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Far East
04-11-2007, 01:33 PM
I hate to sound like my grandfather did back in the day, but the Reds lack bunting skills!

As recently as Tuesday night, Loshe failed to sacrifice to advance a runner, Griffey wasn't asked to, and by the looks of Edwin's feeble attempt, he should not have been expected to. The Arizona booth guy mentioned that Jr. had no sac bunt since '03 (or was it '04?) and that Encarnacion has never had one yet.

I think there are some coaches on this board who could better explain this, but it looks like (A) the bunter is often too far back in the box to keep the ball in fair ground, (B) the bat is not far enough in front to eyeball the pitch contacting the bat, (C) the bat easily covers the middle/in part of the zone but not the outside pitch, (D) there is a lot of "stabbing" at the ball, especially at outside pitches (perhaps caused by "C").

Possible practice drill remedies: (1) screw, velcro, or otherwise attach a kid's small fielder's glove to the bat's sweet spot, and "catch" (no stabbing) the batting practice pitches in that glove -- this presumes that the bunter has been already been told/shown/ coached as to the proper stance, arm, hand positions, etc.;

(2) do everything in #1, except replace the little glove with a baseball-size hole drilled part-way or all of the way through the bat;

(3) a more "disciplined" BP -- or at least as much is feasible with adult professionals -- in which no one gets to swing from the heels or play "homerun derby" until he has mastered angling the bat (bunts toward 1B or 3B) and the soft-hands RECEIVING of the ball onto the bat as opposed to pushing or slapping at the pitch.

Much of the above sounds more suitable for Pee Wee League, but it might be justifiable if one deems it important enough for a contender to be able to execute a sac bunt every once in a while, ala the Diamondbacks, for instance.

We've all witnessed the light-hearted, half-hearted two bunts each guy does in pregame BP. Is it reasonable to spend as much time and effort on CORRECT bunting as it is on the practice of pick-off plays at second base, for example? How many lost scoring opportunities and game losses must be endured before Jerry -- or someone in charge -- takes seriously the Reds' inability to bunt?

Always Red
04-11-2007, 01:46 PM
You're absolutely right, it's been atrocious this year, thus far.

You can blame coaching or you can blame the players. Narron talks a good fundamental game, but his team very seldom plays sound fundamental baseball- for instance, Hammy missed the cutoff man in the very 1st inning last night, allowing the runner to go to 2nd base. (Of course, our Roy Hobbs did redeem himself very nicely with the HR :) )

I think it's more of a reflection of players just being lazy, not doing in games what they have been drilled to do. I'm sure pitchers especially, are made to practice their bunting skills ad nauseum.

The little things make a big difference; the great ones know that!

Chip R
04-11-2007, 01:52 PM
Personally I think the players should work on hitting the ball more. I can't believe Gonzalez diddn't get at least a double in his last at bat last night.

registerthis
04-11-2007, 02:03 PM
Personally I think the players should work on hitting the ball more. I can't believe Gonzalez diddn't get at least a double in his last at bat last night.

He should have homered. I don't know why he didn't.

Chip R
04-11-2007, 02:29 PM
He should have homered. I don't know why he didn't.


Exactly.

TOBTTReds
04-11-2007, 02:59 PM
Aaron Miles walked in the Cards 5th. Wainright bunted him over. Then Eckstein slapped a hit to score Miles. Incredible.

jmcclain19
04-11-2007, 04:11 PM
Bunting is far overrated. Narron should be drawn & quartered for asking his cleanup hitter trying to bunt with no outs and runners on 1st & 2nd late in the game.

I don't mind the use of the bunt as a weapon to get a hit (especially if your fast and adept at bunting) and I don't mind pitchers bunting because they frankly don't have the best odds that they could do anything with the ball otherwise.

Other than that, a bunt tends to be a waste. You have only 27 outs to burn every baseball game. Why give away some easy ones with your best hitters?

IslandRed
04-11-2007, 04:11 PM
Not saying we shouldn't bunt better than we do, but at some point, it's no different than hitting -- it's a skill where some people are better than others, and it's harder to do against game pitching than BP pitching.

registerthis
04-11-2007, 04:21 PM
Bunting is far overrated. Narron should be drawn & quartered for asking his cleanup hitter trying to bunt with no outs and runners on 1st & 2nd late in the game.

Hear, hear.

"Bunting" currently resides at #11 on my list of Top 10 problems with this club.

Red Leader
04-11-2007, 04:27 PM
I hate to sound like my grandfather did back in the day, but the Reds lack bunting skills!





You know, like nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills... Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.

Moral of the story. Chicks dig teh bunt! :beerme:

Redsland
04-11-2007, 05:05 PM
Not saying we shouldn't bunt better than we do, but at some point, it's no different than hitting -- it's a skill where some people are better than others, and it's harder to do against game pitching than BP pitching.
*cough*Brook Jacoby*cough*

pedro
04-11-2007, 05:08 PM
Bunting is far overrated. Narron should be drawn & quartered for asking his cleanup hitter trying to bunt with no outs and runners on 1st & 2nd late in the game.

I don't mind the use of the bunt as a weapon to get a hit (especially if your fast and adept at bunting) and I don't mind pitchers bunting because they frankly don't have the best odds that they could do anything with the ball otherwise.

Other than that, a bunt tends to be a waste. You have only 27 outs to burn every baseball game. Why give away some easy ones with your best hitters?


I wasn't a fan of that move either.

jimbo
04-11-2007, 05:11 PM
Bunting is far overrated. Narron should be drawn & quartered for asking his cleanup hitter trying to bunt with no outs and runners on 1st & 2nd late in the game.


Can't agree at all. Bunting is a tool for manufacturing runs that championship teams do well. Living and dying by the home run is rarely a recipe for success in the majors, a team has to be able to manufacture runs and bunting late in the game with runners on first and second is a sound baseball decision. By doing so you take care of two things, eliminate the double play possibility and create a sacrifice situation with the runner on third. Things that winning teams know how to do.

