Terry Francona would like Francisco Lindor to stop sacrifice bunting so much

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Francisco Lindor had a great debut for the Indians last season, hitting .313 in 99 games on the way to finishing runner-up in the Rookie of the Year voting. He also led the league with 13 sacrifice bunts despite not being called up until mid-June and … well, manager Terry Francona thinks that’s probably too much bunting for a guy who can hit so well.

Lindor laid down a sacrifice bunt in the first inning Monday and afterward Francona discussed the topic with reporters, telling Zack Meisel of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

I love the fact that he wants to move runners. I absolutely love it. … At the same time, he’s such a good hitter, that you don’t want him to just give away outs. But I’ve been really reluctant to approach him on it, because I like the idea so much that he’s trying to do the right thing.

I’m not sure anybody who’s hitting in [the No. 2] spot, we’re going to want them to give themselves up too much. Whether it’s [Jason] Kip[nis] or whoever it is, those are your best hitters. Whether you have a runner on third with one out or a runner on second with nobody out, your chances of scoring are pretty good. Sometimes your chances of scoring more than one are better if you just let them play.

Lindor is taking a very old-school approach to moving runners over and sacrificing yourself for the good of the team, except a hitter of his caliber doing that isn’t really helping the team because the Indians’ run expectancy goes down when he gives up an out to move a runner over one base. The numbers on this topic are pretty straightforward and have been for decades.

In other words, if there’s a runner or two on base when Lindor comes to the plate the Indians will almost always be better off if he simply tries to drive them in himself. His choosing to bunt them up a base instead isn’t exactly the end of the world and, as Francona points out, it’s a nice sentiment from a young player, but at some point the manager will hopefully convince one of the best young players in the league to let ‘er rip.

Tony Clark: among players, the universal DH “is gaining momentum”

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Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark met the press late this morning and covered a wide array of topics.

One of them: free agency, which he referred to as being “under attack” based on the slow market for free agents last offseason.

“What the players saw last offseason was that their free-agent rights were under attack on what has been the bedrock of our system,” Clark said. He added that they “have some very difficult decisions to make.” Presumably in the form of grievances and, down the road, a negotiating strategy that seeks to claw back some of the many concessions the union has given owners in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. CBAs, it’s worth noting, that Clark negotiated. We’ve covered that territory in detail in the past.

Of more immediate interest was Clark’s comment that the idea of a universal designated hitter is, among players, “gaining momentum.” Clark says “players are talking about it more than they have in the past.” We’ve talked a lot about that as well.

Given that hating or loving the DH is the closest thing baseball has to a religion, no one’s mind is going to be changed by any of this, but I think, practically speaking, it’s inevitable that the National League will have the DH and I think it happens relatively soon. Perhaps in the next five years. The opposition to it at this point is solely subjective and based on tradition. People like pitchers batting and they like double switches and they like the leagues being different because they, well, like it. If the system were being set up today, however, they’d never have it this way and I think even the DH-haters know that well. That doesn’t mean that you can’t dislike a universal DH, but it does mean that you can’t expect the people who run the game to cater to that preference when it makes little sense for them to do it for their own purposes.

Anyway: enjoy convincing each other in the comments about how the side of that argument you dislike is wrong.