The hit and run play: is it worth it?

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The hit and run play: when it works and the batter pokes a single through the right side of the infield resulting in runners on the corners and nobody out, boy, it’s a thing of friggin’ beauty.  When it doesn’t and results in a strike-em-out/throw-em-out double play it’s the most maddening thing on the planet.

But does it work? In the aggregate, I mean?

That’s the question Mike Fast of Baseball Prospectus attempted to answer. And he does so with a thoroughness that is pretty damn breathtaking.

Be warned, though: if you’re the sort of person who glazes over when confronted with graphs and charts and things, you may just want to scroll to the conclusion.  Which, wouldn’t you know it, is full of nuance and complexity, just like everything else worth knowing in life:

The hit-and-run is far from the worst play in baseball. For a small-ball tactic, it has been quite successful over the past nine seasons, increasing scoring by .06 runs per attempt on average … However, there are some situations where the hit-and-run attempt made less sense and was a barely positive or even a net negative play—with the fourth and fifth hitters in the lineup up, with one out, or in the popular ball-strike count of 2-1.

I suppose that won’t stop the old school guys from thinking it’s the best thing ever and the stat guys from thinking it’s the worst thing ever. But hey, there’s fun in that stuff too.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. named ALCS MVP

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Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series after his club punched its ticket to the World Series on Thursday night against the Astros.

Coincidentally, the Astros’ Game 5 starter Justin Verlander was ALCS MVP last year en route to a championship.

Bradley went 0-for-3 with a walk in Thursday’s Game 5, but he hit a three-run double in Game 2, a grand slam in Game 3, and a go-ahead two-run home run in Game 4. That’s nine RBI and three extra-base hits across five games. He also drew four walks.

Though Bradley had a solid regular season, he was not near the top of the list most people would’ve expected to win ALCS MVP heading into the series. During the season, he hit .234/.314/.403 with 13 home runs, 59 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 17 stolen bases in 535 plate appearances.