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Sunday, August 30, 2009


Of course, the Braves did much of their scoring on HRs, and didn't seem to mind, and didn't even complain about the dimensions of the park for once.

There's this new way of moving runners along the basepaths that has recently been developed called "bunting."

I'm hoping that perhaps someone will inform the Phillies about it and that they will adopt this tactic sometime in the near future.

limoguy - That would require Milt Thompson to actually teach our hitters a skill, something he seems incapable of. How a "baserunning coach" got promoted to hitting coach is a mystery to me. Come October, our failure to move runners/manufacture runs/hit with RISP will be our biggest problem, not our opponent, and not our bullpen.

EastFallowfield - Yeah, funny there are no comments about "high school fields" today. I really hope we thump them hard tonight.

I was at CBP last night. Sans raingear. Good times.

Lee had to have an off game eventually. At least it happened now instead of the playoffs like Sabathia last year.

Not only have the Braves not quit, the organization is running ads to 'reserve your playoff tickets now' during the games.

I don't want to see a lot of bunting. It leads to fewer runs, statistically speaking.

Don't know why you'd want a high scoring offense to score fewer runs, even when they go into a little slump.

Where do we find the list of teams who score the highest percent of runs on HRs?

***I don't want to see a lot of bunting.***Me neither.

In other news, Carlos Carrasco gets his first start with the Indians on Sept. 1st vs. the Tigers.

EFF: It sounds like you, like me, believe in the Earl Weaver school of managing. The most valuable commodity in baseball is an out. You do not give them away.

As we approach the end of August, it may be appropriate to recite some stats for the month.

Feliz OPS: .630
Ibanez OPS: .577
Bako OPS: .841

Hamels ERA 4.91
Martinez ERA 4.50
Moyer ERA 3.98 (following 3.30 last month).

Obviously none of this is ever reflected by the vast majority of posters here. Quite the opposite in fact. But it is reality.

An out is more valuable than a run?

A sacfly RBI is preferable over one achieved via a bunt?

Thanks, limoguy. I'm afraid I'm HTML-impaired.

But with the funk we're in with runner on third, less than two outs, what's the harm in a suicide squeeze? Might just help lead to some confidence in those situations. The team has reall bad JuJu right now.

I don't want to see bunting, but, less swinging for the fences (assuming that such is actually occurring, I'm in Virginia these days and have yet to re-purchase MLB.TV) is always a good idea.

Ugh. I hate it when I agree wholeheartedly with Clout, but I love me some Earl Weaver.

"The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three run homers."

"Momentum is the next day's starting pitcher."

Here's a great read on him from an July 09 SI:


Speaking of Carlos Carrasco.

limoguy: Yes an out is more valuable than a run. There are only 27 of them. There is no limit to how many runs you can score. When you hit a Sac Fly you are trying for a hit, not an out, so you are not giving an out away. When a hitter (not a bad-hitting pitcher) bunts to move a runner, however, he is giving an out away to the opposition and yielding nearly all the chance he may have had for a hit.

Really hated to lose Carrasco. Great stuff. Wouldn't be surprised to find out that his main "problem" was that he was bored pitching in the minors.

***There is no limit to how many runs you can score.***

True but, for practical purposes, you can't reasonably expect to score more than 4 or 5 and that's all you usually need to win the game.

If I can use a few of the 27 outs I definitely get to score one or two of thse 4 - 5 runs I'm probably going to need to win the game, why shouldn't I?

I'm not saying to do it with Howard at the plate but every once in a while.

Bunting: There is a time and a place for everything. This is a lineup with possibly 4 guys hitting 30 plus homers so it might not be the time to start bunting.

Here is a true bunting story from the other team I root for the Baystars. It was the first Baystar's game I ever attended. I had heard about NPB's addiction to bunting but I had no idea. I must have sat through at least 4 attempted sacrifice bunts in the first 6 innings with the wind blowing own of tiny Yokohama stadium. Anytime some reached base there was a bunt. Shockingly it was a 1-0 game through 6, when my mind was blown. With none out the 6th hitter for the Baystars reached first, he was then bunted over by the 7th hitter. Leaving it entirely up to the 8 hitter as they had no intention of lifting (and did not lift) their starting pitcher. It was crazy and everyone expected it.

Also, regarding the suicide squeeze (and sacrifices in general): the manufacturing runs crowd seems to think these things are automatic. The success rate for a sacrifice is less than 2/3, if I'm not mistaken, and I'll bet it's less than that for suicide squeezes.

