The Bunt Part Deux
Monday night the Rangers got a leadoff single by Mitch Moreland in the bottom of the ninth off of Athletics reliever Tyson Ross. After Craig Gentry pinch ran for Moreland, Ian Kinsler promptly singled to left to get runners to first and second with nobody out. Elvis Andrus stepped up to the plate and the entire Ranger fan base could feel the game tilt immediately in the Rangers favor. Not because Elvis was going to drive in the winning run, but because of the thunder and lightning combination behind him in Hamilton and Beltre. Had this game been in the bottom of the third inning, Ron Washington lets Elvis swing away hoping for the big inning. But, this game and situation called for one run and one run only. As a manger, you must then play the percentages of what puts your team in the best possible position to win the game. Here is my guess at what flashed through Ron Washington’s head during the brief moment as Elvis walked up to the plate:
Option 2: Let Elvis sac bunt and get the runners to second and third and hope that Beltre can win it after they would obviously walk the bases loaded.
We all know that he chose option two and it worked out with an Adrian Beltre single up the middle to win the ballgame that pushed the Oakland Athletics one step further away in the race for the AL West. But, why is this the right decision in this moment?
If you let Elvis swing, the percentages are in your favor of scoring a run (see Lincoln’s excellent bunt chart) compared to him giving up an out and laying down the bunt.
The numbers and percentages may say that bunting is not the smartest or best move with runners at first and second with nobody out, but the game sometimes dictates decisions more than the numbers.