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A Rant on Smart Baseball Plays

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BFG.  Brett to his mama.  Like Bucky Dent, like Aaron Boone, Brett has a special middle name.

71.6%  That's the likelihood that the Yankees win a tied game at home with a runner on first in the bottom of the 9th.

70.4%  That's the likelihood that the Yanks win after a sac bunt by Brett Gardner, if you trust the statistical averages.  But there are a million reasons not to trust the averages in this case, reasons to believe that Brett hurt the Yanks chances by a much greater percentage.

The next 3 batters after Gardner were Melky Cabrera (.287/.333/.382), Ramiro Pena (.278/.333/.306), and Jose Molina (.238/.277/.339).  That's a combined OPS+ below 70.  These are the guys you're saying deserve a crack at the winning hit?  As though any pitcher in the league couldn't be confident of overpowering those 'sluggers'?

Next, an out that leaves either Cano or Gardner at first only lowers the winning percentage to 67.4%  So gritty, gutty BFG's smart baseball play barely gained a 3% advantage.  And if Gardner is on first, is there any doubt he's going for second?  If he doesn't steal the base outright, putting the defense in motion might open a hole for the slap hitters at the bottom of the lineup.

If Gardner had somehow hit into a double play- worst case scenario- the W% drops to 55.2%.  But with Cano on first- not a speedster, but not a Molina either, there's little reason to think that a 80 grade runner like Gardner would actually hit into a DP.

And the reward for swinging the bat, the real purpose of this rant, is huge.  A double likely wins the game, or at least puts runners on 2nd and 3rd with none out.  A single- runners on 1st and 2nd- would be a 79.5 W%.  A more than 10% gain on the "smart" play.

If Cano was already on second, or if there were decent hitters coming up or on the bench, then it's a whole different story.  But with Arod, Nady and Posada hurt, the bench is empty.  With Cabrera-Pena-Molina coming up, there's no lumber there to justify that bunt.

Gardner faced Brian Shouse.  In the 9th inning, Shouse threw 5 pitches at 79-80 mph that Pfx called fastballs, plus a 73 mph slider to Cano that missed so badly that it might have hit a righty.  If Brett can't hit that guy, he's not going to hit in the bigs.

I hate sac bunts.  I hate "productive" outs.  I hate losing- damn it, I hate losing.