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Old 11-05-2019, 01:10 AM
TDog TDog is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Modesto, California
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Originally Posted by voodoochile View Post
The number one way teams encourage a player to get a run home from third with less than 2 outs is by hitting a SF. That skills corresponds well the hit the ball hard and hit the ball up (launch angle and exit velocity) that are highly prized in today's game.
If you look at results involving a wide variety of players with a wide variety of competence, the mistique of the sacrifice fly is changing. The reason a hitter is not charged a time at bat for a sacrifice fly but is for a ground out up the middle to score a runner from third is rooted in a less lively baseball and a more contact-oriented approach to the game. Baseball officially has gone back and forth on the sacrifice-fly stat. Ted Williams didn't hit a sacrifice fly until 1954 when the basis for the current rule went into effect, because his run-scoring fly outs were counted as hitless at bats. His 1941 average would have been .413 with the current sacrifice fly rule.

The logic behind the sacrifice fly is that a player was giving himself up intentionally to loft a fly ball deep enough for a runner from third to tag up and score. Until the early 1970s, a line drive wasn't counted as a sacrifice fly, and a ball caught by an infielder could not count as a sacrifice fly. Then a sacrifice fly could be caught by a runner running in the outfield Now, I believe a catcher who leaves the field of play with a foul popup to score a runner from third counts as a sacrifice fly, although I've never seen it. Slow-footed White Sox catcher Marc Hill once scored from second on a fly out in Yankee stadium. My understanding is that it would have counted as a sacrifice fly even if Mike Squires from third hadn't scored ahead of him and it was clear that Greg Walker wasn't trying to drive in the slowest man on the team from second by flying out to center. The sacrifice fly rule should be rescinded because it isn't about sacrificing yourself to score the run anymore. Rather, it's about hitters that don't change their approach at all getting rewarded for making contact.

Of course, for anything good to come from not making contact, the defense has to fall apart. The idea that a lead runner won't be retired on a strikeout is absurdly false. In this 2006 game, a triple play was turned when Raul Ibanez took strike three. Sometimes the SABR people get things wrong, and it ignored the fact that nearly the same thing happened in this game in 2002 (you have to scroll down to the Phillies half of the eighth in the play-by-play to find it if you don't remember the game). Indiana University turned a similar triple play in an NCAA Regional game in 2015. Double plays resulting from strikeouts, runners getting caught stealing or being picked off are far more common. You run to stay out of the double play, but the decreased contact has you more frequently running into double plays.

One of the problems with looking at number of overall performance in given situations is that it ignores specific game situations. Isolating numbers takes the game out of context. There is evidence to suggest that increasing strikeouts is increasing the likelihood of double plays, although that has enough variables attached that any definitive conclusion could be debated. Clearly, though, it isn't just a matter of striking out or hitting into a double play, for example. Manny Machado and Jose Abreu tied for grounding into the most double plays in the majors this year and also recorded career highs in strikeouts. Both often had players with some speed on the bases ahead of them and hit more than 30 home runs.

It isn't a matter of doing this or that because these are the odds of success over the course of this or 10, 20 or 50 seasons. Baseball isn't poker or a casino table game where players know the the hard percentages. If you coach your players to become more skilled at doing what is needed in different situations, you are going to outperform the global numbers. Michael Brantley bunted three times this year and had three bunt singles for his effort. He almost hit a home run with two outs in the ninth in the and the typing run deep behind hm in the dugout before he struck out to end the Astros season. His lack of execution in his last at bat, although he had ample company, was more important than the percentage value of his approach.

A strong team that does what it needs to do to win instead of playing the percentages is going to outperform the percentages. Such teams have and can again make percentages irrelevant.
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