Over at FanGraphs, Matt Klaassen has been going through the best and worst plays of 2012 based on WPA. (For those not familiar, that’s “Win Probability Added”, and is a context-based stat which shows how each play in a game added or subtracted from a team’s chance to win. It’s based on situation, so a two-run homer, for example, is far more valuable when you’re down one in the ninth than when you’re up six in the fourth. You can read a full definition here.)
A few days ago, Klaassen looked at the worst bunts of 2012 by WPA; that is, the bunts which did the most damage to a team’s chance of winning. (The correct answer here is probably “all bunts”, but still.) Who’s the very first name on the list? Oh, this is just wonderful:
Worst Bunt into a Double Play
One would think that a bunt into a double play would be the worst overall bunt of the season, but that is not true this year, at least. On May 8, Brett Pill homered off of Clayton Kershaw in the top of the second inning to put the Giants on top of the Dodgers 2-0. By the bottom of the seventh, the Dodgers were still down 2-1, but Ryan Vogelsong, who had been dealing all game, was on the hill. The Dodgers started a nice rally with singles from Juan Rivera and James Loney. It was a nice situation to have — two runners on with no outs. Juan Uribe came to the plate and bunted. It made sense — Uribe’s hitting has totally gone into the tank since making the move from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Maybe he’s a double agent. Buster Posey fielded the bunt and the Giants managed to get both Uribe and the lead runner, costing the Dodgers -.228 WPA. It wasn’t the Dodgers last shot — Andre Ethier‘s double play ball with the bases loaded in the eighth was even more devastating — but Uribe’s bunt was very bad.
I didn’t have a recap of that game, but the disastrous call was not lost on others at the time…
Eric Stephen, “Dodgers Sacrifice Chance To Win In Loss To Giants“:
The Dodgers offense could only manage one run in their 2-1 loss to the Giants Tuesday night, as the Dodgers’ demise was hastened by a pair of ill-fated bunts.
Down one run, the Dodgers threatened in the bottom of the seventh inning off Ryan Vogelsong when Juan Rivera and James Loney opened the frame with singles, but a Juan Uribe sacrifice bunt attempt turned into a 2-5-3 double play that effectively neutered the rally. Uribe has one successful sacrifice bunt attempt in the last three seasons.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, with the Dodgers down one run, the team basically hit the lottery by somehow managing to get Juan Rivera and James Loney to not make outs.
That brought up Juan Uribe in what was clearly a traditional sacrifice situation, especially considering that Uribe sucks. However, while he does have 60 sacrifice bunts in his career over 5121 plate appearances, he’s had only one sacrifice bunt in the last three seasons over the course of 941 plate appearances. As such, it’s safe to say that he’s not exactly accustomed to bunting.
Uribe executing a successful sacrifice is anything but a foregone conclusion, then you add that you’re actually lessening your chances of scoring runs by bunting, and it’s just an overall terrible decision.
Mattingly though, of course, called for the bunt anyway, and it worked out SPLENDIDLY
The next inning, Mattingly called for another bunt with men on, and while this one worked, it merely opened up first base ahead of Matt Kemp. Kemp was of course walked intentionally, and San Francisco lefty Javier Lopez retired lefties Andre Ethier, Loney, & Tony Gwynn to end the threat. Mattingly later said he wouldn’t have changed his decision in either case, even after the fact… and all of a sudden I’m wondering if this post should have been more about Don Mattingly than Juan Uribe.
Either way, bunting is the worst. The. Worst.