The Indians attempted to sacrifice bunt 46 times

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    From silly to infuriating , here is a comedy of errors” in 2018. In some cases, the player that attempted the bunt successfully sacrificed the runner over. You shouldn’t celebrate these too much; sacrifice bunts — including those that resulted in an error or a single — still cost the Indians 5.45 runs according to RE24 in 2018. They were worth -.81 WPA. No traditional sacrifice bunts increased the Indians’ chances of winning per WPA.What I plan to examine today are the times that Indians players squared up a sacrifice and blew it, ranked in ascending order of shame the hitter likely felt when leaving the batter’s box.May 8th – Corey KluberSituation: 1 out, runners on first and second, top of the second inning, Indians trail 0-2Kluber squared up and doinked the ball right to the pitcher, who caught it and picked off Guyer at second base. Double play.This is a terrible bunt, but it is the least harrowing simply because Kluber is a pitcher in the American League and attempts a bunt about as often as I actually hit my daily call quota.Result: WPA -.9, RE24 -.9, Indians lose 2-3September 9th – Erik GonzalezSituation: 0 out, runner on second base, bottom of the second inning, Indians lead 2-0Gonzalez popped the first pitch from Blake Snell straight up into the air. The catcher converted the out and snickered. Result: -.03 WPA, RE24 -.45, Indians eventually lost 3-5April 30th – Roberto PerezSituation: 0 out, runner on first, bottom of the 8th inning, Indians losing 3-4Roberto Perez couldn’t do anything at the plate in the beginning of the year. Or the middle. Or the end. Anyway, this game gets a discount for happening in April and being by a catcher. He popped a bunt foul that the catcher ran down. Result: WPA -.09, RE23 -.37May 15th – Greg AllenSituation: 0 out, runners on first and second, top of the sixth inning, Indians lead 5-3Allen laid down the bunt, but it rolled to Zac Reininger who rushed from the mound and dispatched of the lead runner at third. Everyone loves a free out.Result: -.04 WPA, -.59 RE24, Indians eventually lose 8-9May 6th – Greg AllenSituation: 0 out, runners on first and second, top of the 8th inning, Indians lead 1-0Allen popped up a 1-1 pitch from Jonathan Holder in front of home. With Gary Sanchez catching this may have been a clever strategy to reach via error, but it did not work. Result: -.05 WPA, 0.59 RE24, Indians eventually lose 4-7July 15th – Roberto PerezSituation: 0 out, runner on first, bottom of the 7th inning, game tied 2-2Perez rolled a bunt directly to Masahiro Tanaka. He threw toward first and traded a strike for an out. Result: -.05 WPA, -.37 RE24, Indians eventually win 5-2June 3rd – Greg AllenSituation: Greg Allen is at the plate I dunno guys we better bunt lol, Indians lead 4-3I understand why it’s appealing to have Greg Allen sacrifice bunt: He’s allegedly good at it, and his speed opens up the possibility of a hit or error instead of an out. He attempted nine sacrifices in 2018, and only one of them was a net positive by either WPA or RE24 — a single. His only other bunt attempt resulted in a single. In this particular instance he bunted to move Yan Gomes from second to third, but the catcher scooped it up and eliminated the lead runner. Yay.Result: Indians lose 5-7May 11th – Jason KipnisSituation: 0 out, runners on first and second, bottom of the 4th inning, Indians trail 3-4Kipnis doinked one right in front of home plate, and the lead runner was nabbed at third. Result: WPA -.07 Kenny Lofton Jersey , RE24 -.59, Indians lose 9-10September 7th – Rajai DavisSituation: 0 out, runners on first and second, top of the 11th, tied 2-2Look: I understand that it’s a tie game and you only need one run. A successful sacrifice here is the one situation in which you actually raise the chance to score a single run (at the expense of scoring multiple). The caveat to that is a below average hitter is at the plate (check) and there are no better options on the bench. The Indians had a 70% chance of winning the game at this point, anyway, and notice that this game happened right after September callups. Here is a list of hitters that Francona might have deployed instead:Yandy DiazEric HaaseErik GonzalezI don’t have any idea why you don’t hit Diaz here, but I honestly like any of these options better than Rajai at the plate, and bunting in particular. Rajai failed to perform another legendary slug bunt and rolled into a forceout at third base. Nothing like a free out in extra innings.Result: WPA -.12, RE24 -.58, Indians lose 3-2June 9th – Lonnie ChisenhallSituation: 0 out, runners on first and second, top of the 11th, tied 2-2I hate everything about this bunt. One, it’s a Chisenbunt and we had precious little time to enjoy Lonnie this season before his calves betrayed him. Two, Chisenhall is a good hitter! Why? Why would you do this? Chisnehall popped up to the catcher. Result: WPA -.12, RE24 -.58, Indians lose 2-4August 13th – Greg AllenSituation: 0 out, runners on second and third, top of the fourth inning, Indians lead 2-1The Indians attempted a squeeze play. Allen bunted