The Derek Jeter bunt

That depends what the definitions of 'any closer' and 'prove' are
Rosenthal: Maybe starting Gaudin isn't such a bad idea

In the bottom of the 7th of Game 2, the Yankees had the Phillies on the ropes. With two runs already in, the Yanks had no outs and the top of the order coming up. Although Johnny Damon‘s umpire-assisted double play drew most of the attention, the batter before deserves a look.

We know what was going to happen when Derek Jeter came to the plate with no out and runners on first and second. We knew what was going to happen because we’ve seen it so many times this season. We’ve watched the Yankees’ all-time hitter — a guy with 2747 career hits, a .317 career batting average with a .388 on-base percentage, and someone who hits exceptional well in the playoffs — come to bat with runners on and take it upon himself to bunt.

What Derek did on Thursday night defies stupidity. He tried to bunt twice and missed both times. Then, with the count 0-2 against him, he bunted again. This one rolled foul, and the Yankees’ leadoff hitter had bunted his walk to a strike out. As the Yanks did not plate another run that inning, it could have proved costly.

Yesterday, Joe Posnanski took Jeter to task for the bunt. Because Posnanski has a way with words and images, take a read:

Jeter would later admit in his own understated way that it was dumb to try and bunt there (he bunted foul for strike three), but, of course, “dumb” doesn’t begin to cover the lunacy of that bunt attempt. It is dumb to send an insulting text message to the insult-target by mistake. It is dumb for the Coyote to keep buying his Road Runner hunting products from the Acme Corporation. It is dumb to pull on Superman’s cape, to spit in the wind, to tell Batman your villainous plan when you have him captured, to give Gilligan some sort of meaningful role the rescue mission. That bunt wasn’t dumb. It was closer to a nervous breakdown.

Posnanski goes on to question the Yanks’ belief in Jeter a bit. He believes that Girardi initially called the bunt but later called it off too. Jeter, then, tried to bunt for the third time on his own:

And undoubtedly, Jeter believes this himself. That’s the only possible reason he would have tried to bunt with two strikes, even after Girardi called it off. Jeter wants to sacrifice himself there, I think, because he believes sacrifice is a big part of what makes him great and different. Would A-Rod bunt there? Would Miggy Cabrera? Would Manny Ramirez? Would Albert Pujols? No (nor should they). They would not bunt … but Derek Jeter would. Because he is not just a great hitter. No, he’s a guy who would do anything to help the team win.

Trouble is — he IS a great hitter, and hitting is the best way he can help the team win — in that situation and in pretty much every other situation. He should know this. The Yankees should know this. But the Jeter mystique has been blown up to such proportions that it has become its own monster, and monsters need to be fed.

When I saw Derek Jeter foul bunt on strike three like some helpless pitcher, I immediately thought it was one of the five dumbest plays I had ever seen — and I know I would have felt that way had he gotten the bunt down.

He concludes: “After all these years, the Yankees still don’t seem to full understand or appreciate why Derek Jeter is one of the great players his generation. And what’s even stranger is that Jeter may not be entirely sure himself.”

I’m not sure I fully support his final argument. I’m sure the Yankees understand and appreciate Derek Jeter as one of the greatest players of his generation. What the Yankees do not seem to understand and what Derek definitely doesn’t understand is that bunting in that situation is sheer lunacy. It doesn’t increase the team’s chances of scoring multiple runs, and it gives the Phillies an extra out, that ever-important currency of a game that lasts just 27 outs. It took the bat out of the hands of one of October’s most prolific hitters and gave the Phillies in opportunity to escape the inning.

And you know what? Derek won’t bunt with two strikes again. But if faced with the same circumstances tonight, if he comes up with runners on first and second with no one out, Derek and the Yanks will do it all over again.

email
That depends what the definitions of 'any closer' and 'prove' are
Rosenthal: Maybe starting Gaudin isn't such a bad idea
  • pete

    this is and always has been my only real gripe with girardi. the only situation i can really think of where bunting is called for is if you are being shut down in the late innings w/ a dominant closer coming in and you have either a runner on 2nd and no outs or 1st and 2nd and no outs, and you are bunting with your #9 hitter.

  • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

    Would they do it all over again? Your point is well made and I agree, but I really don’t think they’d let Jeter bunt again in that situation. The Yanks aren’t stupid. They know what everybody’s saying.

    • http://www.stonerh1@aol.com Bob Stone

      I have to second that thought. I can’t believe that Jeter and/or the Yanks would ever make that same idiotic move again.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      I think I didn’t get the point across properly in the last sentence. Jeter won’t try to bunt on an 0-2 count again, but if he comes up with two on and no out, he’ll try to bunt. He has done it all all season, and he’ll keep doing in the postseason.

      • http://www.stonerh1@aol.com Bob Stone

        That part I agree with. On 0-2 . . . . never again.

      • http://www.progressamericana.com/ Pablo Zevallos

        Well, it’s better than GIDPing…(which, to his credit, he’s done a lot less of this year but still a lot (24 v 18)

  • Mike

    I generally agree that sac bunting is counter-productive most of the time, but in this case it was the right move (obviously not when he got to 2 strikes). The downside to sac bunting is that reduces your chances for a big inning while only marginally increasing your chances to score 1 run. In this case, with Mo coming in and already up 2, the bunt was correct. I guarantee their is a greater difference in win percentage between a 2-run and 3-run lead in the 8th than there is between a 3-run and 5-run lead. 1 run is a big inning in the 8th when you already have a 2-run lead and Mo coming in. It basically locks the game up and anything you can do to increase the likelihood of scoring that 1 run is worth it.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      It’s really never the right move with Derek Jeter up and two runners on base. I just can’t believe that. Right there, you just have to go for the kill, not the tack-on run.

      • AndrewYF

        But a tack-on run is tantamount to the kill when you already have a two-run lead and Rivera coming in to pitch the ninth.

        The bunt was the right call, at least until it got to an 0-2 count.

        • Ellis

          Absolutely.

        • countryclub

          I agree. The bunt in that situation is the right move(until he picked up 2 strikes).

        • Count Zero

          I agree — it wasn’t a bad move until he got to two strikes. A tack-on run there is huge and 1st and 2nd with nobody out is about the only time a sac bunt really makes sense anyway.

      • MikeD

        I’ve been as anti-bunt over the years as anyone, but I do believe there are times when a bunt is in order. It’s rare, but they exist, and the game situation the other night was one of them, driven chiefly by the fact that it was late in the game, and Mariano Rivera was pitching.

        The problem with statistics that suggest that a bunt is *always* a bad idea is those stats are based on the aggregate and not game-specific situations.

        The link below to Fangraphs does a nice job of presenting the opposing point of view on why Derek Jeter should have bunted(up until two strikes.)

        http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs.....jeter-bunt

  • http://www.stonerh1@aol.com Bob Stone

    It comes to mind that despite his low key approach to the media and his quiet demeanor, Jeter is more cocky and self-impressed than he let’s on.

    Only someone who thinks he can do anything in any situation would pull such a move. It was arrogant, selfish, misguided and smacks of a touch of megalomania.

    Either that or Jeter went temmporarily insane.

    • countryclub

      You just described every Hall of Famer from every sport. That unwavering belief in themselves is what pushes them past other good players.

      • http://www.stonerh1@aol.com Bob Stone

        Good point. But to quote a great line from Dirty Harry: “A man has to know his limits.”

        • http://www.stonerh1@aol.com Bob Stone

          *limitations

  • Esteban

    Dave Cameron at FanGraphs talked about this and said that calling for a bunt was not the wrong move because it would have increased the Yankees chances of scoring one more run and made the game nearly over with Mo pitching.
    I think it’s the wrong move because they should want to score more than one run in that situation and also because Derek Jeter, at this point, is a far superior hitter to Johnny Damon.

    • whozat

      Derek Jeter, at this point, is a far superior hitter to Johnny Damon

      just wanted to say that louder. With the epic slump of JD and the lesser slump of Tex, I really did think that Jeter’s AB was their best shot. That said…Jeter is a DP machine, and it’s not like Posada is a good guy to do the running part of a hit-and-run.

      • JMK aka The Overshare

        Jeter is a far superior hitter to Damon

        C’mon guys, Damon is batting a hearty .220/.250/.360 this post-season!

