Ok, ignoring the rather awkward nature of Lopez's at-bat (what on earth was he doing taking the second strike and then bunting on the next pitch??), I couldn't understand why the Reds were bunting in this situation. I know this is the classic "small-ball" type of offense, but when you've got a (very fast) runner on second you already have a man in scoring position. Yeah, it's nicer to have him on third, but giving up an out to get him there always seemed like too big a cost to pay for setting up the possibility of a sacrifice fly or run-scoring infield ground ball.
Hoping to write a scathing article proving my point, I pulled up the run expectancy matrix at TangoTiger's website. This matrix was compiled using data from the 1999-2002 seasons and provides the average number of runs teams scored in an inning given each possible combination of baserunners and outs. I compared data on two situations:
- With a runner on second and nobody out, teams scored an average of 1.189 runs.
- With a runner on third and one out, the situation we had after Lopez sacrificed Freel over, teams scored an average of 0.983 runs. That's a 17% drop in how many runs you score.
- With a runner on second and nobody out, teams scored zero runs 36.8% of the time, one run 34.8% of the time, and two or more runs 28.3% of the time.
- With a runner on third and one out, teams scored zero runs 33.8% of the time, one run 47.8% of the time, and two or more runs 18.3% of the time.
So I learned something. Apologies to Narron (or was it Dent at that point--I think Jerry had already been tossed from the game) for all those nasty thoughts I was sending his way through the TV.
P.S. The Latin Love Machine has returned!