Consider a situation with a runner on 3rd and 1 out:

Suicide squeeze best case scenario: scoring one run, having 2 outs nobody on
Suicide squeeze worst case scenario: batter misses the bunt, no run scores, 2 outs nobody on

Swinging the bat best case scenario: extra base hit or home run, opening up the chance for a big inning
Swinging the bat worst case scenario: batter strikes out or pops up, leaving the runner still on 3rd and able to score on a hit

Clearly, the risk is higher and the reward is lower for a suicide squeeze than just trying to hit a fly ball or deep grounder.

People fall in love with the suicide squeeze because it looks really cool when it works, but in almost all cases, it's not a smart baseball play.

One more thing, you gotta look at who is up to bat. Sometimes it is the right play often it isn't. There aren't a ton of situations when it's the smart play, but there are a few. I guess that's why it isn't the most common play.

Here's a conundrum of an arithmetic problem:

bullpen woes (Lidge, injuries)
no bench
Hamels' inconsistency
Rollins' average
Ibanez's disappearing act
= 7 game lead

I can't find it right now, but there's a chart out there which very scientifically lays out the number of runs a team would be expected to score with runners on certain bases & a certain number of outs. The chart makes clear that the predicted number of runs scored with 0 outs and a runner on first/second is higher than the predicted number of runs scored with 1 out and a runner one base over. So the notion that you're "playing the percentages" when you bunt is actually wrong. The caveat is that, if your goal is merely to score a single run (like when the game is tied in the 9th inning), sacrificing & giving up the out does increase your odds of scoring that run. Obviously, this chart is based on ALL situations and doesn't account for the individual skill set of the particular hitter at the plate).

By the way, how do sacrifice bunts help a team like the Phillies, which is mired in a dismal hitting slump with RISP? If you bunt the guy from first to second, you still have to get a hit with RISP in order to score him.

It's not a lack of sacrifice bunts that is hurting the Phillies. It's a general lack of hitting. As I've posted before, the Phillies have the 22nd highest team average in baseball, 11th highest in the NL. Their team average with RISP is almost exactly the same as their overall average. They don't hit worse with RISP. They just don't hit particularly well in the first place. What they need are not more bunts, but a few more guys who hit for high average.

Speaking of hitting with RISP, remember how MVPTommy assured us that Raul Ibanez's high career numbers with RISP irrefutably proved his prowess as a clutch hitter and could not possibly be a fluke? Ibanez's 2009 average with RISP: .257 (.01 lower than Pat Burrell's 2009 average with RISP). Ibanez's 2009 average with RISP & 2 outs: .154 (.104 points lower than Burrell's average with RISP and 2 outs).

I stipulate that Burrell has been terrible this year & that Ibanez has been an excellent acquisition (for this year). But it's certainly not because of their relative abilities at "clutch hitting."

bap: Batting Average has little correlation with scoring runs. OBP and SLG have much higher correlation. The Phillies are much better at these categories, which is also why they happen to lead the NL in runs scored, believe it or not.

Bunting is a good option only if it's assumed that the batter has a better chance of performing a successful bunt (suicide or otherwise) than of getting an actual hit. Since bunting is such a precise art, you should bunt only with someone who's proficient at it but NOT someone who's proficient at hitting, at least matched up against a particular pitcher. Pitchers can make good bunters, for instance.

But the Phils have a buttload of outstanding hitters. I wouldn't bunt with any of them (the starters) other than maybe Ruiz/Bako and the pitcher.

(And sending someone up as a PH to bunt is sort of silly, unless you truly believe they couldn't get a hit, in which case why not just send up a pitcher who can bunt well?)

Jack: I know that, but just because they lead the league in runs scored doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. You don't think they would score more runs if they had a catcher who could hit .260 or a 3rd baseman who could hit .290 or a leadoff hitter who hit above .245 or, heaven forfend, a pinch hitter or two who could hit .265?

Having the same BA w/ RISP as you do without means you are bad w/ RISP. Averages are generally higher in that situation due to things like flyouts not counting against your average if you drive in a run.


2009 Average Team BA:

NL - .260; AL -- .266; MLB -- .263

2009 Average Team BA with RISP:

NL -- .260; AL -- .267; MLB -- .263

2009 Average Team BA with RISP & 2 outs:

NL -- .238; AL -- .248; MLB -- .243

You know what this team needs to do now? They need to go out there are beat up on some good pitching. Tonight would be a good time to start. Next week, the Giants need to know it's not as easy as it seemed in San Francisco. It's almost September - time for the WFCs to start showing up on a regular basis.

bap: Yes, they'd be better off if they could improve those spots. But the improvement would mean the most if it came in the form of OBP and SLG, not BA. Pretty simple stuff, really.