        • steve (different one)

          except Damon doesn’t need to get a hit to score the run.

          so, i’m not sure his small sample of playoff numbers really matter.

          a medium fly ball scores the run. Melky would be on 3B.

  • Kaitlin B.

    I thought that JoePos’s point was that Derek Jeter bunts because he believes that he is good because he sacrifices himself. I disagree with that point. Jeter has often bunted for hits, and I think that’s what he was trying to do there. If it works, then bases loaded, nobody out with Damon, Teixeira and A-Rod coming up. If it doesn’t, then it’s a successful sacrifice. And if it doesn’t work at all, then it’s just one out, instead of a DP. And as much as I love Jeter (and I do a whole lot), I always get nervous when there’s a man on first and less than two out, because the man hits into a lot of double plays. A lot. In fact, you guys wrote about moving him to leadoff last offseason because he has so many GIDP.

    Was it the smartest decision? No. But Poz says that you’d never catch Pujols or A-Rod bunting because that’s not a major part of their identities. Well no, duh. They get lots of XBH. If they bunted, everyone would go nuts because they just gave up the chance for a HR to end up with an almost sure out. But Jeter doesn’t have that kind of power and he grounds into tons of DPs. He also tries to bunt for hits every now and then. So it’s not because he thinks of himself as some sort of self-sacrificing leader of men that he bunts; it’s just part of his arsenal considering the type of hitter he is.

    • JMK aka The Overshare

      All kinds of THIS, though I think you may be undermining the possibility that Jeter’s attempted bunt with 2 strikes is selfish.

  • gargoyle

    I’m still infuriated by the bunt and it left a bad taste in my mouth even after they won the game. Playing to eke out another run with a Murderer’s Row of Jeter, Damon, Tex, ARod, and Matsui coming up. Just infuriating.

  • D M

    Giving up outs is indefensible

    • steve (different one)

      wrong.

    • steve (different one)

      most of the time it is indefensible.

      sometimes it isn’t.

      this, depending on whether or not you believe a 3 run lead is a lock for Mo, may be one of those times.

      you know, the “statheads” who LOVE to mock “old school” thinking and “small ball” have become just as rigid in their thinking as their targets, just to the other extreme.

  • pete

    this is a simplistic and somewhat faulty way of thinking about it, i know, but it was the logic i used in HS to pizzown my coach when he tried to get me to bunt: you’re moving up a runner 90 feet out of a necessary 360, or getting 1/4 of the necessary work done. you’re giving up 1/3 of your outs. 1/3>1/4. Still, he was a fucking statistics teacher and couldn’t figure out that sac-bunting a runner from 1st to 2nd (a fast runner who could easily have stolen the base anyway) in the bottom of the third against a guy who had been giving up hard-hit outs all day, was a dumb idea.

  • Esteban

    I do think that the sabermetric community has gone too far to the point of thinking it’s always a bad move to sac bunt, because I think there are times when a bunt is beneficial (low scoring game, down one or two, 7th inning or later with a poor hitter up). This, however, was a bad move for Jeter to be bunting.

  • raymagnetic

    I hate bunts. There are people who actually believe that giving up outs is a good thing. I hate them too by the way. :evil:

    The people who believe that bunting is a good thing also believe that Jose Molina makes AJ Burnett a better pitcher.

    I truly believe this.

    • Ellis

      Oh, give me a break. Don’t get all accusatory and self-righteous.

      With a 2-run lead, no outs, and Mariano coming in, the bunt was absolutely the right call.

      People saying “giving up outs is always wrong” are just being dogmatic and oversimplistic. If Jeter bunts the runners over, JD or Tex just has to hit a fly ball. Then we’ve got a 3-run lead for Mariano freakin’ Rivera in the playoffs – that’s a nail in the coffin.

      You have to look at the situation – in this one, bunting was the right call.

      (of course, bunting on the 0-2 count was a facepalm).

      • Ellis

        P.S. I believe the bunt was the right call, but I do NOT believe that Jose Molina should ever be in a postseason lineup.

      • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

        You know what else would be the right call? Scoring five runs and not needing Mariano to throw 39 pitches over two innings. Jeter’s bunt didn’t help that cause.

        • Ellis

          Well, that’s hardly a predetermined outcome if Jete’s swinging away. There’s also the DP, the out, which is much more likely than the 5-run inning you describe.