As far as having your cleanup hitter bunting, EE isn't your typical cleanup hitter at this point of his career.

Ltlabner
04-11-2007, 05:32 PM
Hear, hear.

"Bunting" currently resides at #11 on my list of Top 10 problems with this club.

That high? I'd throw it up there somewhere around "should there be heathier food choices at GABP" in terms of issues to be solved pronto.


You know, like nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, computer hacking skills... Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.

:laugh:

Sweet!

RedsManRick
04-11-2007, 05:34 PM
A single plates the winning run and anything more than that plates two. By bunting you are:

1.) Virtually guaranteeing that EE makes an out
2.) Maybe not accomplishing anything if he doesn't place the bunt well
3.) At best going from having 1 guy in scoring position to having 2 guys in scoring position
4.) Avoiding a double play

Of course, Narron is essentially trying to maximize his chance of scoring at least 1 run. Unfortunately, I'm not sure he knows the math.

I present the chart below from Baseball Analysts. Each cell represents the average number of runs scored based on the below circumstance: cleanup hitter up, X # of outs, Y on-base situation:



4 0 1 2
--- .488 .293 .118
x-- .885 .567 .252
-x- 1.160 .711 .343
xx- 1.501 .962 .488
--x 1.318 .972 .412
x-x 1.816 1.230 .530
-xx 1.950 1.445 .644
xxx 2.345 1.616 .863


Put simply, the run expectancy before a successful bunt was 1.501. The run expectancy, had EE got the bunt down and advanced the runners, would have been 1.445. Basically a gain of nothing whatsoever.

If I am in the bottom of the inning and I knew that 1 run definitely wins the game, I can see that strategy making sense, as the probably of scoring any runs at all probably goes up (even though the overall run expectancy goes down). However, given that you're in the top of the inning and knowing that EE is bad bunter, he should've been playing that AB straight in my mind.

Of course, if you should take anything away from this chart or similar charts it's this: OUTS ARE MORE VALUABLE THAN BASES. IF IN DOUBT, SAVE THE OUT.

registerthis
04-11-2007, 06:12 PM
That high? I'd throw it up there somewhere around "should there be heathier food choices at GABP" in terms of issues to be solved pronto.


Hey, I'm not attending another Reds game until they start offering Boca Burgers.

Ltlabner
04-11-2007, 06:17 PM
Hey, I'm not attending another Reds game until they start offering Boca Burgers.

Hey, they got rid of smoking, what more do you want? :laugh:

Ltlabner
04-11-2007, 06:22 PM
Actually, now that I've thought about it, I'd rank focusing on bunting up with "preventing random hot dog wrappers from floating across the stadium during game play" as issues to which the team should dedicate engery adressing.

BRM
04-11-2007, 06:25 PM
Actually, now that I've thought about it, I'd rank focusing on bunting up with "preventing random hot dog wrappers from floating across the stadium" as issues to which the team should dedicate engery adressing.

No kidding. Dunn had an issue with one of those last week.

registerthis
04-11-2007, 06:31 PM
Can't agree at all. Bunting is a tool for manufacturing runs that championship teams do well.

Could have fooled me...

In 2006, the Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals led their respective leagues in bunts. The WS champion Cardinals, however, finished in the bottom 50% of the league in bunts.

In 2005, the Washington Nationals led the NL in bunts, while the NL champion Astros finished behind them, the Giants and the Rockies.

In 2004, the Red Sox--the World Series champs--finished dead last in the league with only 12 bunts the entire season, while runner-up St. Louis once again finished in the bottom half of the league. The Nats/Expos once again led the NL league that year.

In fact, during the past six seasons, a World Series team is just as likely to have finished last in their league in bunts as first (both have been done twice.) if there's a correlation between winning championships and bunting, I'm not seeing it.

registerthis
04-11-2007, 06:32 PM
Hey, they got rid of smoking, what more do you want? :laugh:

Air purifiers in every seat, man.

Ltlabner
04-11-2007, 06:35 PM
Air purifiers in every seat, man.

How about something like this? Each bubble would have a built in air purifier(with delivery systems for the soy "burgers" of course).

http://www.polyfabrics.com/images/land/bubbleBoy%20Bubbles.jpg

BRM
04-11-2007, 06:39 PM
Boy did this thread take a turn...

:)

Far East
04-11-2007, 07:06 PM
Bunting is far overrated. Narron should be drawn & quartered for asking his cleanup hitter trying to bunt with no outs and runners on 1st & 2nd late in the game.

Maybe yes, maybe no; that's a question of strategy, not execution. But once the manager decides, it would be nice to see a decent bunt.


In fact, during the past six seasons, a World Series team is just as likely to have finished last in their league in bunts as first (both have been done twice.) if there's a correlation between winning championships and bunting, I'm not seeing it.

Yes, but those champions probably had other strengths to offset their low number of sac bunts: all-star lineups, superlative farm system, zillion dollar pitching staffs, gold gloves, etc. Things the Reds only wish they had.

jimbo
04-11-2007, 07:26 PM
In fact, during the past six seasons, a World Series team is just as likely to have finished last in their league in bunts as first (both have been done twice.) if there's a correlation between winning championships and bunting, I'm not seeing it.

Ok, my apologies, maybe I should have been more clearer. I never meant to imply that bunting is the main ingrediant to championship teams. I am simply of the belief that in general winning teams, who are not stacked with all-star type lineups, must be able to do the little things to manufacture runs. I would not put this team in the category of having a stacked lineup, so they have to be able to manufacture runs and bunting and sacrificing is a big part of that. Especially when considering how many undisciplined hitters this Reds lineup has.

I am not going to argue that you will not find exceptions to the rule.