Obviously I have no problem with someone hitting for higher average. It's almost always good. I just think people are focusing on minor things like BA and BA with RISP because they've been bad at them in the last couple weeks, while ignoring that they're a really good offensive team overall, and should be fine in the playoffs. People had the same worries last year, and we won the WS. Much more concerned about the back end of the bullpen.

"I stipulate that Burrell has been terrible this year & that Ibanez has been an excellent acquisition (for this year)."

Geez, ya think?

Player A = 27, 79, .278, .344, .564, .908
Player B = 12, 50, .241, .336, .405 .741

Yeah, I think based on your description I can figure out which player is A and which on is B.

Clout and others, I'm gonna let you in on a cold hard fact;

Since the beginning of baseball all the way through to the modern era, There have been oceans of more outs recorded than runs scored.

How could an out be possibly more valuable than a run?

There's a time and a place for bunting. It must be used accordingly.

the post of the year award goes to....bigmyc!!

phlipper, but burrell see more pitches per at bat so his full-count strikeouts are better than first pitch doubles and equal to 3rd pitch singles. I learned this on beerleaguer last summer.

bigmyc: Obviously, there's nearly always going to be fewer runs than outs. Because every full game is guaranteed to have at least 27 outs for the visiting team and if the home team loses, 27 for them too. Weaver's point, which was later backed up by statistical analysis, is that the way you win is by postponing those 27 outs as long as possible. And not giving them away for free. In other words, using a hitter to give up an out to move a runner is usually a bad idea.

bigmyc: That surely has to be some of the most confused logic I've ever heard. So if I bunt 27 times, I can score 27 runs? Sounds great. Why doesn't every manager bunt every time?

The expression "an out is more valuable than a run" is a shorthand way of saying that, giving the other team a free out, for a slighly increased chance of scoring a single run, is usually a bad tradeoff.

This debate reminds me of the study a few years ago which found that NFL coaches punt too often. A key point of the study was that coaches who reflexively choose to punt very often overlook all the variables of the situation -- such as the fact that punts can be blocked, shanked, or returned for long yardage, or the fact that, if you go on 4th and 3 from midfield and don't make it, there's still a reasonably good chance that your defense will prevent the other team from scoring after they take over on downs.

The same type of analysis holds true with bunts. When deciding whether to bunt, you can't just assume it's going to do what it's supposed to do because very often it doesn't. And if it doesn't do what it's supposed to do, then you have made things worse by giving up an out.

Flipper: Welcome back! Long time, no see.

Just curious, any reason why you ignored BAP's point -- which was that Ibanez has been dreadful with RISP with 2 outs, far worse than Burrell last year and even worse than Burrell this year?

Sac bunts are only the play when you need 1 run and 1 run only (other than pitchers hitting, of course, and maybe Paul Bako). Otherwise (pretty much every situation other than 9th inning, down by 1 or tied), you're making the wrong play.

Sunday afternoon talk with Clout, bap, Phlipper and myself. Good stuff. Some real BL veterans.

DH Phils, The worst case for swinging away would be a line drive to 3rd for an inning ending double-play. (think Bruntlett triple-play)

Also, you are assigning equal probability to each outcome. Laying down a bunt that will score the runner on third on a squeeze is easier than getting a hit or sac swinging away.

Bunting is a skill that a player either has or does not have. If you have a good bunter in the scenario, your chances go way up. Even if it is only 2/3, that's a .667 average. I'll take that.

One of the things that perplexes me about Cholly's managerial style is when he sac bunts with a positional player. Seems to do this more than other managers in the NL.

No problem when he does that a pitcher (especially a really poor hitting one like Happ) but it generally makes little/no sense with a positional player who is nearly useless offensively (Cairo/Cairo).

Cairo/Cairo is a scary thought...

Who's hot:

Bruntlett - .400 (that's right the Gnome is 6 for 15) and has nearly equaled his hit total from April-July (10 hits)

Been out doing yard work. I think having Howard hit away with a man on first is better than bunting. With the Gnome batting....let him bunt!

BAP said, "Ibanez's 2009 average with RISP & 2 outs: .154 (.104 points lower than Burrell's average with RISP and 2 outs).
I stipulate that Burrell has been terrible this year & that Ibanez has been an excellent acquisition (for this year). But it's certainly not because of their relative abilities at "clutch hitting."

