Game: Oakland at Houston, 2013/4/5 (box, 8-3 Athletics win)
Situation: Top 5, one out, 0-0 count, runners at 1st/3rd, Oakland up 3-0
Pitcher: Xavier Cedeno
Batter: John Jaso
Runner on 3rd: Josh Reddick
Leverage index: 0.97
Win probability added: 3.4%
And the first squeeze of the year is called by . . . Oakland? Team Moneyball is known for their reluctance to play small ball and give away outs. The Houston TV team wondered if affinity for this play (the 1st/3rd squeeze) was brought by Jaso from Tampa. Tampa did finish #2 on the Suicidal Tendencies list last year.
In any case, the squeeze is a rarity by Oakland. Below are the number of sacrifice bunts the A’s have run in the Billy Beane era. After Beane’s conversion to statistical analysis (~2000), the A’s have only been above league in sac hits once, in 2010 (AL average ~35-38 per year).
Only six of those were with a runner on third (scoring runs on all 6). One of those (2008-05-16 vs Atlanta) might not have even been a squeeze with Dana Eveland, a pitcher, at the plate and runners at 1st/3rd. The play was probably just to move the runner from first to second base with the run scoring on a throwing error.
Of course, the best time for a squeeze is when the opposition isn’t expecting it. So perhaps the last 12 years have lulled the league into a false sense of security.
One other note… The A’s executed a safety squeeze at the end of spring training.