RedsManRick
04-11-2007, 07:34 PM
Ok, my apologies, maybe I should have been more clearer. I never meant to imply that bunting is the main ingrediant to championship teams. I am simply of the belief that in general winning teams, who are not stacked with all-star type lineups, must be able to do the little things to manufacture runs. I would not put this team in the category of having a stacked lineup, so they have to be able to manufacture runs and bunting and sacrificing is a big part of that. Especially when considering how many undisciplined hitters this Reds lineup has.

I am not going to argue that you will not find exceptions to the rule.

Case in point, while the 2005 White Sox scored a ton of runs via the homer, they were able to successfully manufacture runs when the situation dictated.

You should not build an offense around the idea of manufacturing runs. However, occasionally, manufacturing a run is the best way to win a ballgame. Good teams are able to do both and have a manager that understands what circumstances call for what strategy.

texasdave
04-11-2007, 07:44 PM
A single plates the winning run and anything more than that plates two. By bunting you are:

1.) Virtually guaranteeing that EE makes an out
2.) Maybe not accomplishing anything if he doesn't place the bunt well
3.) At best going from having 1 guy in scoring position to having 2 guys in scoring position
4.) Avoiding a double play

Of course, Narron is essentially trying to maximize his chance of scoring at least 1 run. Unfortunately, I'm not sure he knows the math.

I present the chart below from Baseball Analysts. Each cell represents the average number of runs scored based on the below circumstance: cleanup hitter up, X # of outs, Y on-base situation:



4 0 1 2
--- .488 .293 .118
x-- .885 .567 .252
-x- 1.160 .711 .343
xx- 1.501 .962 .488
--x 1.318 .972 .412
x-x 1.816 1.230 .530
-xx 1.950 1.445 .644
xxx 2.345 1.616 .863


Put simply, the run expectancy before a successful bunt was 1.501. The run expectancy, had EE got the bunt down and advanced the runners, would have been 1.445. Basically a gain of nothing whatsoever.

If I am in the bottom of the inning and I knew that 1 run definitely wins the game, I can see that strategy making sense, as the probably of scoring any runs at all probably goes up (even though the overall run expectancy goes down). However, given that you're in the top of the inning and knowing that EE is bad bunter, he should've been playing that AB straight in my mind.

Of course, if you should take anything away from this chart or similar charts it's this: OUTS ARE MORE VALUABLE THAN BASES. IF IN DOUBT, SAVE THE OUT.

This chart has its relevance. Quite possibly it is relevant in most situations. However baseball is not a one-size-fits-all sport. There are different strategies for different situations. In the top of the 11th the sacrifice bunt could very well be the way to go. If Narron was attempting to score one run and then hand it over to his bullpen there is a chart that backs this strategy up. Here is the chart (from Baseball Analysts):


TABLE 4 - One Run Probability Table (1977-1992)

AL 0 1 2 NL 0 1 2
--- .276 .161 .067 --- .261 .148 .061
x-- .432 .277 .129 x-- .424 .268 .124
-x- .634 .414 .226 -x- .609 .400 .216
xx- .637 .430 .236 xx- .622 .413 .220
--x .839 .670 .279 --x .814 .648 .267
x-x .870 .656 .289 x-x .847 .650 .275
-xx .867 .689 .275 -xx .838 .664 .267
xxx .875 .679 .331 xxx .860 .668 .315

Table 4 provides a little more evidence of why managers bunt. This table calculates the percentage of times you will score at least one run in the various game situations. With runners on first and second and no outs NL teams will score at least one run 62.2% of the time. With runners on second and third and one out NL teams will score at least one run 66.4% of the time. A successful sacrifice bunt in that situation actually increases a team's chance of scoring at least one run.

This above table is for all hitters. This next chart is for cleanup hitters alone.


AL 4 0 1 2 NL 4 0 1 2
--- .280 .182 .081 --- .271 .176 .083
x-- .433 .294 .141 x-- .444 .304 .149
-x- .635 .427 .231 -x- .632 .437 .234
xx- .645 .445 .252 xx- .638 .443 .260
--x .830 .667 .290 --x .811 .680 .278
x-x .868 .668 .299 x-x .866 .680 .308
-xx .867 .706 .288 -xx .862 .694 .268
xxx .886 .682 .351 xxx .908 .692 .352


For cleanup hitters alone the percentage increases from 63.8% to 69.4%. Therefore, if EE had been successful in his sacrifice bunt attempt, the Reds would have had a better chance to score at least one run. IMO EE should be able to lay down a sacrifice bunt successfully. The more things a player can do, the more ways he can help his team win games. There are a small percentage of times that small ball is the way to manage.

I am pretty sure there are people wondering why the chart I presented and the chart RedsManRick presented seem to come to opposite conclusions. The fact is they don't. The chart I presented works only if you are trying to ensure that you score at least one run. (i.e. - small ball situations) The chart RedsManRick presented is the more valid chart in every other situation. As simply as I can put it is that by sacrificing you increase your chances of scoring at least one run, but you decrease your chances for a big inning. Therefore, overall, you are going to score less runs.

There are people on this board that have suggested that the Reds' bullpen needs more than a one run lead. For the most part that was a reasonable viewpoint in 2006. However, early in 2007, the Reds' bullpen has been stellar. It may revert back to 2006 standards, but it has done the job so far and Narron is correct in managing accordingly.

Always Red
04-11-2007, 07:48 PM
Case in point, while the 2005 White Sox scored a ton of runs via the homer, they were able to successfully manufacture runs when the situation dictated.

You should not build an offense around the idea of manufacturing runs. However, occasionally, manufacturing a run is the best way to win a ballgame. Good teams are able to do both and have a manager that understands what circumstances call for what strategy.

