I think I get the reputation as some sabermetrics guru. Hardly. Especially compared to some of the fine writers and thinkers at the sites who actually get paid to regularly contribute exceptional content to places like Fangraphs, Baseball Prospectus and so many other sites I frequent.
Often I take my cues from those types of baseball analysts.
But I’ve kept my soul. Actually I’ve kept my gut and instincts, even though I ceased playing competitive baseball before I was 20. Until then, ball every day, and after, it may sound foolish, but playing video games – at least in my generation and beyond – helped anyone who played them hone their skills and understanding of whatever game they were playing. Remember, your Xbox or PS-whatever has no instinct, just a cybernetic mind. There probably hasn’t been a day in my life since I hit double digit years that I haven’t had a baseball conversation with someone else, or even just challenging my own beliefs in a critical way.
With all the OPS+, WAR, wRC+ and so much more that I toss out to support a good portion of my arguments, I never turned into this…
I like to think I’m a lot of both, instinct and objective data. The key is, knowing when and how to apply each. COMMANDMENT #1 OF MINE. DON’T BUNT NON-BUNTERS. ALMOST EVER.
In baseball, I also think there’s a deity like power that brings balance to the baseball universe. For instance, like if a player steals second, but on replay (not allowed till ’14) is pretty clearly out. Somehow, the Gods interact with the game and make up that call, as long as that team in need isn’t moronically causing its own problems.
That play last night was Quintin Berry pinch running for David Ortiz and ‘stealing’ second base. You could say the presence from beyond that tilted things back into balance was that the Red Sox failed to score in that inning anyway.
Let’s go to the top of the 9th in last night’s Rays/Red Sox Game 3. I’ll let Craig Calcaterra from Hardballtalk set the scene.
In the top of the ninth, with the Red Sox down by one and runners on first and second, Shane Victorino decided to bunt against a wild Fernando Rodney even after Will Middlebrooks walked on five pitches and Jacoby Ellsbury singled on a 2-0 pitch. He continued to bunt even after the first pitch was called a ball. Victorino hit .315/.395/.560 after a 1-0 count this year. Still, he gave himself up. With a big inning potentially there for the taking, the Red Sox scored one run to tie it back up.
My apologies but there’s some stats that will follow shortly.
Runners on first and second. The Red Sox need a run, or runs…I’m sure they’d like as many as they can get. Victorino’s familiar with the bunt, having laid down 48 sacrifices in his career, and I’m sure a fair enough share of bunt hits, utilizing what used to be blazing speed. He’s also grounded into just 5 double plays all year, in 532 plate appearances. While you can hear that stats aren’t predictive!, it was unlikely Victorino was going to hit into some inning killing double play. Unlikely. Not impossible. I won’t list them but a TON could have happened if Victorino didn’t bunt. Some good, some bad.
Joe Posnanski, probably my favorite baseball writer, though he more deserves to be labeled a story teller, offered these numbers regarding the situation.
Expected runs w/runners on 1st and 2nd, nobody out: 1.4 runs. Runs Red Sox scored in inning: 1. People, the bunt did not "work."
— Joe Posnanski (@JPosnanski) October 8, 2013
Locutus of Borg says SWING AWAY SHANE.
I mean, reallllllllly, what are the chances of a routine 5-4-3 (or pick a combo) DP, still leaving a runner on third…which, oh, might have been finished off by a Pedroia ground out to short (which followed and scored the 4th run). Womp, womp, womp.
Though that may not HAVE happened EITHER because of how the situation had been shifted into a new universe with two outs instead of one.
If you want your head to explode, I actually believe what’s called the Many-worlds theory of quantum mechanics exists. WHAT THE FCUK ERIC!?! From the Wiki link, In lay terms, the hypothesis states there is a very large–perhaps infinite–number of universes, and everything that could possibly have happened in our past, but did not, has occurred in the past of some other universe or universes. In some universe Victorino tripled in both runs, and I’m wearing a Tigers hat today, not a Rays.
*Even with a bunt, Rodney could have hurled one into the people finishing beers in seats along the right field line. Remember te 6th inning from Tigers/Phillies on July 28th?! NOTHING IS A GIVEN*
There was no way Victorino could have ruined that inning, right? The chances are…
…probably similar to a guy who hit 1 left handed home run all year (in 106 PAs), against a pitcher who yielded just 1 home run and a puny .340 OPS (in 136 PAs) to left handed batters all season.
Jose Lobaton conquered Koji Uehara.
Sometimes, you need to leave the numbers in the vacuum, or I’m going to hit you with quantum mechanics!