Snider: Good Bunt Still a Bad Call
Saturday afternoon, having finally sent Rays' ace David Price to the showers, Travis Snider dropped down a terrific bunt off Kyle Farnsworth and appeared to beat the throw to first base, thus loading the bases with none out. The first base umpire saw differently, however. That still left the Jays with the tying run in scoring position and one out, the desired result for a sacrifice bunt.
Problem is, Snider never should have been bunting in the first place.
Down by one run, the play is defensible, but still questionable - you have just three outs to go, why give one up? With a 2-run deficit, a bunt in that spot would be inexcusable if you DIDN'T know the particulars of the game. Once you take them into account, it gets worse.
With 2-on and none out, the scheduled hitters are Travis Snider, John McDonald and Mike McCoy. They are to face the flame-throwing Kyle Farnsworth. Snider is the lone lefty of the bunch, and finally gets to face a right-hander after battling Price all game. He's also clearly the best hitter of the lot, current struggles notwithstanding. Snider is the most likely to deliver an extra base hit, which is precisely what's required to overcome a 2-run deficit in the ninth inning. He's also the most likely to turn around a fastball at escape velocity and win the game outright.
From the Rays' perspective, an inning that began with David Price looking good to complete the game is spiralling out of control, with 4 consecutive runners reaching base and even the still-animated corpse of Juan Rivera collecting a hit.
Maybe Farnsworth gets jittery and starts walking the world - sadly, we'll never know, because Snider dropped down the bunt on the very first pitch he saw. Even if Snider beats out the bunt (officially), you're leaving the inning in the hands of two light-hitting right-handed batters.
I yield to no one in my admiration of John McDonald - and yes, he does seem to be enjoying a late-in-life power spike - but fuzzy images of his walk-off homer the day before aside, he's a .330 lifetime slugger. In 10 minor league seasons, Mike McCoy sports a .367 lifetime slugging percentage. Indeed, neither was able to get the ball out of the infield.
Late in a close game, outs are the most important resource a team has - giving one up for 90 feet on the basepaths is simply too expensive.