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Joe Girardi's Crucial Mathematical Error Costs Yankees Game

CHICAGO - AUGUST 29: Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees prepares to pitch against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on August 29, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Yankees defeated the White Sox 2-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Jess K. ColemanContributor ISeptember 12, 2010

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.

Welcome to Yankees-Rangers, September 11 (and part of 12), 2010

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. 

E-mail me at jess@jesskcoleman.com, follow me on Twitter and Digg.

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