:thumbup:

Good point. Sometimes you have to resort to the bunt, especially in the NL. When the pitcher's up in the 6th or 7th, guys on 1st and 2nd, no one, out, sac bunting is a no-brainer. You need to move those guys along, to remove the force and put 2 guys in scoring position for the top of the order.

I think when you discuss bunting you need to clarify who is at the plate. No question bunting in the AL is much less necessary. And as RMR points out above, an offense built around manufacturing runs is a loser.

But there are occasions when a bunt is the best decision, again, depending on who is at the plate, and also who is pitching. An extreme sinkerballer is easier to bunt (the balls already heading that way) but much more likely to induce the hitter into a DP if he swings away.

The Encarnacion case is questionable, in my mind. I might have let him swing away, I don't know. Personally I think all MLB hitters should be able to bunt when necessary. That said, you'd be crazy to have ARod, Dunn or Pujols bunt. But NL pitchers must be adept at the art of bunting. If they're going to give an out away anyway (which most of them are- except for say Jason Marqui, Mike Hampton, or Bronson Arroyo twice in his life;) ) you might as well remove the force play and move the runner into scoring position.

I'm not sure that is something that stats can tell you? But maybe it can!

Chip R
04-11-2007, 08:09 PM
:thumbup:
But NL pitchers must be adept at the art of bunting. If they're going to give an out away anyway (which most of them are- except for say Jason Marqui, Mike Hampton, or Bronson Arroyo twice in his life;) ) you might as well remove the force play and move the runner into scoring position.

I'm not sure that is something that stats can tell you? But maybe it can!

I wholeheartedly agree. But I think we feel bunting is easier than it appears. Unlike swinging away, you have to put the ball within a certain area. Fare enough so the catcher can't just bend over and pick it up but not so far where an infielder can field it like a grounder. Plus, you can't bunt it foul with 2 strikes. And ususlly everybody and their brother knows the bunt is on so the corner IFers are charging. Popping it up usually results in an out. There's much less margin for error when you are trying to lay down a successful sacrifice bunt than if you just make contact.

What I'd like to see are more pitchers bunt for base hits - like Bronson. He did that once or twice last year. The time I saw it it wasn't successful but it was a nice try.

jojo
04-11-2007, 08:14 PM
Bunting is far overrated. Narron should be drawn & quartered for asking his cleanup hitter trying to bunt with no outs and runners on 1st & 2nd late in the game.

I don't mind the use of the bunt as a weapon to get a hit (especially if your fast and adept at bunting) and I don't mind pitchers bunting because they frankly don't have the best odds that they could do anything with the ball otherwise.

Other than that, a bunt tends to be a waste. You have only 27 outs to burn every baseball game. Why give away some easy ones with your best hitters?

Not only that but bunting emboldens terrorists....

I cringe (as does Earl Weaver and Sparky Anderson) everytime someone other than a pitcher bunts before say, the 16th inning ....

Cyclone792
04-11-2007, 08:23 PM
A single plates the winning run and anything more than that plates two. By bunting you are:

1.) Virtually guaranteeing that EE makes an out
2.) Maybe not accomplishing anything if he doesn't place the bunt well
3.) At best going from having 1 guy in scoring position to having 2 guys in scoring position
4.) Avoiding a double play

Of course, Narron is essentially trying to maximize his chance of scoring at least 1 run. Unfortunately, I'm not sure he knows the math.

I present the chart below from Baseball Analysts. Each cell represents the average number of runs scored based on the below circumstance: cleanup hitter up, X # of outs, Y on-base situation:



4 0 1 2
--- .488 .293 .118
x-- .885 .567 .252
-x- 1.160 .711 .343
xx- 1.501 .962 .488
--x 1.318 .972 .412
x-x 1.816 1.230 .530
-xx 1.950 1.445 .644
xxx 2.345 1.616 .863


Put simply, the run expectancy before a successful bunt was 1.501. The run expectancy, had EE got the bunt down and advanced the runners, would have been 1.445. Basically a gain of nothing whatsoever.

If I am in the bottom of the inning and I knew that 1 run definitely wins the game, I can see that strategy making sense, as the probably of scoring any runs at all probably goes up (even though the overall run expectancy goes down). However, given that you're in the top of the inning and knowing that EE is bad bunter, he should've been playing that AB straight in my mind.

Of course, if you should take anything away from this chart or similar charts it's this: OUTS ARE MORE VALUABLE THAN BASES. IF IN DOUBT, SAVE THE OUT.


This chart has its relevance. Quite possibly it is relevant in most situations. However baseball is not a one-size-fits-all sport. There are different strategies for different situations. In the top of the 11th the sacrifice bunt could very well be the way to go. If Narron was attempting to score one run and then hand it over to his bullpen there is a chart that backs this strategy up. Here is the chart (from Baseball Analysts):


TABLE 4 - One Run Probability Table (1977-1992)

AL 0 1 2 NL 0 1 2
--- .276 .161 .067 --- .261 .148 .061
x-- .432 .277 .129 x-- .424 .268 .124
-x- .634 .414 .226 -x- .609 .400 .216
xx- .637 .430 .236 xx- .622 .413 .220
--x .839 .670 .279 --x .814 .648 .267
x-x .870 .656 .289 x-x .847 .650 .275
-xx .867 .689 .275 -xx .838 .664 .267
xxx .875 .679 .331 xxx .860 .668 .315

Table 4 provides a little more evidence of why managers bunt. This table calculates the percentage of times you will score at least one run in the various game situations. With runners on first and second and no outs NL teams will score at least one run 62.2% of the time. With runners on second and third and one out NL teams will score at least one run 66.4% of the time. A successful sacrifice bunt in that situation actually increases a team's chance of scoring at least one run.

This above table is for all hitters. This next chart is for cleanup hitters alone.