          And RAB has said it has no problem with Mo throwing 39 pitches, flanked by off-days.

        • Ellis

          Ben what did you think of the FanGraphs article on this subject? I think it was right on point.

          • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

            I think if you start with the assumption, as you and Fangraphs did, that the Yanks need and want only one run there, then trying to bunt is a good move. I’d prefer to see the Yanks go for a big inning though. That, to me, is why the bunt was a bad move. It’s definitely not an indefensible move, as other commenters have said, but I like more runs.

            • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

              And just to clarify: With no outs and runners on 1st and 2nd, bunting slightly improves the team’s chances of scoring exactly one run. It doesn’t help them score more than one.

              • steve (different one)

                and just to clarify the change in run expectancy from before the bunt to after the bunt is 1.5 runs to 1.4 runs (from B-Pro).

                so implying that they killed a chance at “5 runs” is absurdly misleading.

                they exchanged a very small increase in total expected runs for a significant (68% vs 61%) chance to score AT LEAST one run.

                you are exagerrating the cost of the bunt to make your point.

                • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  This. Many times, this.

                  We can’t go overboard with the anti-sac bunt sentiment. Bunting with 2 strikes? Tag that: Horrendously Retarded. But bunting with 1 or 0 strikes? Not necessarily a bad play in that situation.

            • Ellis

              Got it, there’s the core disagreement – do we want one run or do we need many. I agree that the bunt’s aim is for the tack-on run, and you just wanted more runs. Fair. Let’s hope tonight the yankees offense just goes ballistic.

        • countryclub

          This line of thinking has been one of their big problems in the past 5 years. Too many all or nothing type swings (and misses). Sometimes playing for 1 or 2 runs is the right move.

          • whozat

            Yeah, Derek Jeter is really known for swinging for the fences.

            Sometimes, playing for one or two runs is the right move, yes. Those times are very rare. Two on, no one out, Derek Jeter at the plate…probably not one of those times.

        • dalelama

          Two points not brought up…a successful sac bunt increases Posada’s chances of scoring and it reduces the odds of the next hitter hitting into a double play, ironically Posada probably wouldn’t wouldn’t have been doubled up on the ball Damon hit.

      • whozat

        “With a 2-run lead, no outs, and Mariano coming in, the bunt was absolutely the right call.”

        I think that makes it a defensible call, especially with Jeter’s history of GIDPs. It doesn’t make it absolutely the right call. Jeter still has a 40% chance of moving the runners over and not making an out at all.

      • raymagnetic

        I’m not being self-righteous at all. Players of Jeter’s caliber shouldn’t be bunting wtih no outs and 2 runners on.

        I’m of the belief that only pitchers who can only pray that they make contact should be bunting in that situation.

        But hey, that’s just me.

    • whozat

      but…that’s what Joe Morgan says, and he knows baseball!!

    • JMK aka The Overshare

      False equivalency, red herring, spotlight fallacy. I’m sure there are others. Those are just the ones on the top of my head.

  • tommydee2000

    This move was the albatross of “Small Ball/the NL Way” is better. It is also the way to negate the major Yankee advantage against an NL team.

  • mko

    What bugs me the most about the decision to bunt there: The inning was going the Yankees’ way since it started. They already scored a run (?), the bottom of the order was hitting well, they had runners on first and second with NO outs and the top of the order coming up. The Phillies were in trouble and it felt like there was a lot more action coming. The bunt just killed the “rally” and let the Phillies’ pitchers off easy.

    So, don’t bunt when the inning is rolling along great as it is and it doesn’t seem unlikely other hits are to come…

    • Ellis

      I’m not sure that’s a real argument, that the “inning was rolling.” What does that mean? The previous hitter got a hit? Does that make the current hitter actually more likely to get a hit?

      • whozat

        It means the pitcher had already walked one guy and then given up a well-hit single to the next. Which probably implies that the pitcher wasn’t doing a great job of pitching (borne out by the fact that Damon hit a ball well too).

        Given that a historically great hitter was at the plate, who also happens to be able to take a walk…it seems odd to tell him to give himself up to give Mo three runs instead of two, when the upside of swinging away is being able to take the 39-year-old closer out of the game instead of riding him for 40 pitches. The downside is what you were going to do anyway: leave Mo in.

        • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          … the upside of swinging away is being able to take the 39-year-old closer out of the game instead of riding him for 40 pitches. The downside is what you were going to do anyway: leave Mo in.

          So you have these 2 options – to bunt (X) and not to bunt (Y). If X leads to more certainty that you’ll score at least one run in the inning, and Y leads to less certainty you’ll score at least one run in the inning but a better chance of scoring multiple runs, with the possible added benefit that you might be able to rest your closer (which is not a foregone conclusion, since this is the World Series and Girardi might have stuck with Mo to nail down the W anyway)… Do you choose Y because you might get to rest Mo? I get choosing Y if you think it’s the best way to win the game, but resting Mo is way down on my list of reasons to choose either one of those tactics… Especially since we don’t know if he would have stayed in the game or not, and since there was a full day off on Friday, plus all of Saturday, between the games for Mo to rest anyway.

          The upside that’s important here is winning the game, not lessening Mo’s workload. And you can’t say that the downside of bunting in that situation (that at-bat, not the 2-strikes thing) is that you’re choosing to definitely leave Mo in the game. You have absolutely no idea whether the Yankees, if Jeter gets the bunt down, go on to score only 1 run in that inning or if they go on to open the floodgates. That’s a false dichotomy.

  • Zooboy

    I partly blame the Angels for throwing away the two bunts in game 6.

    I see the argument for bunting (before two strikes) — put the ball in play, stay out of the double play, tack on a run for Mo, yada, yada, yada — but I think you go for the jugular there and play for the big inning. Especially at home with a lead. Too timid for my tastes to trade an out for the chance at a run.

    • Ellis

      the argument is this: one run would constitute a big inning. summary of the fangraphs article: Yanks had a 92% win expectancy before Jeter bunted, and with Mariano coming in, it was significantly higher (92% reflects the average ML team). Scoring one run would raise that percentage to a very very safe territory.

      • Zooboy

        I understand the argument, but it’s still too timid for my tastes.

        And Mo was not just coming in. He was already in and pitched a tough inning. What would two runs or more do to the “probability of win” ? It’s the WS, I say go for the jugular right there. Let Jetes hit, try and blow it open so convincingly that your tempted to sit Mo. (But not replace him with Ac after two outs…)

  • The Iron Horse

    Props to Kabak for recognizing that Jeter is unbelievably clutch in these kinds of situations. Bunting may be the “right” move in that situation, but we’re talking about Mr. November here.

    As for the GIDP – Jeter is fast as hell. Hard to double him up, I don’t care how many times he’s been a victim of it.

    • JackC

      But Jeter’s speed doesn’t blunt his predilection for hitting into DPs because he hits a lot of hard-hit grounders. I’m often pro-bunt, but I think the biggest thing arguing against it is that Jeter getting a base hit is a more likely scenario than Damon getting one.

    • whozat

      “Hard to double him up, I don’t care how many times he’s been a victim of it.”

      What? That’s like saying “I’m not allergic to strawberries, I don’t care how many times I’ve been rushed to the hospital due to allergic reactions to strawberries.”

      It’s not even that you’re refusing to see a causal relationship between two strongly correlated things…you’re refusing to allow the fact that Jeter grounds into a lot of DPs to indicate to you that he grounds into a lot of DPs.

      • The Iron Horse

        What I was trying to get it was that I believe Jeter will come through in the situation, and I don’t speak for Kabak, but I think that’s something he believes as well. I am aware that what I said was contradictory, but we’re not in court here…

        I think a little less referring to the proverbial (and actual) binder wouldn’t be such a bad thing for Girardi to consider.

    • steve (different one)

      Props to Kabak for recognizing that Jeter is unbelievably clutch in these kinds of situations.

      right, if only we had an example of him not coming through, say from game 6 of the ALCS when he bounced back to the pitcher with men on 2nd and 3rd.

      or when he grounded into a DP in game 2 of the ALCS with men on 1st and 2nd.

      Jeter is great, but treating a hit like a foregone conclusion is seems pretty selective.

  • http://www.repairmycomputer.com Marc

    Sooo… Game 5. AJ Burnett is the pitcher, and its in Philly. Does Girardi go with Molina in the lineup or Posada? Would he really sacrifice two batting spots for automatic outs, just to make AJ feel better?

    • JMK aka The Overshare

      Yes. The game two nights ago cemented it, in my mind, at least.

      • whozat

        Cemented it as a thing likely to happen, or cemented it as a good idea?

        • http://www.repairmycomputer.com Marc

          I don’t know how anyone could think thatd be a good idea. Maybe AJ and Posada dislike each other? Even then though, they are paid lots to get over differences and help the team win

          • whozat

            AJ has repeatedly said that he’s fine throwing to Posada, and has indeed had plenty of success doing so.

            Speculating that they don’t like each other and that’s what’s going on is…nonsensical.

        • JMK aka The Overshare

          As a likely thing. I disagree with the move myself, but ultimately, that’s irrelevant. I should have been more clear. Apologies.

  • V

    It’s a dumb decision to bunt there. And no, a successful bunt would NOT have increased the odds of a run.

    Why? Because Jeter is hot right now, Damon is ice cold, and Texeira is moderately cold.

    Odds of Jeter getting on base are greater than the combined odds of Damon bringing in a runner from third with 1 out and Tex bringing him in with 2.

    • http://sports-odds.com/images/stories/yankees-arod-teixeira.jpg JobaWockeeZ

      And no, a successful bunt would NOT have increased the odds of a run.
      Nope, I don’t think that’s entirely right.

      There are more ways to score a run with 1 out and runners on second and third than 0 outs 1st and second.

      • bkight13

        From Bill James

        Chance of scoring, from each base/out state

        0 outs 1 out 2 outs
        1B .38 .25 .12
        2B .61 .41 .21
        3B .86 .68 .29

        So a successful sac bunt would increase the chance of scoring a run from 61% to 68%.

        The failed attempt dropped it from 61% to 41%.

        • V

          Independent of WHO is batting. I don’t have a problem with Molina Or Melky bunting there. I do with Jeter.

      • whozat

        That doesn’t mean it happens a greater percentage of the time.

    • http://twitter.com/riddering Riddering

      This is exactly how I feel. No way do you take the bat out of Jeter’s hands for Damon–who has been very unproductive this postseason.

      The bunt in the beginning before 0-1 and 0-2 would not have driven me so crazy if Damon was just as hot at the plate and Jeter. But everyone citing stats on gaining one run on a successful bunt forgets that the guy behind the bunter needs to get those runs in and no manager should ask the most consistent hitter to give up an out for a cold hitter. In this case, the situation needed to be taken in context and in that context it was foolish.

  • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    He concludes: “After all these years, the Yankees still don’t seem to full understand or appreciate why Derek Jeter is one of the great players his generation. And what’s even stranger is that Jeter may not be entirely sure himself.”

    I’m not sure I fully support his final argument. I’m sure the Yankees understand and appreciate Derek Jeter as one of the greatest players of his generation. What the Yankees do not seem to understand and what Derek definitely doesn’t understand is that bunting in that situation is sheer lunacy.

    I think you’re either missing the point a bit or maybe just didn’t get your point across clearly enough in that little section there. JP isn’t saying ‘the Yanks don’t understand and appreciate Derek Jeter as one of the greatest players of his generation,’ he’s saying ‘the Yanks don’t understand and appreciate why Derek Jeter is one of the greatest players of his generation… which is because he’s a great hitter and player, not because he’s the kind of guy who will put down a sac bunt.’ I don’t think you disagree with JP’s point, you’re agreeing with him.

    I also kinda agree with Kaitlin, above… I totally get JP’s point, but I think he might be missing one important aspect of Jeter’s decision – with 2 strikes and the infield not looking for the bunt anymore, I think he’s trying to bunt for a hit in that spot. I still cursed loudly when he did it, but I immediately thought he was dumb for getting a bit too cute and thinking he could bunt to move the runners over AND probably get a hit there, instead of just, like, being freaking Derek Jeter and getting a hit in that situation, not that he was dumb just for the sin of attempting the bunt in the first place or with 2 strikes (which, I think, he was). As I’ve commented before, I’m not a big fan of the sac bunt except in certain, very limited situations, but I wouldn’t be so sure Jeter was going for the sac bunt in that 2-strike count. (Cue The Artist to tell me you can’t tell when a player is bunting with the intent to sacrifice himself or with the intent to get on base.)

