Was it good small-ball strategy? Was it horribly giving away a valuable out? Let's figure it out!
The logic behind having Alex Presley bunt is that it moves the tying run into scoring position. And, per baseball conventional wisdom, "at home you play for the tie."
But what is the likelihood of the Pirates tying the game with Chase d'Arnaud at the plate, runners on second and third, and one out?
d'Arnaud is hitting .225. However, a single doesn't automatically tie the game, because Matt Diaz isn't exactly a speedster - in his career, he's scored from second on a single only 56% of the time. Furthermore, 7 of d'Arnaud's singles were infield singles, on which Diaz will not score. So the chance of d'Arnaud tying the game is the chance of him hitting a single to the outfield times 56%, plus the chance of d'Arnaud hitting a double or triple. Seeing as how d'Arnaud has never homered in the majors, and homered only 18 times in 1567 minor league PAs, I'm disregarding that possibility.
d'Arnaud has 15 singles, 4 doubles, and 1 triple in 94 PAs. 7 were infield singles and one a bunt single, so 50% of d'Arnaud's non-bunt singles were infield singles on which Diaz will not score, and 50% were outfield singles on which he will score 56% of the time.
15/94 * .5 * .56 = 4.47% chance of d'Arnaud singling and Diaz scoring.
5/94 = 5.32% chance of d'Arnaud doubling or tripling (on which we assume Diaz scores).
So after a successful sacrifice bunt, there's about a 9.8% chance of d'Arnaud tying the game. Is a 10% chance worth giving up an out by taking the bat out of your hottest hitter's hands? You be the judge.
If Presley doesn't bunt, there are a range of possible outcomes:
So basically, by not having Presley bunt, you have about a 40% chance of an outcome better than a successful sacrifice bunt. You have about a 33% chance of an outcome the same as a successful sac bunt, and about a 22% chance of an outcome the same as an unsuccessful sac bunt. And you have about a 6% chance of a worse outcome than an unsuccessful sac bunt.
To me, the upside outweighs the downside. Again, you be the judge.
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