AL 4 0 1 2 NL 4 0 1 2
--- .280 .182 .081 --- .271 .176 .083
x-- .433 .294 .141 x-- .444 .304 .149
-x- .635 .427 .231 -x- .632 .437 .234
xx- .645 .445 .252 xx- .638 .443 .260
--x .830 .667 .290 --x .811 .680 .278
x-x .868 .668 .299 x-x .866 .680 .308
-xx .867 .706 .288 -xx .862 .694 .268
xxx .886 .682 .351 xxx .908 .692 .352


For cleanup hitters alone the percentage increases from 63.8% to 69.4%. Therefore, if EE had been successful in his sacrifice bunt attempt, the Reds would have had a better chance to score at least one run. IMO EE should be able to lay down a sacrifice bunt successfully. The more things a player can do, the more ways he can help his team win games. There are a small percentage of times that small ball is the way to manage.

I am pretty sure there are people wondering why the chart I presented and the chart RedsManRick presented seem to come to opposite conclusions. The fact is they don't. The chart I presented works only if you are trying to ensure that you score at least one run. (i.e. - small ball situations) The chart RedsManRick presented is the more valid chart in every other situation. As simply as I can put it is that by sacrificing you increase your chances of scoring at least one run, but you decrease your chances for a big inning. Therefore, overall, you are going to score less runs.

There are people on this board that have suggested that the Reds' bullpen needs more than a one run lead. For the most part that was a reasonable viewpoint in 2006. However, early in 2007, the Reds' bullpen has been stellar. It may revert back to 2006 standards, but it has done the job so far and Narron is correct in managing accordingly.


:thumbup:

Good point. Sometimes you have to resort to the bunt, especially in the NL. When the pitcher's up in the 6th or 7th, guys on 1st and 2nd, no one, out, sac bunting is a no-brainer. You need to move those guys along, to remove the force and put 2 guys in scoring position for the top of the order.

I think when you discuss bunting you need to clarify who is at the plate. No question bunting in the AL is much less necessary. And as RMR points out above, an offense built around manufacturing runs is a loser.

But there are occasions when a bunt is the best decision, again, depending on who is at the plate, and also who is pitching. An extreme sinkerballer is easier to bunt (the balls already heading that way) but much more likely to induce the hitter into a DP if he swings away.

The Encarnacion case is questionable, in my mind. I might have let him swing away, I don't know. Personally I think all MLB hitters should be able to bunt when necessary. That said, you'd be crazy to have ARod, Dunn or Pujols bunt. But NL pitchers must be adept at the art of bunting. If they're going to give an out away anyway (which most of them are- except for say Jason Marqui, Mike Hampton, or Bronson Arroyo twice in his life;) ) you might as well remove the force play and move the runner into scoring position.

I'm not sure that is something that stats can tell you? But maybe it can!

Yes, I know I quoted a ton of information, but I wanted to quote all of it because it's all solid information in its own right.

Statistically, the specific situation the Reds were in last night with first and second, nobody out, and Encarnacion at the plate is probably as big of a coin flip as you're going to get. If I'm managing this situation, I have two goals ...

1) Score at least one run
2) Score as many runs as possible

#1 is more important than #2, however, because the Diamondbacks still have three remaining outs offensively, #2 still has some importance and shouldn't at all be forgotten.

Now, based on the information from Rick and Dave, this is what we have statistically ...

1) The probability of scoring one run after an Encarnacion bunt goes from 62.2 percent to 66.4 percent.
2) The average amount of runs that will score during that specific inning after an Encarnacion bunt goes from 1.501 runs to 1.445 runs.

Statistically, what's the best decision? Flip that coin, because it's so close that it's a moot point to debate, I think. If Encarnacion drops down a successful sacrifice bunt, then the probability of scoring one run increases very slightly. However, the average amount of runs scored in the situation decreases by a slight amount.

IMO, if I'm Jerry Narron in this specific instance and I know the statistical odds from above, then the deciding factor for me would be predominantly one thing: how adept is Edwin Encarnacion (or whoever the hitter is at the current time) at dropping down at sacrifice bunt, and what are the odds that he would successfully bunt both runners over? It's the question Always Red touched upon by clarifying who the hitter at the plate is.

If I have a hitter at the plate who I'm very certain will successfully drop down a sacrifice bunt and/or is not a very good hitter, then I'm probably going to have him bunt since I know there's a very high probability of the bunt successfully advancing the baserunners, or there's a low probability of a poor hitter to succeed swinging away. If I know there's a high chance to advance those runners and give me that marginal probability increase in scoring one run, I'm probably going to take it.

However, if I have a hitter at the plate who I'm not at all certain will successfully drop down a sacrifice bunt, but is a good hitter swinging away nonetheless, then I'm probably going to have him swing away. The worst possible scenario is to force a good hitter/lousy bunter into bunting, see that attempt fail, and then be left wondering how that plate appearance could have transpired if the hitter swung away from the outset. I'm not interested in forcing a bad bunter to bunt, because the odds of the bad bunter succeeding just won't very good.

How good of a bunter is Edwin Encarnacion, or which category does Edwin Encarnacion fall under? Well, that's what should be the debate, IMO, and that's the question that I really don't know the answer to, but Jerry Narron and his coaching staff absolutely must know the answer to.

Encarnacion has very little professional experience bunting in games, but how much does he bunt in batting practice? How much does he bunt in simulated games? Do the Reds themselves have specific bunting drills, and how often does the team run those drills? Over the totality of Encarnacion's bunts in practice, how well does he perform from a scouting standpoint?

Jerry Narron's the one who should know these answers, and he should also know which decision has the highest probability of resulting in a successful inning for his team. Obviously, if Encarnacion successfully bunts, Narron looks like a genius. If Encarnacion swings away and reaches base safely, Narron also looks like a genius. If Encarnacion screws up the bunt and makes an out, Narron looks like an idiot. Or if Encarnacion swings away and makes an out, Narron looks like an idiot.