    • whozat

      Well…you can’t, unless you ask and he’s honest about it.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Oh come on… I’m not saying I know, definitively, what was going on in Jeter’s head on that play. I never said anything like that in my comment. I speculated based on the context of the situation and the player involved. So yeah, of course, nobody can absolutely know the answer other than Jeter, but we can certainly do that kind of analysis. I think it’s quite relevant to the question of what Jeter was doing in that spot. We discuss strategy/tactics all the time, I don’t see why this one discreet situation is so different.

        • http://Wenevertradeagoodstarter TLVP

          i agree with you – i think he bunted for a hit – still the wrong move with two strikes, but it certainly had an element of surprise to it

          i don’t know how to get the stats on successful bunts for hit for individual layers – does anyone know?

  • bkight13

    After an 0-2 count Jeter hit .215 with 39 Ks in 107 ABs. So the chance of him getting a bunt down, after 2 tries, was still greater than the chance of a hit and it eliminates the DP. While not a great play, it is far from the dumbest thing ever. The problem I had with it was that he didn’t just square around and give himself up. He tried to get a hit out of it and made it a lot harder on himself.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      After an 0-2 count Jeter hit .215 with 39 Ks in 107 ABs. So the chance of him getting a bunt down, after 2 tries, was still greater than the chance of a hit and it eliminates the DP.

      We need to know what the chances are that Jeter would bunt successfully before we can conclude that the chances of him getting a bunt down were better than the chances of him getting on base (or maybe moving the runner on second over to third, etc.) without attempting the bunt.

      • bkight13

        Jeter bunted 7 times this year and got 3 hits and 4 sacrifices, so I assumed he is a pretty good bunter.

        • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          That’s irrelevant. What’s relevant is what happened when he showed bunt and offered at the pitch, not what happened only when he put one in play. How many times did he attempt a bunt and bunt the ball into foul territory, or just miss? You may be right, I just don’t think you’ve relied on sufficient evidence to arrive at your conclusion.

  • MikeD

    I posted this link somewhere up above. It’s from Fangraphs and defends the Jeter bunt attempt (up to strike two). I’m not a supporter of the bunt if almost all circumstances, but the “it’s always wrong” belief is a bit extreme.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs.....jeter-bunt

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Yeah… I think the ‘it’s always wrong’ belief is clearly not the most reasonable opinion – there are certainly situations (for example, late in a close game, bottom of the order up with the better hitters in the on-deck circle, etc.) when the sac bunt is a good play. I actually don’t think too many people in the anti-sac bunt crowd* are really actually in the ‘it’s always wrong’ group, though. Maybe in their zeal for explaining why the sac bunt is overused or not as valuable a play as people have traditionally believed, they go too far, but I think those who understand why the sac bunt has traditionally been overvalued and overused probably also understand that it is a tactic that has its time and place, too. The two ideas are certainly not mutually exclusive.

      There is a difference, especially in the playoffs, between the value of a tactic that will, over the course of a season, score the most runs, and a tactic, in a single game, result in the best chance to win that single game. It seems counter-intuitive and I might not be stating it elegantly, but hopefully I’m making some sense.

      *Full disclosure – I consider myself to be in this crowd, so I’m not bashing anyone here.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Actually, I know that I stated that poorly. Whatever, hopefully my point comes across anyway.

        • steve (different one)

          i got what you mean. and it makes sense.

  • Tank Foster

    We went through this a few months ago with another bunt situation. Don’t remember the details, but the book “Baseball Between the Numbers” has a very intensive analysis of this. They looked at the chances of scoring 1 run, versus more than 1 run, the chances with various numbers of outs, various levels of batter, etc. What I remember is that with 1st and 2nd and none out, you only increase your chances of 1 or more runs when the batter is a weak hitter. A pitcher, or a hitter who has a very low OBP.

    Jeter shouldn’t have bunted. Perhaps the thinking was that given his somewhat high GIDP rate, they could avoid that outcome and still leave themselves a good shot at one or more runs. With Mo on the mound, that might have been a good idea.

    But certainly at 0-2 it was a stupid move.