The Week (or two) in Sac Bunts: 6/11-6/24

Over the past 2 weeks, there were a total of 93 non-pitcher, non-squeeze bunts (continuing a rough weekly pace of 40-45/per).

– 22 had a WPA/RE > 0 ; 71 had a WPA/RE24 <= 0 That means over 76% of attempts HURT the team, or did nothing to help the team win. - 30 (32.3%) were in the first 3 innings of the game (19 in inn. 4-6) - 43 (46.2%) came from the first 3 lineup spots - 42 (45.1%) were 1--/0 ; 4 were 1--/1 - 26 (28.0%) came with the bunting team behind (10) or ahead (16) by 2 or more runs. Gems: - 6/16, Rockies @ Tigers. Dexter Fowler, 0-4(T8) | 1--/1. Fowler pops out to 3B. Long-form: Down *4* runs with a man on 1B but with only 5 outs left, Dexter Fowler decides to bunt. Even if you think he's bunting for a hit, you have to admit this is a particularly stupid decision. We'll go out on a limb and say that if you only have one more out than runs your team is behind, you should not be bunting. Period. - "Best" of the week(s): 6/22, Dodgers @ Angels. The Angels' Bobby Wilson, ahead 5-6(B6) | -2-/0. The cherry on top? He bunted Aybar into an out at 3B and then the Angels went on to score 2 runs anyway, on a Trout BB and Hunter 2-RBI single. A lovely -.58 RE in a relatively low-leverage (LI 1.05) situation? Good jorb!

The Week in Sac Bunts: 6/4-6/10 (2012)

Last week, there were a total of 45 non-pitcher bunts. Removing the 4 squeeze bunts (*), of the remaining 40…

– 9 had a WPA/RE24 > 0 ; 9 had a WPA = 0/RE < 0 ; 22 had a WPA/RE24 < 0
That means over 75% of sac bunt attempts did nothing to help the team win, and 55% HURT them.
– 10 were in the first 3 innings of the game (12 in inn. 4-6)
– 11 came from the first 3 lineup spots
– 19 were 1–/0 ; 3 were 1–/1
– 10 came with the bunting team behind (7) or ahead (3) by 2 or more runs
Down 2 or more seems like the best time to trade an out for a single run.

The “best” bunt of the week: 6/10/12, Mets @ Yankees. Nick Swisher, 0-3(B2) | 12-/0. Swisher bunts the first pitch he sees and Jon Niese throws out the lead runner at 3B. This is a terrible bunt on so many levels, we don’t even… Someone should tear that page out of the binder.

#bunttowin folks, #bunttowin

(*) Friday’s 10th inning walk-off squeeze (squeeze bunts are good, remember?) by Wilson Valdez pinch-hitting for Sam LeCure against Phil Coke that won the game for the Reds being the obvious best of the bunch.

Smrt baseball’s favorite target: The Sac Bunt

Sac bunts are stupid. Think of it this way: If a player said to you “Man, I love purposely trying to make an out just to move the guy(s) on base up 90 feet!” you’d say “Shut up, Juan Pierre.”

Seriously. The very idea, when said aloud, explains how stupid it is. (*)

Now, we’re talking specifically about sacrifice bunts. Squeeze bunts are fine (smart, even!), because trading an out for a run is much better than trading an out for any other 90′ stretch of dirt. Bunting for a hit is okay, I guess, but the players who are most likely to do this are the players most likely to see a defense prepared for it so, not great baseball.

We’re not fooled by claims that the runner can beat out the throw or the defense could make an error and thus sac bunts are fine. If those things happen, you’ve FAILED to do what you set out to (make an out). Just because you fail into a better situation doesn’t change the fact that you failed.

We’d have to think on it more to be sure, but it’s possible that the only thing more hated than a sac bunt is a pitcher who just can’t help but walk a guy trying to sac bunt. Free tip: If they want to make outs, help them.

(*) – Yes, there are exceptions to every rule. There ARE situations in which a sac bunt has a positive expectation. Those situations are rare, and they certainly don’t happen in the first, say, 6 innings of a game. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is embarrassed and trying to save face.