Bunt To Win: April ’13 Edition

In April, there were a total of 139 non-pitcher, non-squeeze sacrifice bunts (~35/wk).

– 11 had a WPA/RE24 > 0, 128 had a WPA/RE24 <= 0 That means that over 90% of those sacrifice bunts HURT the team, or did nothing to help the team win while giving up an out. - 20 (14.4%) were in the first 3 innings of the game (31 in inn. 4-6). - 61 (43.9%) were by the batter in the 1st or 2nd spot in the batting order (3rd spot is the only one w/ 0 bunts, so that's something) - 78 (56.1%) were 1--/0 ; 3 were 1--/1 (*) - 37 (26.6%) came with the bunting team behind (6) or ahead (31) by 2 or more runs (**) (*) - The 3 1--/1 bunts were more likely bunt for hit attempts, but we and the Play Index aren't perfect. (**) - There was 1 bunt with the bunting team behind by 3 runs. The Mariners were the smrt team, and to drive the point home they did this in the bottom of the 6th inning. Outs? We don't need no stinking outs! Notes: - The Padres led the month with 10, the Angels and Mariners followed with 9 each. (AL West baseball: It's FAN-tastic!). - Those 3 teams are a combined 18 games under .500 - The White Sox have just 1 sac bunt on the month. A beacon in the darkness! SMRT-est bunt of the week: 4/9, Rangers at Rays. Elvis Andrus, 0-0 (B1) | 1--/0. -.23 RE24. Honestly, we feel that unless it is part of a hostage negotiation situation, if you have your 2nd batter of the game bunt you should be forced to forfeit the game. That's the way baseball go, indeed.

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.