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Evan Grant on not bunting in the 9th

Evan Grant has a story up on Inside Corner about last night's game, with some thoughts at length about how the 9th inning played out, along with discussing some other items.

Grant -- like a lot of folks here -- is critical of Ron Washington for not doing something after Marlon Byrd doubled in the 9th to move Byrd over to third base.  The consensus from reading the comments is that the majority of folks here think that Byrd should have been bunted over.

I disagree. 

You bunt in that situation so that you can score on an out and not necessarily a hit...however, you only have one out to score the runner from third.  The question becomes, are you more likely to get a hit (or do something to get the runner home) from second base with one of the two guys who are coming up, or are you more likely to 1) get the bunt down successfully, and 2) get the runner home with an out.

Obviously, you aren't going to have Chris Davis bunt.  Your bench consists of Elvis Andrus, Brandon Boggs, Taylor Teagarden, and Andruw Jones, so presumably, if you are going to bunt, you are going to send Andrus up there to do it.

Now...what are the chances that Andrus successfully gets down a bunt and moves the runner over?  60%?  75%?  I can't imagine it is any higher than 75%, and even that may be on the high side.

And Andrus, as you saw from the chart below, has been terrible this month, so if he gets two strikes on him and has to hit away, the chances of him getting a hit in that situation probably aren't any better than the chances of Davis getting a hit. 

Then you've got Jarrod Saltalamacchia coming up after Davis or Andrus, whomever you hit.  Let's assume you get the bunt down and advance Byrd to third still have to get him home.  And for the purposes of our discussion, we are looking at just getting him home with an out, because while a hit doesn't get the runner home from second guaranteed, it is a likely outcome.

Salty, though, strikes out a ton.  He's struck out in over a third of his plate appearances, and of his 131 ABs that have resulted in something other than a hit, 67 of them -- over half -- have ended in a K.

63% of Salty's ABs end in a hit or a K.  Bunting the runner over doesn't help you in either of those outcomes.  And while the assumption is that with a runner on third, any ball in play will score the runner, a pop-up is useless, and a grounder is a dicey proposition.

I think the chances of Chris Davis -- or Andruw Jones, or Brandon Boggs, or Elvis Andrus, if you want to hit for Davis -- either getting a hit or getting the runner over to third with an out are greater than the chances of Salty getting the runner home from third base on an out. 

If you've got a guy coming up who puts the ball in play a ton, it might make sense to bunt Byrd over to third in that situation.  But it doesn't make sense to bunt a runner over for a guy who strikes out in over a third of his PAs and in over half of the outs he makes. 

And thus, I think Ron Washington made the right call in not bunting.