Joe Girardi's Crucial Mathematical Error Costs Yankees Game
Picture this: a game lasts over four hours, uses 41 players, features 374 pitches, has two blown saves, and ends in a walk-off hit by pitch—by Mariano Rivera.
It was a peculiar game to say the least, and it was no surprise that such an odd game was perpetuated by a series of unorthodox managerial moves. This game featured moves as simple as a pinch hitter, to as questionable as a 3-0 sac bunt.
Back up. A 3-0 sac bunt? In the top of the ninth inning, already leading by one run, the Yankees had a runner on second and nobody out. Eager to get the run in, Yankees manager Joe Girardi called for a sac bunt, even after the count had been worked to 3-0.
As if this doesn’t sound ridiculous enough, it should be pointed out that it was the first sac bunt on a 3-0 count in all of Major League Baseball this season.
Why is it such a ridiculous thing to do, and thus so rare? To start, the league combined has a .413 batting average and a .893 slugging percentage on a 3-0 count, so sac bunting becomes just a waste.
Furthermore, if you look deeper, sac bunting with a runner on second and nobody out not only destroys the at-bat, but also destroys the inning.
Based on run expectancy data collected from 1999-2002, the Yankees had a run expectancy of 1.189 when they had a runner on second and nobody out. After the sac bunt, now with a runner on third and one out, their run expectancy actually decreased to .983.
So, what Girardi thought was helping his team actually sunk them in two ways: he destroyed a great chance to get a hit with a 3-0 count, and he destroyed a great chance to score with a runner on second and nobody out.
Thus, the Yankees failed to score and lost the game in the bottom of the ninth inning.
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