a weak line drive toward the second baseman which Home Bailey gloved. If that isn’t bad enough, the reason the runners were on second and third is because Bailey balked. They started the inning with a Kipnis single, then Yan Gomes reached on an error. Before a pitch was even thrown to the third batter the Indians had runners on second and third.After Allen’s bunt attempt, Mike Clevigner struck out (they were in Cincy), Francisco Lindor walked, and Michael Brantley grounded out. This turn of events changed the Indians’ win expectancy from 76% to 58%. Result: -.05 WPA, -.58 RE24, the worst use of a balk ever, Indians still win 10-3April 29th – Bradley ZimmerSituation: 0 out, runner on first, bottom of the first, game tied 0-0Francisco Lindor led the game off with a walk, and Bradley Zimmer followed. Marco Gonzalez pitched, Francisco Lindor broke for second, and Zimmer bunted. The ball blooped to a charging Kyler Seager, who gunned it to first and picked off Lindor. Momentum sucks anyway, right guys?Result: -.07 WPA, -.81 RE24September 19th – Melky CabreraSituation: 0 out, runners on first and second, bottom of the ninth, Indians trail 0-1Terry Francona told a dude who hit .309/.356/.485 against lefties to drop a sacrifice bunt against a lefty in the bottom of the ninth with the Indians trailing by one. Making matters worse, he hadn’t attempted a bunt all season, and only five total in the previous three years.Why, god? Why?This bunt was largely forgotten because Jason Kipnis won the game on a full count with two outs and the bases loaded. If not for that, I think we would have discussed this decision at length. No manager is perfect , but decisions like this one make me wonder about Francona sometimes.The leverage index here was 6.03 to give an idea of how much this affected the game despite it being “hidden” by Kipnis’s bomb. There were fewer than a dozen at-bats more significant to the outcome of a game in 2018; two of them were the Tribe’s next two at-bats. Interestingly, three more came in the next two games — the Indians lost both. Talk about a tense few days of baseball. Result: WPA -.19. Notice that this is nearly one quarter of the Indians total WPA value from the season. This was a really, really bad bunt. RE24 .59. Indians still win in style 4-1 because Jason Kipnis reads magazines or something.Some additional numbersIn games that featured a sacrifice bunt attempt, the Indians went 30-16. In games that featured a failed sacrifice bunt, the Indians went 4-9. Don’t screw up your bunts, kids.Greg Allen is the worst offender on the roster from 2018. Screwing up almost half of your bunt attempts is terrible. Please stop bunting, Greg.For all of the complaining we do about Lindor squaring up instead of swinging away, at least he didn’t screw any of them up. His sacrifice attempts were actually a net positive in WPA for the season, largely because one of them resulted in an error.Roberto Perez attempted a sacrifice ten times in 2018, the highest total on the roster. None of them gave the Indians a better chance to win the game according to WPA.Why on Earth did you just write 1,515 words about sacrifice bunts?I mean, the alternative was doing real work on the Thursday before Christmas. I imagine your reason for reading them is the same. Bad is not the worst thing. Something else is.”Maybe you’ve forgotten, but 2011 was hype. It was basically prospect Christmas all season. That year, a ridiculous number of promising young players made their big league debut for the Kansas City Royals, including Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Johnny Giavotella, Salvador Perez, Danny Duffy, Tim Collins, Aaron Crow, Louis Coleman, and Kelvin Herrera; it also featured the Royals debut of Alcides Escobar, the full-season coming out party for Greg Holland, and the first semi-regular appearances for Jarrod Dyson.However, the 2011 Royals were the baseball equivalent of a middle age man earnestly dabbing for the on-ride camera on a roller coaster; in other words, it was just a colossal failure. That team lost 91 games. Somehow, though, Royals fans didn’t care—at least not very much. Why? Because there was direction. There was hope. It was liberating: in 2011 fans could enjoy meaningful baseball based on the direction and potential of the team regardless of the win-loss records.The dirty secret of Major League Baseball is that losing is a fact of baseball for rebuilding teams. With that being said, teams in the midst of a rebuilding cycle can decide how to do so. The 2019 Royals are embarrassing. That’s unacceptable. But it’s not because the Royals are losing; rather, it’s how they are losing the games. After a 104-loss season, it wasn’t feasible for fans to expect a playoff berth. Fans, though, could very well expect an improvement over last year both in record and in kind of play.They haven’t gotten either. At every turn, Dayton Moore and Ned Yost have decided to cede playing time to and make roster decisions in favor of awful veterans. They’ve played favorites, and have not done so with regard to either performance or potential. This is the crux of the issue.Of particular note is the utter mediocrity