Game 2013.98: Tigers at White Sox

53-44, 1st place, 2.5 games up on Cle.

Good win last night to cap off a terrible series. I’m still frustrated about JV’s start. I have JV in my Scoresheet league. Here’s my typical  reaction rajectory during a JV start.

1st inning: “That’s okay, just a hit, guess we won’t get a no hitter tonight.”

Later in the 1st inning: “Oh well, just a run, he’ll still lower his ERA a good chunk tonight.”

3rd inning: “Okay, it’s a few runs, but as long as he doesn’t give up more than 3, the Tigers can still comfortably win the game.”

4th inning: “Ahhhh, heck, this will definitely be a fantasy loss with my weak hitting scoresheet team.”

4th inning: “Goodness, his ERA is going to blow up.”

5th inning: “I hate baseball.”

But let’s not overlook the great start by Fister last night, and the shut down 7-8-9 bullpen. I was surprised to see Smyly/Rondon 7-8, but I think that was a situational thing.

The combined pitching line for the five relievers who pitched in the KC series – 7.1IP 3H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 7SO. Salty.


Anyway, I’ve been meaning to write about the bunt for a while. More often than not these little research jaunts are a way for me to prove a barroom opinion that I was willing to lay down my life for a few nights back. Oftentimes, I end up scrapping the blog post because the research demands that I restate my opinion, or act as if it never happened.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case here.

Before we get started, we need to understand “Run Expectancy.”  Run Expectancy is the number of a runs a team can expect to score given a certain state of affairs. If you Google it you’ll see a bevy of examples. I’m using the 2013 #s over from Baseball Prospectus, but note that the RE is almost the exact same regardless of year (recent year) provided you have a large enough sample size. For starters, here is the difference between a runner on 1st with no outs, and a runner on 2nd with 1 out.


# of Outs

Run Expectancy







Simply, you shouldn’t bunt, unless you like scoring 25% less runs.

Now let’s take a look at a specific Tigers’ instance.

On Saturday night, the Tigers got the first two men on base in the top of the 8th. Austin Jackson stepped up with the Tigers down one. Leyland put on the bunt sign.

Here is an abbrievated Run Expectancy (“RE”) matrix for this particular situation.


# of Outs

Run Expectancy

1st & 2nd



2nd & 3rd



As you can see from the chart above, the Tigers would be expected to score more runs in the current state of affairs, rather than moving the runners over and sacrificing an out. (For those of you who haven’t spent a lot of time in sabermetrics, outs are to baseball what hearts are to Link in Zelda. Outs are your life force. You should do everything you can to conserve them. You can read about this all over the place. Let me know if you want some good sources.

But to put it bluntly, you do not want to give up outs.

Now, despite calling for a bunt when he shouldn’t have, Leyland was granted a reprieve. The count went to 3-1. 3-1! A great hitters count! This year, on a 3-1 count, Jackson’s OPS is 1.762. After a 3-1 count, his OPS is 1.469. Take off the bunt! I was screaming into my At Bat app, at the hospital, quietly. Take off the bunt!

No matter.

In the end, Jackson did bunt, successfully. But the Tigers failed to score in a 2&3 1 out situation. And they lost the game.

All of that said, I must note that the chances of scoring a run are better in the runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out (~69%) vs. 1st and 2nd with 0 out (~64%). But that is just 1 run. Considering our late inning woes, Leyland should have played for a multi-run inning with a rally opportunity; rather than giving away an out.


A few notes:

– VMart is hitting .391 with a 1.029 OPS in July. His average is up to .263.

– AJax is 9-53 wit 21 Ks in his past 13. He’s struck out at least once in every game this month.

– Infante is not expected to play in the White Sox series.

