The squeeze of the week has to be Thursday’s safety by the Diamondbacks in extra innings at Washington. With runners at the corners and one out, Didi Gregorius dragged a pitch on the outside corner with him up the first base line. The bunt was perfectly placed, giving the Nationals no chance to catch A.J. Pollock racing home from third, and Gregorius beat the play at first. At a leverage index of 5.4, this was the most critical situation that a squeeze has been run this season. The play increased the D-backs win expectancy by 18%, tying the highest positive WPA in 2013.
Updated season leaders (full list)
Game: Arizona vs. Philadelphia, 2013/5/9 (box, 2-1 Diamondbacks win)
Situation: Bottom 6, one out, 0-0 count, runners at 1st/3rd, Arizona ahead 1-0
Pitcher: Cole Hamels
Batter: Gerardo Parra
Runner on 3rd: Cody Ross
Leverage index: 1.7
Win probability added: +3.2%
For his career, Ryan Howard has cost his teams about 25 runs in the field over ~1100 games according to Fangraphs (Baseball Reference has him at -40 runs for his career). Defensively, he’s like the negative Doug Mientkiewicz. The amount that people thought that Doug Mientkiewicz was good playing at first base, Ryan Howard is bad at playing first base (Mientkiewicz’s numbers: Fangraphs +28 runs fielding, BR -40 runs fielding). My point, other than ragging on Ryan Howard’s defensive ability, is that Gerardo Parra is pretty smart when it comes to where to bunt on a safety squeeze.
Game: Arizona at Los Angeles Dodgers, September 2 (box, 5-4 Dodgers win)
Situation: Top 7, one out, 0-2 count, runners at 1st/3rd, Arizona up 4-2
Pitcher: Shawn Tolleson
Batter: Wade Miley
Runner on 3rd: Miguel Montero
Leverage index: 1.2
Win probability added: -4.6%
A moment hesitation and you’re out…
Dandy Squeeze Score (what’s this?): -1 (-1, fail)
Game: Arizona at Houston, August 17 (box, 3-1 Diamondbacks win)
Situation: Top 5, one out, 0-0 count, runners at 1st/3rd, game tied 0-0
Pitcher: Dallas Keuchel
Batter: Wade Miley
Runner on 3rd: Gerardo Parra
Leverage index: 2.5
Win probability added: +3.4%
Big game for Miley, striking out five over 6 IP and laying down a nice safety squeeze to open the scoring.
Dandy Squeeze Score (what’s this?): +2 (+1, success; +1, tie game)
Leverage index: 1.5
Win probability added: +5.2%
Credit Maybin on the play for a decisive break to the plate and for being a fast guy. The Padres color guy describes this as a “perfect” bunt, but it looks pretty straight to me. I don’t think a slower runner scores on this bunt. I bet Bauer agrees, because he thought there might be a play at home. His peek toward the plate caused the error.
Dandy Squeeze Score (what’s this?): +2 (+1, success; +1, batter reaches base)