Nobody's out, the tying run is at second, and the A.L.'s leading hitter is at the plate ... bunting? Really?

Andy Behrens

Normally if we're going to write about strategy here, it's strictly fantasy strategy. Adding, dropping, trading...that sort of thing.

There's no point wasting time on what a major league manager should or shouldn't do, because they probably don't read fantasy blogs.

But today, we're going to briefly address a managerial decision that didn't work out -- not for Texas, and not for me. We refer you to comment No. 17 in last night's Closing Time:

Ron Washington is a complete moron. How do you take the bat out of Kinsler's hands and have him bunt? Thanks Ron, thanks for nothing.

To be perfectly fair to Washington, he'd actually been ejected from the game, although he obviously could have been managing remotely, from the Rangers' clubhouse.

In any case, the specific game situation was this: the Rangers were trailing the Angels by one run in the 11th. Brandon Boggs had walked to lead-off the inning. Max Ramirez, who had tied the game in the seventh with a two-run homer, attempted to advance Boggs by bunting. However, an error by Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez allowed Ramirez to reach safely while Boggs took second.

And then All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler stepped to the plate. Kinsler is leading the American League in batting average (.333) and he's seventh in slugging percentage (.544). Earlier in the game, he'd extended his hitting streak to 22 games.

With no one out in the 11th inning and the potential tying run already in scoring position, he too was asked to bunt. This is what Washington later told the Rangers website:

"We were trying to get the winning run to second base."

OK, sure. Winning baseball, sacrificing for the greater good, etc.

Does everyone feel good about that decision? Rangers fans? Kinsler owners? Anyone? Maybe Rodriguez owners don't mind.

It's not like Kinsler has enjoyed great success against K-Rod (1-for-9, 1 BB, 4 K). But Rodriguez had just blown a save the night before, and of course he'd just walked a batter, then committed an error.

If we look at Tom Tango's run expectancy matrix, we'll see that the average number of runs scored from a no-out, runners-on-first-and-second situation is 1.573. (Or at least that was the average from 1999-2002). If Kinsler had succeeded in sacrificing himself and advancing Boggs and Ramirez, the run expectancy leaps to...1.467.

So this is a case where a successful sacrifice appears to yield a slightly worse situation. And, again, Kinsler is a pretty capable hitter.

Of course it was also possible that Kinsler's bunt attempt could've led to another error and a bases-loaded, no-out situation. But you'll recall that having another base-runner wasn't such a big deal. The game was in extra innings with Texas trailing at home by a single run.

Or maybe the bunt attempt goes like this...

Here's what actually happened, from the Yahoo! box score:

- I. Kinsler popped bunt out to pitcher - R. Vazquez struck out looking

- M. Young grounded out to second

There shall be no RBI for the Flaming Moes, and no win for Texas. Good night, everybody.