Game: Cincinnati at Miami, September 15 (box, 6-4 Marlins win)
Situation: Bottom 4, one out, 2-0 count, runners at 1st/3rd, Miami up 3-2
Pitcher: Johnny Cueto
Batter: Mark Buehrle
Runner on 3rd: Donovan Solano
Leverage index: 1.8
Win probability added: -7.0%
Calling this a fail really isn’t fair to the Marlins. The bunt could have been a little less straight, and Solano could have been a little more aggressive, but what you see here is Cueto define being “a gazelle off the mound.”
Dandy Squeeze Score (what’s this?): -1 (-1, fail)
Game: Miami at Milwaukee, September 3 (box, 7-3 Marlins win)
Situation: Bottom 4, one out, 0-1 count, runners at 1st/3rd, game tied 2-2
Pitcher: Mike Fiers
Batter: Ricky Nolasco
Runner on 3rd: Rob Brantly
Leverage index: 2.4
Win probability added: +8.6%
If Fiers fields the bunt cleanly, he probably nails Brantly at the plate. He might have had enough time to field it traditionally and underhand flip it to the plate instead of going for the stylish glove flip.
Dandy Squeeze Score (what’s this?): +3 (+1, success; +1, tie game; +1, batter reaches safely)
Game: Miami at Colorado, August 16 (box, 5-3 Rockies win)
Situation: Bottom 7, one out, 0-0 count, runner at 3rd, Colorado up 4-3
Pitcher: Ricky Nolasco
Batter: Eric Young
Runner on 3rd: Josh Rutledge
Leverage index: 1.3
Win probability added: +5.1%
I’ve watched this play several times, and I can’t say definitively that this is a safety squeeze. It looks like Rutledge is running on the pitch. The announcers call it a safety squeeze, so I’ll go with that, but we’ll say Rutledge got an aggressive break on the play.
The announcers also reference the notion that squeeze plays are most often called on the first pitch of a plate appearance. We’ll revisit this, but a quick peek at the data doesn’t exactly back the statement up. In my list for 2012, there were 43 squeeze plays called on the first pitch, 43 called on the second pitch, and 34 on later pitches. Of course, for plate appearances that end on pitches 2 or later, the squeeze might have been called for the first pitch but the first pitch didn’t result in a squeeze (foul or batter didn’t offer). At the very least, the claim that squeeze plays are most often called on the first pitch is dubious. Over the offseason I look at this again more carefully.
Another caveats: This only includes plays that ended in a bunt attempt and a few, but probably not all, busted suicide squeeze where the runner scored or was tagged out. E.g., if there was a foul ball on the first pitch, and then the squeeze was taken off for the rest of the plate appearance, those cases are not included. This probably doesn’t happen too often, but I can’t say for sure.
Dandy Squeeze Score (what’s this?): +3 (+1, success; +1, suicide; +1, right-handed pitcher)
Game: Los Angeles Dodgers at Miami, August 11 (box, 7-3 Marlins win)
Situation: Bottom 5, one out, 1-0 count, runners at 1st/3rd, 2-2 tie game
Pitcher: Joe Blanton
Batter: Gorkys Hernandez
Runner on 3rd: John Buck
Leverage index: 2.7
Win probability added: +4.9%
It’s past the pitcher, and with the second baseman shaded up the middle, the first baseman has to cover the bag, ensuring the run to score.
Dandy Squeeze Score (what’s this?): +2 (+1, success; +1, tie game)
Game: Miami at Washington, August 4 (box, 10-7 Nationals win)
Situation:Top 7, one out, 1-1 count, runners at 1st/3rd, Miami up 5-4
Pitcher: Ryan Mattheus
Batter: Donovan Solano
Runner on 3rd: Jose Reyes
Leverage index: 2.1
Win probability added: +4.4%
Solano is the Marlins utility guy. When you’re a 24 year old and already marked as a utility guy, you better bring something else to the table. Like executing awesome safety squeeze plays late in one-run ballgames.
Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen calls for some unusual baserunning, sending the runner on first, Greg Dobbs, with the pitch. There’s little upside to the bunt-and-run. If the bunt is on the ground, Dobbs will make it to second whether he’s running with the pitch or not. If it’s bunted in the air, the Nationals will probably turn a double play. The one advantage would be if the second baseman goes to cover second base on the apparent attempted steal and the first baseman charges the bunt, nobody will be covering first base and the batter will reach safely. Here, the Nats read it all the way: SS covers second, the second baseman is moving toward first, and the first baseman covers his bag as the picher makes the play on the bunt.
Dandy Squeeze Score (what’s this?): +2 (+1, success; +1, seventh inning or later)
Game: Milwaukee at Miami, July 2 (box, 6-5 Brewers win)
Situation: Bottom 8, zero out, 0-0 count, runners at 1st/3rd, game tied 5-5
Pitcher: Randy Choate
Batter: Norichika Aoki
Runner on 3rd: Rickie Weeks
Leverage index: 1.95
Win probability added: +6.7%
Aoki strikes again! He’s 4-for-4 on the season, and three of those were in tie or one-run games. He’s a clutch squeeze performer!
After the game, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke had this to say:
“I know [Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen] knows we have a good chance to do it,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “What’s he going to do?” (MLB.com recap)
After Milwaukee put runners on first and third, Aoki replaced Cesar Izturis as a pinch hitter to face the right-handed Ryan Webb. Miami countered by bringing in the lefty Choate. What I’d like to know from Roenicke is whether he chose Aoki to pinch hit specifically to put the bunt down or if he put the squeeze on after the pitching change. Aoki is a much better hitter than Izturis, especially against right-handed pitching. Against a right-handed pitcher, Aoki has a good chance of scoring the run without the bunt, which makes the squeeze even more dangerous. Against a lefty, the odds go down dramatically, and I wonder if that forced the squeeze on Roenicke.
Dandy Squeeze Score (what’s this?): +4 (+1, success; +1, batter reaches base; +1, seventh inning or later; +1, tie game)
Game: Toronto at Miami, June 23 (box, 7-1 Blue Jays win)
The Jays turn the trick twice in one game!
Leverage index: 1.7
Win probability added: +8.3%
Back-to-back walks to start the inning put runners on first and second. The Jays bunted the runners to second and third, bringing Davis to the plate for the squeeze. That’s a lot of bunting in one inning, which I normally disapprove of, but Davis is a fast guy and pretty good bunter (37% career rate on bunting for a hit). Johnson got to the ball quickly, and a good throw might have got the runner at the plate.
Dandy Squeeze Score (what’s this?): +2 (+1, success; +1, tie game)
Leverage index: 1.1
Win probability added: +4.7%
Backup catcher alert!
The plate appearance started with runners on first and second. After the first pitch, Cishek balked, sending the runners to second and third. Extreme ground ball pitcher (55% ground ball rate, 29% fly ball rate) plus prime strikeout candidate at the plate (34% this year) equals squeeze situation.
- Pitch 2 (1-0): Bunted foul down first base line.
- Pitch 3 (1-1): Pitchout, no action.
- Pitch 4 (2-1): Pitchout, no action.
- Pitch 5 (3-1): Mathis put the bunt down. It wasn’t perfect, as it could have been tighter to the line, but it had good weight, dying in the grass. If Cishek fielded it cleanly, he might have had a play at the plate. The Florida announcers seem to indicate that Cishek isn’t a great fielder. The numbers suggest he’s a scratch defender, but small sample caveats apply.
Dandy Squeeze Score (what’s this?): +3 (+1, success; +1, seventh inning or later; +1, ninth inning or later)