Tonight’s Series Opening Lineup:

1. Jackson, CF
2. Hunter, RF
3. Cabrera, 3B
4. Fielder, 1B
5. Martinez, DH
6. Peralta, SS
7. Tuiasosopo, LF
8. Pena, C
9. Perez, 2B

29 thoughts on “Game 2013.98: Tigers at White Sox”

      1. Any word yet on other players, or are they going to maintain the suspense and announce them only one at a time.

  1. Tui gets the nod tonight in LF… but since Sale is pitching, I doubt Dirks can complain

    This year’s CWS is one of the worst teams in MLB, the next four games and the 3-game series against them in DET in a few weeks would be a great time for DET to pick up 5-7 W’s.

  2. Bunting is a special tool, one which should not and cannot be applied to any old existing situation. Context is everything here: what inning, score, who’s batting (can he bunt?), who’s pitching, and a whole slew of other variables. Of course Jackson probably shouldn’t have been bunting in the above situation, but what if the batter was Santiago? Cabrera? the pitcher in an IL game? Bunting is another kind of “play”, like calling for the steal or hit and run, where there is going to be some risk (in this case the risk of not having a big inning!) and the ability of the players to execute is paramount. I think an astute strategic mind at the helm, being aware of all the many contingencies, would have an advantage calling (or not!) this kind of play over your statistically averaged manager. Basically, I just don’t find the statistical evaluation that compelling in this case.

    1. I agree with most of your post, except the idea that Austin Jackson was the wrong guy to try bunting with:

      1. He can actually bunt, unlike 80% of the team. Which means the odds of a successful sacrifice are high (even if it was statistically more advantageous to sacrificd bunt, you need to factor in the odds of successfully sacrificing, vs Avila-ing it. In addition, there is a reasonable chance that Jackson might even beat out the bunt).

      2. He is in the middle of a serious slump. As I posted yesterday, his OBP for the last two weeks is barely above the Mendoza line. That’s OBP, not BA. Therefore his chances for getting a hit were probably well below the average figured into the numbers Kevin posted.

      3. An additional advantage to a successful sacrifice is that neither Jackson nor Hunter could GIDP, which means that Cabrera will come to the plate with a runner in scoring position. Cabrera’s RISP BA of near .500 makes the “average” odds figured into numbers silly.

      So, in conclusion, the combination of Jackson’s slump plus the result if bringing Cabrera to the plate trump the numbers and make it the right call, in my estimation. Not often that I disagree with Kevin!

      1. Yep. The uniqueness of the situation should decide rather than simply playing it by the book.

        1. In my mind, there are too many factors. You either go by gut, all the time, or by the book (new book), all the time. Leyland goes by gut and we second guess him more often than not. If Jackson were bunting for a base hit, that would have been different.

          Either way, I’m against wasting outs, no matter the situation.

          Reasonable minds can differ.

    1. Jakkkson’s recent whiff rate is a reasonable argument for having him bunt in Saturday’s game. But when the count went to 3-1, he should have been swinging as Kevin made clear.

      1. There is merit in that–even within the slump, he may have been doing just fine in the times he managed a 3-1 count. So, ideally, I agree. In the real world, is anyone ever (even if the should be) sent up to bunt, and then gotten the bunt call pulled because the count went to 3-1?

        1. I have known managers to pull a switch, especially after the batter has shown bunt and drawn the infielders in, even on an 0-1 count for that matter.

  3. That’s Perez’s first ML stolen base. Doesn’t he get to keep the bag, or don’t they do that any more.

    1. It’s a Sale thing. Martinez is 6-for-11 lifetime against him. Some guys just hit other guys.

      1. 6 for 7 this season! I’m surprised Ventura left Sale in for the 8th. I guess they are showing off his durability as trade bait (106 pitches after 7).

  4. So, 4 runs in the last three innings – good.
    Leyland learning how to use Coke? – vs. 1 LH batter with a 5 run lead and nobody on. Also good.

  5. nice to get the first against Sale..even though it was against Max…..
    actually getting add on runs late which is ,as we know the biggest Tiger problem…..
    Great to see Victor banging the ball over the field…….
    actually put two effective bunts down leadibg to the clown show……

    and certainly not least getting Coke out of there after the left handed hitter..Mumbles +1
    and you know it was killing Mumbles having to play Pena even though it was LH pitcher…..+2

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