Of course, such research would be very difficult to do, but I’m not sure it’s even necessary, since it seems as though even Moshe concedes that the Yankees probably lost runs to the sacrifice bunt this year. His conclusion seems to simply be that the effect wasn’t extremely pronounced, though as I said at the beginning of the post, I think that leaves us pretty much where we were yesterday. It might get forgotten at times, but it’s still largely true that managerial decisions don’t move too many wins and losses, so long as we assume a base level of competence and a reasonably high degree of conformity with prevailing strategic wisdom. Still, I’m a little miffed by Moshe’s final sentence:
Taking into account the fact that the actual runs scored was about the same as the number of runs expected, it seems clear that Joe Girardi’s bunting problem was not much of an detriment to the Yankees in 2011.
With all due respect, that’s a pretty meaningless sentence. The Yankees had the best record in their division and the best record in the American League, so even if a bunt had directly cost the Yankees a game, in the strict sense it wasn’t “much of a detriment” to the team, since you don’t get extra credit for a higher margin of victory. By the same token, Jorge Posada‘s decline wasn’t much of a detriment either, but that obviously doesn’t mean that you want to sign him up for 600 plate appearances as the designated hitter in 2012. By the same token, even this analysis concludes that Girardi’s bunting habits are costing the Yankees runs, so they naturally ought to change.