Ron Washington defended the bunt when questioned earlier this year. The bunt has payed big dividends and been an essential cog in the wheel that has been Wash's Rangers recent success. Arguably the most prolific bunter in the line-up, Elvis Andrus, is in the No. 2 spot behind the oft on base Shin Soo Choo. Andrus' ability to bunt combined with Choo OBP could call for even more bunts signs coming from the 3rd base coach with Andrus in the box. We saw this first hand last night. Twice Andrus bunted with Choo on first base, and twice Choo scored. That may not be the case in a 14-10 contest like we saw in the opener, but in the 3-2 games, it turned out to be crucial.
With that said, Wash mentioned upon being questioned about his line-up structure that the new Big Man in the line-up would hit third. Prince Fielder has always played the role of "Protector" to back to back MVP Miguel Cabrera and MVP Ryan Braun prior to that. Wash expressed his desire that now he be given the opportunity to be the "Protectee". Having the almost inhuman Adrian Beltre hitting behind him would be the perfect recipe for that protector-protectee relationship. Fielder's big left hand upper cut swing looks like it was designed for Globe Life Ballpark so getting him pitches to hit would no doubt increase the run production of an offense that was inconsistent to say the least a season ago. Wash cited Beltre's struggles in the No. 3 spot and his production in the clean-up spot, and the previously mentioned "protection" theory when faced with line-up questions and it all made perfect sense.
How could it not!!! Right?
See paragraph one.
Choo getting on base and Andrus doing the sacrificing opens first base. It worked out great last night obviously, but in the future this gives opposing managers the ability to pick their poison, but not in the way the protector/protectee roles are supposed to work. Power Lefty followed by a clutch and powerful righty with first base open allows the opposing manager to choose the strength of their bullpen. They are able to play the percentages, tendencies and hot streaks to their benefit. Not necessarily into their favor, but getting to choose which slugger to pitch to along with which guy to use out of your pen leaves the opposition with options to at least edge the scale back toward even.
I am curious to see as the season progresses how Washington will use the bunt with Choo and Andrus as well as the factors that go into that decision.