of the veterans who they chose to play. This year, the Royals are paying Martin Maldonado, Chris Owings, Lucas Duda, Billy Hamilton, Wily Peralta, Brad Boxberger, Jake Diekman a combined $17.7 million. The Royals are paying another $2.5 million in buyouts next year, totaling a final payout of over $20 million for those seven players. Unfortunately, those players aren’t very good. Wins Above Replacement isn’t a perfect and untouchable method of player evaluation , but it’s great for rough estimates. ‘Rough’ is the exact word one would use to describe the group’s 2018 performances. Listed below is each player’s 2018 WAR per Baseball Reference:Maldonado: 0.5 WAROwings: -0.2 WARHamilton: 0.3 WARDuda: 0.4 WARDiekman: 0.0 WARPeralta: 0.4 WARBoxberger: -0.7 WARTOTAL: 0.3 WARAh yes, $20+ million for a group of vets that played at collective replacement level the previous year. Fantastic use of resources, guys. Well done. You could make a strong argument that Maldonado was necessary after Salvador Perez’s injury, and I’d buy that considering the minor league guys in the upper minors. But then, you’d be looking at $18+ million for six players who played at under replacement level the previous year, which is…what’s a good word? I’ll let you fill that in for yourself.**Are you wondering why I didn’t put Homer Bailey on this list? That’s because he’s making the league minimum. That’s a good vet signing! Owings and Co.? Not so much.The truly astonishing thing about the Royals approach this season is that it’s a mega onion where each layer is terrible and stinks of microwaved tuna in the office break room and a little bit of depression. Sure, I could pursue the line of questioning about the lack of value per dollar, but then I get distracted when I realize that Moore, without engineering any major trades or signings, believed that the team would be good:And, yes, you could pursue this relatively batshit line of reasoning and try to parse out if Moore meant this or if he’s just lying or what the point of interviews are if you can’t trust anybody on the team. But then, I’m distracted because I remember that the roster construction is so extremely screwy that it might as well be in the drawer of a carpenter: Your backup outfielder (Terrance Gore) has 0 starts and 1 stolen baseYour backup first baseman (Frank Schwindel) has started two gamesYour secondary backup first baseman (Duda) isn’t playing against right-handed hitters, in part because…you already have a left-handed first baseman (Ryan O’Hearn) who is clearly the best of the three andyour best right-handed bat (Jorge Soler) is a natural DH andyour primary backup infielder (Owings) is playing every day for…reasons?And, yes, I could pursue this questioning, until I again realize that, woah, this whole thing would have been way easier if, you know, the Royals just kept Rosell Herrera and Brian Goodwin at the league minimum. A rebuilding club with two MLB-quality (if perhaps not particularly high-quality) players passed to offer guarantee contracts to bad players in Duda and Owings.There are other avenues to examine, such as why Cam Gallagher has made only one start so far, or why there are three Triple-A relievers that are probably just as good as what they have now (Josh Staumont Michael Ynoa, Richard Lovelady) are pitching in Omaha, or why the Royals demoted Kyle Zimmer after clearly liking him enough to start on the opening day roster understanding his limitations and potential struggles, or why the Royals haven’t signed Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel if they intended to compete.I guess it doesn’t matter. We’re not seeing anything new here. The Royals front office has a compulsion to do something, anything, whenever the team is deficient of talent at the big league level. Moore has been in charge long enough that we’re seeing the same patterns from the first rebuild.A thousand words ago, I mentioned the 2011 season. The 2019 season ain’t it. This is 2009, when the Royals signed a veteran center fielder for stability (Coco Crisp), acquired a veteran first baseman nobody else wanted (Mike Jacobs), signed a few veteran relievers who were awful the year before (Kyle Farnsworth and Jamey Wright), and played a random gritty white dude everyday when he was more suited for Triple-A (Willie Bloomquist).Replace those names with Hamilton, Duda, Diekman, Boxberger, and Owings, respectively. It isn’t any different.I’ve more or less lost hope that Moore and the rest of the front office can learn from their mistakes. They haven’t. They won’t. When you win a World Series, you tend to think your process is impenetrable. And, again, it’s not necessarily about the losses. They happen, especially for small market teams that are rebuilding. But you can choose not to proclaim to the Kansas City Star that you expect to win the division when you know you won’t. And you can certainly do things to make your team not embarrassing. Anything less than that is an insult to fans who’ve sat through only four winning seasons within the last 23 years. We’ve seen ‘acceptable veterans.’ That’s not what we’re looking for.

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