FanPost

Is it time to adopt a Japanese-style approach?

This is my first post here at LL.  Avid reader, but I guess I felt like wanting to bring a different angle on things.

Everyone knows the M's offense is the worst in the majors - heck, it's one of the worst in history.  A slash line of .226/.293/.337 strikes fear into the hearts of no one.

If you make the assumption that the only way the M's can get on base is a single or a walk, the quickest ways to get a runner home would be something along the lines of getting a walk/single, another walk/single or FC to advance the runner, and then a single to get the runner home.

Asking the M's to get 3 singles or a walk and 2 singles?  Or a walk/single, productive swinging groundout and another single?  Right now, the odds are stacked against the M's.

So is it time to adopt a more Japanese-style approach?

Yes in Japanese baseball there are HR's, but there also is a focus on small ball.  I follow Japanese HS baseball, and small ball is played to a fault.  There are a lot of teams I see that when a runner gets on base, they are immediately bunted to 2nd - sometimes even when there's already 1 out. It's also fairly common to see teams employ a suicide squeeze whenever there's a runner on 3rd and less then 2 outs.  A lot of the non-powerhouses adopt this strategy looking for a one-shot timely hit to score a run precisely because they know that they can't necessarily string hits together because of their talent.

Now, I'm not advocating going so far as to bunt with 1 out, or to do a suicide squeeze whenever we get a runner to 3rd.  Heck, I get frustrated when I watch Japanese HS games precisely because I expect it to happen when the situation arises (much like how the runners dive into 1st to show their "guts").  At the same time though, it wouldn't be something that would be expected here.

Now before I get laughed out of the blog because I'm referencing high school baseball in Japan (and who knows, I probably still will afterwards), first of all understand that HS baseball in Japan is a big deal.  There's 2 national tournaments held annually and shown on national TV.  Games are held at a major league ballpark, and the summer tournament forces the home team (Hanshin Tigers) to go on a 3 week road trip.  It is a HS ballplayers dream to make it to Koshien.

Second, small ball also applies to NPB, though not as much.  Looking at the stats from this year, in the 494 games played so far, there have been 682 sacrifice hits, averaging 1.381 per game.  Compare that to the 2598 games played this year and 885 sacrifice hits (0.341/game).  And if you want to go NL specific, there were 586 in 1390 games for a 0.421/game average.  Last year in all of NPB, there were 1495 sacrifices in 1728 games for a 0.865/game average.

So why not consider bunting the runner over to look for a one-shot?  Yes, I know this goes against the SABR-mindset.  Bunting never increases the run potential of an inning.

But then again, are we much better than a replacement level offense?  Yes, you're probably never going to ask Ackley to bunt, but could you ask Guti to bunt?  Ryan? Kennedy?

If all we're looking for is a couple of runs each game, why not try this approach?  Much like Moshidora had the revolutionary no-bunt, no-ball strategy, perhaps adopting something like this might actually do some good.

But what do I know?  I'm just an avid reader who decided to give his two cents for once.

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