Joe Maddon: “I think the bunt is an overrated play”

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The Rays are having trouble scoring runs. The Joe Maddon-led bunch entered this afternoon’s game with the Red Sox having scored 32 in nine games, the third-worst rate in the American League. The Rays managed just one more run in ten innings against Jon Lester and the Sox bullpen today.

In the top of the ninth inning, the Rays put runners on first and second with no outs. Most managers would bunt in that situation to put two runners in scoring position, but Maddon opted to let James Loney swing away. He eventually struck out, and Yunel Escobar and Ryan Roberts followed up with outs of their own. Asked after the game if he regretted his decision not to bunt, Maddon said:

“For that group of people out there that want guys to bunt all the time, you don’t know the outcome when you choose to do that,” Maddon said, of choosing not to bunt with two runners on base and no outs in the ninth inning, and again following a leadoff double in the 10th. “I think the bunt is an overrated play.”

Using the expected runs matrix at Baseball Prospectus (using 2012 data), runners on first and second with no outs yields 1.44 expected runs, while runners on second and third with one out yields 1.29 expected runs. Theoretically, one would slightly reduce run expectancy by bunting. However, the certainty of scoring that one run goes up. Furthermore, bunting creates a more realistic opportunity for production than letting Loney, who posted a .630 OPS last season, swing away. Though I, like Maddon, think that bunting is overrated in many circumstances, that was not one of those situations.

Masahiro Tanaka released from hospital after taking line drive to head

Masahiro Tanaka line drive
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Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka was hit in the head by a Giancarlo Stanton line drive during a simulated game on Saturday afternoon. He remained on the ground for a while before exiting the field with the help of trainers. He went to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and was released in the evening.

Per James Wagner of The New York Times, Tanaka entered the hospital with concussion-like symptoms but they went away. Tanaka underwent a series of tests, including a CT scan, and checked out fine. The right-hander will still likely undergo MLB’s concussion protocol.

Tanaka, 31, will pitch out of the middle of the Yankees’ rotation behind Gerrit Cole and James Paxton during this shortened 60-game season. Tanaka had an up-and-down 2019 campaign, finishing with a 4.45 ERA, 149 strikeouts, and 40 walks over 182 innings of work. He is entering the final year of his seven-year, $155 million contract, so he may enter free agency after the season.