Someone pass me that can of worms and let me open it.
Let’s discuss bunting and my take that sometimes it’s OK to lay down a sacrifice bunt.
Let’s get this out of the way: Any manager that would ask a player to make an out to advance a runner or runners has not gone mad. And just because you play for one run doesn’t make you a bad guy. That one run might be the one to win you the game. Or you might go on to score five runs. You might get none by bunting, and you might get none by swinging away and never even thinking about bunting.
Let’s also get this out of the way: I am generally not a fan of bunting. I believe that, in the American League, you should seldom bunt early in the game. But I can’t conclude, as some have, that you almost never bunt or it’s always a bad play. “Always” and “never” are two words that don’t fit any baseball strategy for me.
MLB Network’s Brian Kenny has a crusade going against bunting. I appeciate his passion and knowledge of the game, but sometimes he makes you want to scream at your television. I haven’t yet, but have come close a few times.
Some of you who are probably smarter than me can quote run expectancy charts that tell us if you give up an out to advance a runner to second, or two runners to second and third with no outs, that on average statistically you score fewer runs with that strategy.
Despite that math, there are still times I would bunt.
Sometimes when you advance runners you do score them. Sometimes that bloop plates a run. Sometimes a bunt forces the defense into a mistake. Sometimes a hitter can hit a fly ball when you advance a runner to third for him with less than two outs. Sometimes a fast runner will beat out that bunt for a hit.
The run expectancy may be less in some instances, but it’s not zero. Sometimes if you’ve been shut down for six or seven innings, you have to try something to get your offense going.
I understand you only get 27 outs, but sometimes it is OK to give one up. The expectation for most hitters is that they will make an out at least seven times out of 10, so bypassing the bunt is no sure thing.
If I were a major league manager, I would look at all the stats, charts, notes and batter versus pitcher matchups available - and maybe even look at those run expectancy charts.
Then there would be times when I go with my own feel for the game, the situation and make a move - say, like asking a player to bunt when that decision that might be at odds with someone’s charts.
You know what? I would not be a prisoner to any stats, charts or trends when managing. The game is played by humans and if you could manage just going off some stats sheet, any smart sixth-grader could run the club.
Sorry, I’m not buying any of those “Stop bunting” shirts.
Urrutia note: Orioles minor league Player of the Year Henry Urrutia left last night’s Arizona Fall League game in the fourth inning with some mild elbow tenderness. It is considered a minor issue and he should be back in the lineup very soon.
Urrutia grounded out in the second inning for the Surprise Saguaros and was replaced in left field in the top of the fourth. He is 4-for-8 with an RBI so far in three AFL games.