Why bunt, or not bunt, Saturday

Meant to post this last night, but didn’t get it online: There were two potential bunting situations that received no shortage of scrutiny last night. The decisions were different in the fifth and 13th innings, but the general idea was the same: Try to get two hitters going in the middle of the order by putting them in situations where they know they can succeed.

The first came in the fifth inning, after Austin Jackson drew a leadoff walk. Leyland opted to have Will Rhymes lay down a sacrifice bunt and move Jackson to second, knowing full well that it would leave first base open for the Indians to intentionally walk Miguel Cabrera two batters later.

Leyland did it anyway, because he wanted to create an RBI situation for Magglio Ordonez, his slumping third hitter.

“I’m trying to get Magglio going,” Leyland said. “If Magglio gets a base hit, they can’t walk Cabrera, because [first] base is occupied.”

It goes back to something Leyland said earlier this weekend: If they can’t get production out of Ordonez, it’s going to be tough for them to win. They can put somebody in his place, but they don’t have an obvious candidate to replace his production.

The worst-case scenario Saturday was to bring Boesch, one of their best hitters in April, to the plate with two runners on and two outs. That’s what happened, of course, and Boesch flew out to end the threat on his way to an 0-for-6 night.

The question with Boesch in the 13th was whether to have him bunt once Cabrera led off the inning with a double. It would’ve created a sac fly opportunity for Ryan Raburn, whose fly ball to deep center would’ve driven in a run.

The problem there is two-fold. First, Boesch has one sac bunt in his pro career, majors and minors. To ask him to do it in that situation is a risk. Second, the Tigers didn’t have an obvious option off the bench to lay down a bunt, since they already used Ramon Santiago as a pinch-hitter for Will Rhymes. Don Kelly was the one guy left on the bench with sac bunt experience, and it isn’t as extensive as one might think, having laid down four bunts at Triple-A Toledo.

8 Comments

Here is what I have to say, to Mr. Leyland. How can guys in the major leagues not know how to bunt, and if they don’t then teach them! Demand that they know how to play fundamental baseball. There is only one person on this team that right now I would not ask them to bunt and that is Miggy. Thats it.

We just didn’t show any patience at the plate,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said????
“I heard Cal Ripken Jr. ask [Detroit Tigers manager] Jim Leyland on the air about this same subject this past weekend and Jim was very adamant against taking the good pitches early in the count and swinging at the bad ones, getting themselves out later in the count. ”

http://www.cbc.ca/sports/baseball/barfield/2008/06/the_sweetest_swing_in_baseball.html

I considered Boesch bunting in the 13th inning, for about half a second. These guys don’t have that skill these days. Actually, I don’t often have an issue with JL’s in-game decisions, just every now and then. My issue with him is in personnel selection and game preparation.
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You know……..if you did tell Miggy to bunt, he’d probably lay down a beauty. That guy is some kind of smart hitter.

When will the Tigers realize Mclendon is a terrible hitting coach.
Every year some young hitter struggles and you see no improvement unless they send them down to the minors for help.
Guys like Cabrera no how to hit. As well as Ordonez and maybe age has finally caught up to him. But last year Boesch got no help. This year Jackson struggled in spring and it’s continued into the regular season.
One more thing. Polanco is having another great season. 2nd base has been a hole since he left. Wish he never left.

Regarding Polanco, you wonder if this organization ever considered using him at third base. That would have required some thinking outside the box. They keep hoping somehow Inge will regain the form from 06 when he hit 27 hr. That’s not gonna happen. Meanwhile, Polly just keeps putting up the numbers.

Bottom line is they should have been bunting in both situations, especially in the 13th. The argument that you don’t have anyone to bunt in that situation is ridiculous, but if you are going to stick to that than Dombrosky is an idiot for puting a team together that has no one to come off the bench late in games to do the obvious. Of course no one has bunting experience on this team. It is never utilized , by one of the most over rated managers of all time!

Now it’s Sunday, 8th inning, Kelly on 2nd, Cabby on 1st, Boesch up. Again no bunt attemp and strikes out. Rayburn singles the bases loaded instead of Kelly in, Cabrera to 3rd. Avila, sac fly scores Kelly instead of Cabby for 2nd run. If Boesch (and I love him) is going to be the “total” player he can be, he needs to expand his knowledge with the bunt.

What I have seen so far on here is the ‘if I were manager for a day’ stuff. Ok….I’ll bite…I would bunt someone if the situation called for it regardless of who is up there to do the bunting. It is a skill and is both teachable and easily learned. As manager part of my job is to embarass the crap out of players who get paid big money to have a learned skill set, not coddle them into lazyness. I want to win and if I have players that are lazy…I don’t want them anyhow.

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