Daily Notes, Containing Numbers About Bunting

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of Daily Notes.

1. The Season So Far in Bunting
2. A Philosophical Query: Matt Harvey Versus Diminishing Returns
3. Today’s Notable Games (Including MLB.TV Free Game)
4. Today’s Complete Schedule, Including an Unseemly Copout

The Season So Far in Bunting
People are still bunting! Let’s talk about it a little.

Managers Still Don’t Understand Leverage
Here is a graph displaying all sacrifice bunts in 2012, based on the inning they take place:

Shamefaced edit: Mitch correctly points out a flaw in my methodology, which includes National League pitchers in my data. Given the numbers I used, I have no easy way to remove them, so instead I’ve included here, via hypertextual link, the innings in which AL sacrifice bunts were made.

And Yet People Still Care About Lineup Construction
Here is a graph displaying the WPA of sacrifice bunts by each team in 2012 (click to enlarge):

Worst Sacrifice Bunt of the Year So Far: Alcides Escobar, 6/17/12. Game tied 2-2, top of the 11th, runners on first and third. Escobar bunts hard to first, and Franceour is nailed at home. The Royals go on to win anyway, 5-3, but the bunt is worth -0.23 WPA.

Best Sacrifice Bunt of the Year So Far: Erick Aybar, 5/25/12. Down 4-3 against closer Brandon League in the bottom of the 9th with runners on first and second and no outs, Aybar lays down a sacrifice, with League promptly throws into the seats. Everyone gets two bases and the Angels go on to win 6-4. The bunt, error and all, nets 0.39 WPA.

Sacrifice Bunting Is Not Good For The Economy or Baseball
Total WPA of all 1,435 sacrifice bunts laid down thus far in 2012: -11.1.

A Philosophical Query: Matt Harvey Versus Diminishing Returns

Matt Harvey, who may or may not be the most exciting new figure in New York since Vice President George Clinton, makes his third start today against Human Reference Point Jason Marquis. Though the prospect of watching Mr. Harvey throw baseballs is, admittedly, cause for salivation, one has to worry when the Law of Diminishing Returns will exact its revenge on the young righthander.

Our first experience brought us a splendid fastball, the second a sordid changeup. One wonders whether Harvey can continue to defy our ever-weighty expectations, or if continued greatness will render us jaded. Are all our joys meant to erode into thoughtless repetition? Is it Harvey’s responsibility to entertain us, or ours to be entertained? Before watching the game today, spend a few minutes considering how you might be able to approach Matt Harvey from a new and novel perspective.

Today’s Notable Games

(Note: until Stephen Strasburg either reaches or is freed from his innings cap, all of his starts are treated as unwatchable unless muted.)

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Chicago White Sox of Chicago | 14:10 ET ***MLB.TV Free Game***

This game features two pitchers, in Haren and Liriano, who are theoretically better than their numbers represent. In reality, no person is better than the numbers represent; we are each of us an amalgamation of our deeds, and nothing more. (Note: this may actually not be true.) White Sox fans may learn this the hard way as the heavily discounted Liriano takes the mound, finally free of the expectations of Twins fans, soon to be crushed by the disappointment of Chicagoans. None of us can escape judgment.

Baltimore at Tampa Bay | 13:40 ET

David Price enjoyed the month of July, striking out nearly a third of the batters he faced and holding them to a .548 OPS. The month wasn’t so kind to the Orioles, who posted a tepid .690 OPS over that same span. It’s a mismatch, which means that the Orioles will probably win, because these are the games the Orioles seem to be winning this season.

Actual real quotes about this series, as reported by a major news service, are as follows.

Buck Showalter, on David Price: “He’s good, period.”
Buck Showalter, on Miguel Gonzalez: “I think he’s given us pretty good outings consistently.”
Matt Wieters, on Matt Wieters: “It’s nice to be able to get a hit and RBI.”
David Price, on the inevitability of failure in life: “It stinks any time you lose a game.”

Today’s Complete Schedule, Including an Unseemly Copout
Again I have chosen to flaunt the statistical approach preferred by one Carson Cistulli, if only partially due to the fact that I am too lazy to run the numbers. Instead, today’s schedule will be ranked in terms of the popularity of the starter’s moniker among U.S. baby names for 2012, according to the Social Security website. Meanwhile, team NERD scores are ranked in terms of their city’s “liveability” score by a website I’ve never heard of. Arbitrary, you say? I say existence is arbitrary.

Away   SP Tm. Game Tm. SP   Home Time
Chris Seddon CLE 8 2 5 2 5 DET Max Scherzer 13:05
Hisashi Iwakuma SEA 0 10 3 8 1 NYY Freddy Garcia 13:05
A.J. Burnett PIT 2 4 5 5 9 CIN Homer Bailey 13:10
Trevor Cahill ARI 5 7 3 2 0 PHI Cliff Lee 13:35
Bud Norris HOU 9 5 6 9 2 ATL Kris Medlen 13:35
Ricky Nolasco MIA 6 3 5 6 3 WAS Stephen Strasburg 13:35
Nick Blackburn MIN 7 3 4 6 1 BOS Franklin Morales 13:35
Miguel Gonzalez BAL 5 3 7 10 9 TBR David Price 13:40
Dan Haren LAA 9 7 6 2 4 CHW Francisco Liriano 14:10
Derek Holland TEX 4 9 6 5 8 KCR Luke Hochevar 14:10
Tim Lincecum SFG 5 8 3 4 0 COL Undecided 15:10
Matt Harvey NYM 9 8 8 7 7 SDG Jason Marquis 16:05
Aaron Laffey TOR* 8 9 4 2 0 OAK Tommy Milone 16:05
Justin Germano CHC 7 2 7 5 8 LAD Joe Blanton 16:10
Marco Estrada MIL 3 4 4 4 6 STL Kyle Lohse 20:05

*Cities outside the United States are ranked on the discretion of the author.
To learn more about pitcher and team NERD scores, visit your local library.

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Patrick Dubuque is a wastrel and a general layabout. Many of the sites he has written for are now dead. Follow him on Twitter @euqubud.

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These include the NL, right? Then OF COURSE the number will be higher in the early to middle innings – the NL starting pitchers are still in the game. Try removing pitchers and see what the results look like.