Nobody calls this guy out on this?

2009 OPS+ w/RISP + 2 outs:

Ibanez: 96
Burrell: 67

Let it go. Burrell stinks, BAP, and you were wrong to want Rube to offer him 1 year 16m in arbitration. Enough.

I just get a sense of another blowout. Jurrjens owns the Phillies, they aren't in sync right now offensively, and the Braves currently have several hot hitters spread throughout the lineup. I hope I'm wrong.

In re: bunting
I seem to remember that there's a statistical basis which indicates that a sacrifice bunt (except for keeping a pitcher from GIDP) is almost always a mistake. I wish Sophist were around.

In re: tonight's game
In no respect is it a must win game. Nor would a win constitute kicking ATL to the curb or stepping on their necks. But it would amount to kicking them in the shins right where they already have a bad bruise. It would be very nice to win tonight. Jurrjens, of course, is tough.

Incidentally, although I love the speed game, moving runners up and stealing bases, I agree with the Weaver approach. Nothing says "I love you" like a three run homer.

mikes: I think I conceded my general wrongness in the post. Nonetheless, since those in favor of the Ibanez signing were so dismissive of the possibility that his high average with RISP could possibly be a fluke, it is more than fair to point out that his 2009 average in that situation is actually quite terrible.

A sac bunt is almost always a mistake and that is why teams almost never do it. Think how often a guy reaches first or second base and now think about how often they are bunted over. Most situations don't call for it. A pitcher up sure, when a team needs that one run to win or tie ok, even certain awful pitcher batter match ups. When was the last time you saw a mid order guy bunt? When was the last time a non pitcher bunted before the seventh? These things don't happen.

From phuturephillies:

The Phillies have placed Kyle Drabek on the inactive list after throwing 158 innings this year. It was stressed that Drabek is not injured, he is simply being shut down after reaching what the Phils set as his inning limit. The 21 year old righty was 4-1 with a 2.48 ERA for Clearwater. He threw 61.2 innings and walked 19, while striking out 74. Opponents hit just .218 against him in “A” ball. After his promotion to AA Reading, Drabek went 8-2 with a 3.64 ERA in 15 starts, throwing 96.1 innings. He walked 31, struck out 76 and AA opponents hit .252 against him. In five August starts, Drabek was 1-1 with a 5.02 ERA. I would look for him in the Lehigh Valley rotation to begin next year.

MG: For what it's worth, the Phillies seem to be pretty good at not having their position players bunt, compared to other NL teams.

NL League Leaders in sacrifices for position players:

1. Castillo, NYM 13
T-2. Fowler, COL 11
T-2. Matsui, HOU 11
T-2. Taveras, CIN 11
T-5. Morgan, PIT/WAS 10
T-5. Theriot, CHI 10
7. Eckstein, SD 9
T-8. Pierre, LAD 8
T-8. Cora, NYM 8
T-10. Prado, ATL 7
T-10. Hudson, LAD 7

Meanwhile, the Phillies have only 12 total sacrifices from their position players (Ruiz 4, Victorino 2, Rollins 2, Bruntlett 2, Feliz 1, Coste 1).

Meanwhile, just looking around the division, Mets position players have sacrificed 39 times, Braves 29, Nationals 19, and Marlins 17.

Worth noting that Hanley Ramirez has a sacrifice this year - I'm curious as to how and why that could have possibly happened.

"those in favor of the Ibanez signing were so dismissive of the possibility that his high average with RISP could possibly be a fluke, it is more than fair to point out that his 2009 average in that situation is actually quite terrible."

Oh, so when it suits you, Batting average is a good statistical measure. And you disregard OPS in the same situation?

That is funny coming from one of the guys who kept saying that Burrell's 125 OPS proves he is a superior offensive player to Ibanez (and his 124), regardless of the 40 pt disparity in their BA.

Well if Cox has ordered the sac bunt 3 times as often as Charlie, then we must be wrong about it ;)

some of those sac bunts are likely not a managers call but a bunt for a hit that turns in to a sac if it fails. Taveras, Pierre, and a few of those other guys have wheels and likely did a few on their own.

gobaystars: That's a good point.

mikes77: People would be more apt to back you up if you didn't speak so snidely about OPS compared to batting average. You do seem to be right though, about Ibanez being better than Burrell.

Yo, newer thread

My son went to that game last night.

What a stinker it was.

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