Still, Narron should use the option that he feels has the highest chance of succeeding, and in this case, that question relies heavily upon how adept Edwin Encarnacion is at dropping down a sacrifice bunt.

jimbo
04-11-2007, 08:28 PM
I wholeheartedly agree. But I think we feel bunting is easier than it appears.

I certainly do not think that bunting is easy, but I do feel way too many players today do not take practicing bunting and perfecting it seriously. If Narron wants to preach the fundamentals and doing the little things, then he needs preach it in spring training and workouts. I'm not saying he isn't, but something isn't happening because his teams have never been solid at bunting.

I remember last night either Welsh or Thom mentioning that every player on the team bunts twice before swinging away in batting practice. I remember my coach from high school doing the same thing. I never thought it was enough then, and I still don't. Bunting two batting practice pitches is nowhere near the same as bunting real live game-time pitching.

jojo
04-11-2007, 08:32 PM
Statistically, what's the best decision?

You correctly state that the answer to this question really depends upon who is batting...

It depends upon whether your batter has a better likelihood of getting a hit or being able to bunt......

EE has no business bunting as evidenced last night. Juan Castro had better be bunting in that situation as evidenced by his career.

I'm in the camp that thinks Narron dropped tha ball on the EE decision...

TC81190
04-11-2007, 09:25 PM
Case in point, while the 2005 White Sox scored a ton of runs via the homer, they were able to successfully manufacture runs when the situation dictated.

You should not build an offense around the idea of manufacturing runs. However, occasionally, manufacturing a run is the best way to win a ballgame. Good teams are able to do both and have a manager that understands what circumstances call for what strategy.

Werd, dawg.

IslandRed
04-11-2007, 10:40 PM
I'm going to throw a new stat in there -- the Win Expectancy Finder.

Based on data from 1977-2006 -- that's as far back as it goes, and you get the same conclusion if you go back to 1993 or 1998, the last two expansions -- in an extra-inning game, score tied, visitors at bat, runners first and second, none out, the Reds' chances to win the game would have gone *down* by successfully sacrificing the runners to second and third.

That may not seem intuitive because texasdave's chart is correct, such a sacrifice usually increases the probability of scoring a single run although it drops the chances of scoring multiple runs. But in last night's situation, the home team isn't going to play it straight; they're going to sell out to try and prevent ANY runs from scoring. Which means that, after the sacrifice, they're going to walk the bases loaded to bring the double play back into the picture, and then draw the infield in. The one-run chart shows that it's a wash, probability-wise; but that chart is the aggregate of all such situations, and teams are probably more likely to prevent a run from scoring by drawing the infield in to cut down the runner at the plate, something they usually don't do. They're more likely to give up a multi-run inning by letting more hits through, but that's the risk they take.

But, as pointed out elsewhere, any basic probability has to be adjusted for the situation -- who's up, who's pitching, who's on deck.

Johnny Footstool
04-11-2007, 10:46 PM
Can't agree at all. Bunting is a tool for manufacturing runs that championship teams do well. Living and dying by the home run is rarely a recipe for success in the majors, a team has to be able to manufacture runs and bunting late in the game with runners on first and second is a sound baseball decision. By doing so you take care of two things, eliminate the double play possibility and create a sacrifice situation with the runner on third. Things that winning teams know how to do.

As far as having your cleanup hitter bunting, EE isn't your typical cleanup hitter at this point of his career.


Championship teams tend to score runs in bunches. They tend to overwhelm the opposition by getting lots of runners on base, then slugging the ball and knocking them in.

RedsManRick
04-11-2007, 10:52 PM
Championship teams tend to score runs in bunches. They tend to overwhelm the opposition by getting lots of runners on base, then slugging the ball and knocking them in.

Championship teams tend to win lots of games. Usually that involves scoring runs in bunches. Sometimes it means scoring just 1 run when 1 run wins the game.

Always Red
04-11-2007, 10:56 PM
... Reds' chances to win the game would have gone *down* by successfully sacrificing the runners to second and third.

That may not seem intuitive because texasdave's chart is correct, such a sacrifice usually increases the probability of scoring a single run although it drops the chances of scoring multiple runs. But in last night's situation, the home team isn't going to play it straight; they're going to sell out to try and prevent ANY runs from scoring. Which means that, after the sacrifice, they're going to walk the bases loaded to bring the double play back into the picture, and then draw the infield in. The one-run chart shows that it's a wash, probability-wise; but that chart is the aggregate of all such situations, and teams are probably more likely to prevent a run from scoring by drawing the infield in to cut down the runner at the plate, something they usually don't do. They're more likely to give up a multi-run inning by letting more hits through, but that's the risk they take.

But, as pointed out elsewhere, any basic probability has to be adjusted for the situation -- who's up, who's pitching, who's on deck.

Another great point.

Thanks to all for a great discussion- I've learned a lot!

Yachtzee
04-11-2007, 11:13 PM
If a player is good enough a hitter to be batting 4th in your lineup, you probably shouldn't ask him to bunt, especially when he can plate those runs with one swing of the bat. You are essentially abdicating your #4 hitter's ability to hit for extra bases in favor of a lesser hitter hopefully being able to hit at least a sac fly. If he just happens to be good at getting hits, then he gets walked in favor of your #6 hitter. Unless you've got a really deep lineup, you're now counting on someone in the bottom half of the lineup to avoid making an out and bringing in a run.

Would you ask George Foster or Johnny Bench to drop a bunt?

jojo
04-12-2007, 07:46 AM
If a player is good enough a hitter to be batting 4th in your lineup, you probably shouldn't ask him to bunt, especially when he can plate those runs with one swing of the bat. You are essentially abdicating your #4 hitter's ability to hit for extra bases in favor of a lesser hitter hopefully being able to hit at least a sac fly. If he just happens to be good at getting hits, then he gets walked in favor of your #6 hitter. Unless you've got a really deep lineup, you're now counting on someone in the bottom half of the lineup to avoid making an out and bringing in a run.

