Wednesday, September 10th — Big Papi in the 12th

September 10, 2008

Today I Learned…

…that sometimes, I don’t have any idea what goes on inside the head of a major league manager.

Bottom of the 12th, tied at 1, no outs.  Dustin Pedroia at first after being hit by a pitch.  David Ortiz comes up to face Tampa Bay’s JP Howell, whose Rays are leading Boston 1.5 games in the AL East.

Big Papi, the greatest clutch hitter in baseball right now and in Red Sox HISTORY…

…lays down a sacrifice bunt.

Keep in mind, this is a franchise which has been run on the principles of quantitative analysis and “Moneyball,” and which even features one of the book’s key prospects (Kevin Youkilis).  The only game situation in which a sacrifice bunt *positively increases your team’s chances of scoring that inning* is with runners on first and second with no outs.  In any other situation a well-executed sacrifice bunt decreases the number of runs a team can be expected to score in that inning on average.

Of course, the same QA principles state that there’s no such thing as “clutch” and David Ortiz’s reputation is merely statistical noise, but my point is YOU LET HIM SWING AWAY!  YOU DON’T BUNT!


Epilogue: Dustin Pedroia never moved from second base and the game continued.


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