Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Monday, October 17, 2005


Someone who knows baseball better than I please tell me why Scenario A is more common than B or C:

Scenario A: Speedy Leadoff Man (hereafter known as Player A) gets on first base to start an inning. High Contact Man (hereafter Player B) comes up to the plate. On the first pitch, Player B lays down a sacrifice bunt that moves Player A over to second. Player A is now on second and Player B has made the first out of the inning.

Scenario B: Player A gets on first base to start the inning. High Contact Man comes to the plate. On the first or second pitch to Player B, Player A steals second. If there are not two strikes, Player B lays down a bunt and moves Player A to third. Player A is now on third, with Player B making the first out. A sacrifice fly will score Player A.

Scenario C: Player A gets on first base to start the inning. High Contact Man comes to the plate. He takes/swings away until there is one strike (which could take one pitch on a strike or a foul, or more, depending on the pitcher's location) or he draws a walk. If Player B does not walk, after he gets a strike, Player B bunts, moving Player A to second.

Now, in my mind, both scenario B or C (at least C) are more lucrative than scenario A. Why?

In A, you take an out in exchange for moving a player. You risk popping the bunt up for an unproductive out, or laying a bad bunt that doubles up the man on first (a double play).

In B, you risk a double play, a caught stealing or a groundout/flyout that is unproductive, but there's more gain. One might argue that the risks are higher with B, but consider that your leadoff hitter should be a good basestealer. Shouldn't you play to his strengths?

I see even more advantage in C. Your Number 2 hitter is supposed to be a high contact hitter, so let him swing at least once or take a strike before giving him the bunt signal. You do risk a double play. But there are at least as many good scenarios as bad.

There are five neutral situations (1 - Fielder's choice on ground ball that moves Player A to second, 2 - Flyout that moves Player A to second, 3 - bunt that moves player A to second, 4 - double play ball, 5 - unproductive out) and at least 3 positive situations (1 - Player B gets a hit, 2 - Player B bunts when the third baseman is not expecting a bunt, both Players are safe, 3 - Player B walks, moving Player A to second).

Furthermore, you make the pitcher throw more pitches. Why is it that people advocate small ball, but laud players who bunt on the first pitch. At least take an extra pitch.

I know conventional wisdom says when playing smallball, bunt. But can someone show me the statistical advantage of bunting on the first pitch?

This scenario of course changes if it is not a speedy person on base, or if the person at the plate does not make good contact, but I've seen a leadoff hitter (#1) get on base to open an inning and then the #2 guy just casually lay down a bunt. You could argue that the chances of a double play or an unproductive out are higher when the player is swinging rather than bunting, but then again, I don't know that the positives aren't worth the risk.


Anonymous tommie said...

I recently read moneyball and they talk about the way they play called "moneyball". They do not sacrifice or steal much, because they do not think it is worth it to give up outs. It is a great debate on which way to play and of course sometimes, like a Yankee lineup, they will not play small ball, when some teams need to, especially in the National League because the pitcher

8:16 PM  
Blogger panda said...

this seems like something you should be crunching numbers for.

and maybe getting paid to do it.

5:21 PM  

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