Would you ask George Foster or Johnny Bench to drop a bunt?

Sparky Anderson wouldn't have...

Johnny Footstool
04-12-2007, 01:45 PM
Championship teams tend to win lots of games. Usually that involves scoring runs in bunches. Sometimes it means scoring just 1 run when 1 run wins the game.

A team's record in 1-run games usually doesn't reflect their overall record.

The Yankees tied for the best record in baseball last season, but were only 24-22 in 1-run games. The World Champion Cardinals were just 22-27. The Reds were 27-20, yet still finished below .500.

RedsManRick
04-12-2007, 01:57 PM
A team's record in 1-run games usually doesn't reflect their overall record.

The Yankees tied for the best record in baseball last season, but were only 24-22 in 1-run games. The World Champion Cardinals were just 22-27. The Reds were 27-20, yet still finished below .500.

Fair enough. I'd be interested to see the regression of overall winning % and 1 run game winning % for all teams in the last 20 years.

You can win championships while losing a lot of 1 run games. I'll grant you that. However, winning a lot of 1 run games certainly helps. A win is a win and wins are good. The trick is not building a team or a strategy for winning 1 run games at the expense of non 1-run victories.

Win blowouts AND win 1 run games. They aren't mutually exclusive. That said, if you have to make choice, build a team that can blow people out.

M2
04-12-2007, 02:00 PM
Sparky Anderson wouldn't have...

Sparky was SABR before SABR existed. Bench laid down three bunts in nine years of playing for Sparky. Rose had nine in nine seasons. Joe Morgan, who could bunt, laid down seven in seven seasons (none after 1974). Perez laid down zero sac bunts. Foster laid down three, zero after he became a regular.

M2
04-12-2007, 02:07 PM
Fair enough. I'd be interested to see the regression of overall winning % and 1 run game winning % for all teams in the last 20 years.

You can win championships while losing a lot of 1 run games. I'll grant you that. However, winning a lot of 1 run games certainly helps. A win is a win and wins are good. The trick is not building a team or a strategy for winning 1 run games at the expense of non 1-run victories.

Win blowouts AND win 1 run games. They aren't mutually exclusive. That said, if you have to make choice, build a team that can blow people out.

The misconception on winning one-run games is that you should be playing for one run. For instance, had Encarnacion driven in two with a double the other night, the Reds would have been in line to win a one-run game after Weathers coughed up that two-out double to Scott Hairston.

Also, a good offense can cause you to lose a lot of one-run games because you'll make contests out of what would be easy victories against less potent. The real mark of a good team isn't its one-run record, it's in not losing by bunches of runs (3+) on a consistent basis.

coachw513
04-12-2007, 02:19 PM
Bunting is far overrated. Narron should be drawn & quartered for asking his cleanup hitter trying to bunt with no outs and runners on 1st & 2nd late in the game.

I don't mind the use of the bunt as a weapon to get a hit (especially if your fast and adept at bunting) and I don't mind pitchers bunting because they frankly don't have the best odds that they could do anything with the ball otherwise.

Other than that, a bunt tends to be a waste. You have only 27 outs to burn every baseball game. Why give away some easy ones with your best hitters?

thank you Billy Beane :)

coachw513
04-12-2007, 02:24 PM
Yes, I know I quoted a ton of information, but I wanted to quote all of it because it's all solid information in its own right.

Statistically, the specific situation the Reds were in last night with first and second, nobody out, and Encarnacion at the plate is probably as big of a coin flip as you're going to get. If I'm managing this situation, I have two goals ...

1) Score at least one run
2) Score as many runs as possible

#1 is more important than #2, however, because the Diamondbacks still have three remaining outs offensively, #2 still has some importance and shouldn't at all be forgotten.

Now, based on the information from Rick and Dave, this is what we have statistically ...

1) The probability of scoring one run after an Encarnacion bunt goes from 62.2 percent to 66.4 percent.
2) The average amount of runs that will score during that specific inning after an Encarnacion bunt goes from 1.501 runs to 1.445 runs.

Statistically, what's the best decision? Flip that coin, because it's so close that it's a moot point to debate, I think. If Encarnacion drops down a successful sacrifice bunt, then the probability of scoring one run increases very slightly. However, the average amount of runs scored in the situation decreases by a slight amount.

IMO, if I'm Jerry Narron in this specific instance and I know the statistical odds from above, then the deciding factor for me would be predominantly one thing: how adept is Edwin Encarnacion (or whoever the hitter is at the current time) at dropping down at sacrifice bunt, and what are the odds that he would successfully bunt both runners over? It's the question Always Red touched upon by clarifying who the hitter at the plate is.

If I have a hitter at the plate who I'm very certain will successfully drop down a sacrifice bunt and/or is not a very good hitter, then I'm probably going to have him bunt since I know there's a very high probability of the bunt successfully advancing the baserunners, or there's a low probability of a poor hitter to succeed swinging away. If I know there's a high chance to advance those runners and give me that marginal probability increase in scoring one run, I'm probably going to take it.

However, if I have a hitter at the plate who I'm not at all certain will successfully drop down a sacrifice bunt, but is a good hitter swinging away nonetheless, then I'm probably going to have him swing away. The worst possible scenario is to force a good hitter/lousy bunter into bunting, see that attempt fail, and then be left wondering how that plate appearance could have transpired if the hitter swung away from the outset. I'm not interested in forcing a bad bunter to bunt, because the odds of the bad bunter succeeding just won't very good.

How good of a bunter is Edwin Encarnacion, or which category does Edwin Encarnacion fall under? Well, that's what should be the debate, IMO, and that's the question that I really don't know the answer to, but Jerry Narron and his coaching staff absolutely must know the answer to.

