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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Game 110: Sacrifice attempt with a .300 hitter somehow backfires (61-49)

Cole Hamels pitched great last night, but the Phils' home-win streak was snapped at 12 when Charlie Manuel decided to decrease his team's chances of winning the game by making Placido Polanco sacrifice bunt in the 8th inning with first and second and nobody out. The score was 1-0 at the time. The run frequency chart says you are more likely to score at least one run with runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out (about 70 percent) than you are with 1st and 2nd with nobody out (about 65 percent). However, a sacrifice bunt is definitely not successful 100 percent of the time to back up the strategy simply to tie the game: especially when there is a forceout at third base with a lefty pitcher on the mound. Polanco bunted and Rollins was thrown out at third.

More important than run frequency in this situation is run expectancy, which tells you how many runs you are expected to score in a given situation. This chart shows that the Phils were expected to score 1.57 runs in that inning before Polanco bunted. Had Polanco even got the bunt down successfully, this number would have dropped to 1.46.

The Phillies certainly decreased their chances of taking the lead in that inning and likely decreased their chances of even tying the game by telling Polanco to bunt. It didn't help that he didn't even bunt properly (towards first base to avoid the out at third), but that's why you don't even risk it.

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