Friday, May 24, 2013

On Jim Leyland's Decision to Bunt Last NIght

As I get ready to head off to work this morning, three thoughts keep repeating in my head.

1. I hate getting up in the morning.

2. I should have stayed in school.

3. I can't believe Jim Leyland had Torii Hunter bunt last night.

Of course, all worked out well in the end for the Tigers. Hunter moved the runner along and Prince Fielder ended up singling in the winning run. But just because something works, it doesn't make it the correct call, if that makes sense. Quickly, here's why I hate the call Leyland made last night.

1. You're giving away an out. Outs are precious in baseball, as you only get 27 per game. I loathe the idea of giving one away for free.

2. Torii Hunter is one of your best hitters on the team. Why take the bat out of his hands? He's a smart hitter and has only hit into 2 double plays all year. Trust the 17 year veteran to get the job done.

3. Before last night, Hunter had ONE successful sacrifice bunt since 2001. One. Leyland had him try to bunt a week or so back and it backfired. He is not a bunter. To put it in perspective, other than one time last season, Hunter had not executed a sac bunt since before the 9/11 tragedy in New York. My nine year old was still three years away from being born. George W. Bush was still at the beginning of his second term as president.

4. By having Hunter bunt, it opens up first base and allows the Twins to walk Miguel Cabrera. Why in the blue hell would you let the opposing team take the bat out of the hands of the best hitter in baseball that is currently riding one of the hottest streaks of his career? It's insanity. One may argue, as Lynn Henning did on Twitter, that the Twins probably wouldn't have given Cabrera much to hit whether first base was open or not. Maybe...maybe not. But Cabrera has shown that he can drill a non-strike as far as a strike in the past. Let the God of Baseball hit, for crying out loud.

5. This means you're putting your hopes on Prince Fielder to deliver. Yes, Prince is a star and our cleanup man. But before that single, he was hitting under .250 for the month of May with 16 K's in 74 at bats. He is a constant double play threat. He popped out with the bases loaded earlier in the game. And his single? It should have been a double play. Luckily, the Twins are awful and screwed it up.

6. I was told the odds of scoring are better with a runner on second and one out than a runner on first with zero outs. In a normal case, sure. But does that take into account that the player at the plate is a red hot best right-handed hitter since Willie Mays? Doe it take into account that the #5 man in the order was now Don Kelly due to a pointless, and way too late to matter, pinch running decision by Leyland? If Gardy walks Prince to load the bases for the .194 hitting Kelly, the ending last night has a decent chance of not being a happy one.

In the end, all worked out well for the Tigers and this is all a moot point. Or a "mute" point, as Rod Allen would probably say. But I still find the decision to be mind boggling. I'm sure Jim thinks it was a "no-brainer" and he's "tickled" with the outcome.

Oh well. A win is a win. I'm off to work. Have a good one, kids.

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