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By: Fireworks Sat, 20 Aug 2011 00:01:11 +0000 To be fair to Jeter usually when he does something like bunt early in the game he is expecting to catch the defense sleeping. I don't think anyone has ever accused him of hedging his bets so that he either gets a hit or no lump on his stats for the sacrifice out.

By: stan cook Wed, 17 Aug 2011 15:46:10 +0000 #19 is correct. Many managers do this; I remember Adam Everett bunting Biggio every time he got on in the first inning. I think Bill James once noted that the biggest divergence in performance from team to team was in the second spot in the lineup.

By: nightfly Wed, 17 Aug 2011 05:25:41 +0000 Now we're talking about Vince Coleman?

This whole thread just won't stop stabbing me in my soul.

By: Jon Wed, 17 Aug 2011 03:29:05 +0000 I think for most players the purpose of the strategy is to try to reach first base by either hit or error, with the compromise of a sacrifice as the most likely alternative outcome, and very little chance of a double play. It may sound ridiculous to have had Carlos Beltran give himself up as the #3 hitter with two men on, but he had good speed, and it does put a lot of pressure on the defense to make a play. I think a lot of teams feel players put more pressure on themselves when they're playing from behind - hence the advantage of getting on board in the first inning. Certainly, there's a psychological disadvantage to letting a rally start in the first inning by throwing a bunt attempt into the outfield grass.

By: Kahuna Tuna Wed, 17 Aug 2011 03:07:39 +0000 I am old enough to remember Vince Coleman trying to bunt his way on for the first out of what seemed to be every game!

James, if you're a Mets fan, and if the box-score accounts are correct, you remember these five games:

5/17/91; 6/4/92; 6/14/92; 4/22/93; and 7/24/93

(I'm old enough to associate pure fan disgruntlement with Vince Coleman's time in New York. (-;þ )

By: James H Wed, 17 Aug 2011 02:19:33 +0000 I am old enough to remember Vince Coleman trying to bunt his way on for the first out of what seemed to be every game!

By: Johnny Twisto Wed, 17 Aug 2011 01:53:55 +0000 In Jeter's slight defense, Paulino is a hard-throwing righty, the type of pitcher he's had little success against over the past two seasons.

Of course, he subsequently went on to get a couple hits against him.


If someone lays down an obvious sacrifice bunt, he can still be given a hit. It doesn't really matter what he intended to do.

I think the issue is about the converse (inverse? obverse?): If the batter is "obviously" bunting for a hit, but gets thrown out, can he be given a sacrifice? I've heard that he should not be, but I don't know if that's actually the rule.

By: M. Scott Eiland Wed, 17 Aug 2011 01:51:13 +0000 Hmmm. The 2002 version of the Runs Created formula rates this particular sample at 5.62 RC/game--making it look effective. However, the bunt single rate seems rather high in this sample, and the sample only seems to include bunt attempts that go into play, which doesn't reflect the effects of unsuccessful bunts on the rest of the plate appearances (with the more likely than not 0-1 count following said unsuccessful bunt attempts tending to drag BA, OBP, and SA down for said plate appearances).

By: John Autin Wed, 17 Aug 2011 01:05:51 +0000 @22, Phil -- That's one view of "success" in that situation. Another view is, 72% of those plays resulted in an out.

As for the value of trading an out for a base in the first inning, you can look up Tangotiger's "Run Expectancy By Run Environment" table. Let's give the sacrifice the fairest shake possible by assuming a fairly low offensive context of 3.5 R/G -- facing a tough pitcher, say, or playing in Petco:

-- The average runs scored following a situation of man on 1st with 0 outs is 0.731 runs.
-- The average runs scored following a situation of man on 2nd with 1 out is 0.578.

The "successful" sacrifice reduces the total run expectancy by 0.153 runs, roughly 1/6 of a run. It substantially reduces the chance of a crooked number.

And for what gain? It does increase the chance of scoring exactly 1 run, but only from 0.176 to 0.225, or roughly 5 percentage points. That's not enough to make me want to play for 1 run in the 1st inning.

BTW, the scoring average this year is 4.15 R/G in the NL, 4.37 in the AL, 4.25 combined.

The table: