not a big fan of the bunt, but I don’t agree with the crowd that says you never give up an out. Jones is a career .278 hitter so the math crowd should realize that the stat sheet says he only gets a hit 27.8 percent of the time anyway. I find that teams that advance runners often score them and win close games.

As the next inning proved, sometimes a bunt leads to a hit or forces the defense into a throwing error and leads to runs. Sometimes it simply leads to advancing runners which the next hitter or a hitter after that scores.

Canada pitcher Jameson Taillon is “just a Double-A pitcher” but he is also one of baseball’s top young pitching prospects who looked good early in that game, and the fact is the USA hadn’t scored much in the first two games minus one big David Wright swing. Maybe by playing small ball they could jump start their offense.

In the regular season, there is almost no way Jones would bunt in the second inning of a 0-0 game. But he bats third or fourth for the Orioles and this was not the regular season. It was a win-or-go-home game. Advancing two runners there to try and get an early lead and some momentum was not a bad play at all. This time it didn’t work because that kid pitcher got the job done.

Any baseball strategy that starts with “always” or “never” is probably one I can’t get on board with. Baseball is a team game and sometimes even the big boppers may be asked to give themselves up for the good of the team. I will say I can’t think of many situations where I’d want Jones to bunt for the Orioles in a similar situation.

But I’d never say never to that.

What do you think?: Was dropping a bunt there a bad play? How do you feel about the sac bunt in general to advance a runner or runners? If you generally are not a fan of the bunt, are there circumstances when it can be the right play? Feel free to expand on this entry to include your thoughts on any other strategies in the game that you agree or disagree with.

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