The present and future of the Mariners franchise was up with runners on first and second, and no outs. He squared up to bunt twice, buried himself in an 0-2 count doing so, and then struck out on the next pitch.
Did you know that sacrifices are successful in the American League just 67% of the time? And that doesn’t even include at bats like Dustin Ackley‘s where a player is forced to bat from a bad hitter’s count after trying to bunt. In other words, if we could somehow count all the times players started an at bat trying to bunt, we would probably see success rates closer to 60%-65%.
Did you know that Ackley has an excellent .353 OBP in 377 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers? Or that during his career, Jose Valverde has been significantly worse against left-handed batters than righties…and that those splits are even more extreme in 2011 and 2012 where he’s allowed an OBP above .360?
Did you know that with runners on first and second and none out, the average team in 2012 scores 1.40 runs that inning? With runners on the second and third and one out, the run average actually drops to 1.28. Yes, you read that correctly. Barring an error, the best possible scenario for Ackley bunting in that situation actually lowers average runs scored. But situationally, perhaps bunting is the right move if two runs are needed?
Nope. According to research by Tom Tango, the chances of scoring from first with none out–the equivalent of tying the game for Seattle Tuesday night–are virtually the same as scoring from second with one out. In other words, if Ackley could sacrifice successfully 100% of the time, then Tuesday night’s ninth inning bunt was strategically a lateral move. Please refer to rhetorical question number 1. Bunts are not properly executed 100% of time, or even close to it.
Did you know that Ackley, in fact, has never successfully sacrificed in his short career? Sure players practice that stuff all the time (I think?), but it’s probably not quite the same as doing it in a real game off the other team’s closer.
Wedge knew none of these things, or didn’t want to pay attention to them, or something.