Encarnacion has very little professional experience bunting in games, but how much does he bunt in batting practice? How much does he bunt in simulated games? Do the Reds themselves have specific bunting drills, and how often does the team run those drills? Over the totality of Encarnacion's bunts in practice, how well does he perform from a scouting standpoint?

Jerry Narron's the one who should know these answers, and he should also know which decision has the highest probability of resulting in a successful inning for his team. Obviously, if Encarnacion successfully bunts, Narron looks like a genius. If Encarnacion swings away and reaches base safely, Narron also looks like a genius. If Encarnacion screws up the bunt and makes an out, Narron looks like an idiot. Or if Encarnacion swings away and makes an out, Narron looks like an idiot.

Still, Narron should use the option that he feels has the highest chance of succeeding, and in this case, that question relies heavily upon how adept Edwin Encarnacion is at dropping down a sacrifice bunt.

Unbelievably good post on so many levels...this is statistically too close to call...we don't know what EE's level of bunt proficiency is (I'll glass-half-full my judgement that Narron and his coaches do) despite his place in the order...I would say that EE isn't necessarily the protypical 4th place hitter...

Finally, you hit it on the head with the hindsight regarding how we view Narron after the fact...

Good stuff :thumbup:

RedsManRick
04-12-2007, 02:27 PM
The misconception on winning one-run games is that you should be playing for one run. For instance, had Encarnacion driven in two with a double the other night, the Reds would have been in line to win a one-run game after Weathers coughed up that two-out double to Scott Hairston.

Also, a good offense can cause you to lose a lot of one-run games because you'll make contests out of what would be easy victories against less potent. The real mark of a good team isn't its one-run record, it's in not losing by bunches of runs (3+) on a consistent basis.

True M2, but at the same time, there are (rare) occasions when a bunt increases your chances of scoring at least one. My contention is, as I stated earlier, I'd only play for one run when one run literally wins the game (home team in the 9th or later) or when you have a Mariano Rivera or Joe Nathan to pitch the bottom of that inning. In general though, I'm always making the decision that maximizes my run potential overall.

M2
04-12-2007, 02:48 PM
True M2, but at the same time, there are (rare) occasions when a bunt increases your chances of scoring at least one. My contention is, as I stated earlier, I'd only play for one run when one run literally wins the game (home team in the 9th or later) or when you have a Mariano Rivera or Joe Nathan to pitch the bottom of that inning. In general though, I'm always making the decision that maximizes my run potential overall.

That's my general thinking too. The thing that really bugs me are sac bunts early in the game. Though I wouldn't have sent him to the plate to bunt the other night, I didn't mind Narron asking it of Edwin in that situation (though Cruz is a a bear to bunt against and Edwin is not an accomplished bunter). What bugged me was changing the sign when the count went 2-1. When you send a kid to the plate to do a tough job, let him do it. My guess is he was replaying that 2-0 pitch in his head (the one he didn't get to swing at) when the 3-1 pitch was coming.

Johnny Footstool
04-12-2007, 03:25 PM
Fair enough. I'd be interested to see the regression of overall winning % and 1 run game winning % for all teams in the last 20 years.

You can win championships while losing a lot of 1 run games. I'll grant you that. However, winning a lot of 1 run games certainly helps. A win is a win and wins are good. The trick is not building a team or a strategy for winning 1 run games at the expense of non 1-run victories.

Win blowouts AND win 1 run games. They aren't mutually exclusive. That said, if you have to make choice, build a team that can blow people out.

1-run games are governed mostly by random factors, so you're right -- build a team to blow people out. The more you can do that, the less important those 1-run games become.

RFS62
04-15-2007, 10:12 AM
Interesting thread.

One thing that occurs to me is that we blame Narron, or any other manager for that matter, when major league players can't get a bunt down, as if he was supposed to teach them how to bunt.

EVERY major league player should know how to bunt before they get to the major leagues. EVERY one of them. It's a basic skill of baseball. To get peeved at Narron when they show poor form is missing a large part of the point.

He should, however, have a clear understanding of who can and who can't produce a bunt before he employs the tactic. That's certainly on him. And if he finds someone lacking in his bunting skills, then work with him to improve his technique or don't call on him to do it.

Second, as has been mentioned, I believe that the situation rules the decision. Early in the game vs. late inning is comparing apples to oranges. And, it changes the defensive positioning, further putting pressure on the fielders and pitcher when you can get the lead or tying run to third, further creating a cascading effect on run production for the hitters coming up next.

I appreciate the statistical input, but it's not that clear cut, in my mind, as many other factors come into play that aren't measurable.

chicoruiz
04-15-2007, 01:24 PM
Pitchers need to be able to bunt, if only to keep me sane. For position players, it's easily as important as good penmanship.

oneupper
04-15-2007, 01:49 PM
Jerry Narron's the one who should know these answers, and he should also know which decision has the highest probability of resulting in a successful inning for his team. Obviously, if Encarnacion successfully bunts, Narron looks like a genius. If Encarnacion swings away and reaches base safely, Narron also looks like a genius. If Encarnacion screws up the bunt and makes an out, Narron looks like an idiot. Or if Encarnacion swings away and makes an out, Narron looks like an idiot.

Still, Narron should use the option that he feels has the highest chance of succeeding, and in this case, that question relies heavily upon how adept Edwin Encarnacion is at dropping down a sacrifice bunt.

I'm going to quote this from Cyclone's excellent post. I'd the surface, I'd agree...BUT..

"If Encarnación screws up the bunt...ENCARNACION looks like an idiot" is also true to many observers.

My problem is that IMO Narron will many times not make a decision based on the probability of success, but rather on the probability of looking (or not) like an idiot.

CYA management is alive and kicking in business and baseball.