Last month we learned that Major League Baseball will be implementing a new extra innings rule aimed at reducing the length of games: each extra inning will start with the batting team placing a runner on second base. The runner, which will be the player who made the final out of the previous inning, is considered to have reached base via error. If he scores, his run will be counted as an unearned run.
When the new extra innings rule was first announced I and many others suspected that it would lead to a sacrifice-bunt-a-rama. That, teams would always try to move the runner over with a bunt, thinking that having a runner on third base with one out would be better than most other scenarios because a run could score on a wild pitch or a sac fly in addition to a base hit. In my own case this belief was bolstered by anecdotal evidence: I’ve been to three minor league extra inning games and in all three of them both the visiting and home team began their respective halves of the tenth with a sac bunt attempt.
As is almost always the case, however, it’s a good idea to set aside conventional wisdom and your own lyin’ eyes when assessing something where there is broader data available. We learn that today via an article from MLB.com’s Mike Petriello, who crunched numbers in an effort to see whether that 10th inning sac bunt is a good idea and whether an increase in bunts would accompany the new extra innings rule.