FanGraphs Baseball

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  1. These are botched bunt attempts, what might be interesting is the 5 worst “successful” bunt attempts. Where a bunt was laid down just fine but bad strategy behind the decision to bunt.

    Comment by Joe — January 11, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

  2. Pardon my ignorance, how do you find these? Is there a database of every single play made and its WPA?

    Comment by Mario Mendoza — January 11, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  3. i believe i remember a certain suicide squeeze play, where eric byrnes pulled back the bunt. epic!

    Comment by AAron — January 11, 2011 @ 4:18 pm

  4. I don’t make this comment to knock you for doing these two posts, because I did enjoy reading them, but I feel like the addition of bunts where things went wrong (either defensive miscue or bad bunt by the batter) kind of eliminates any insight into whether the bunts were strategically good or bad. I mean, the only difference between a bunt on the Best Bunts list and a bunt on the Worst Bunts list could be that instead of the third baseman making a throwing error, the batter popped the bunt off and the runner on second got himself thrown out.

    It’s like two people taking the train to work: 1 guy finds a winning lotto ticket, the other guy gets shot. You can’t really say guy 1 had the best commute idea and guy 2 had the worst commute idea.

    Comment by Matt — January 11, 2011 @ 4:18 pm

  5. I honestly don’t understand how bunts are considered to be a negative thing to do. I found something really interesting… First of all there is a huge discrepancy between the AL and the NL because of pitcher bunts obviously.
    But using the nifty new feature here on the FG leaderboard splits… from 2005-2010 bunting in the AL produced 82.9 wRAA or about +8.3 WAR. just from bunting (!) it gets even more impressive as we take a look at the wRC+ for bunts… well bunts in the AL are fairly rare so the wRAA are excellent. the worst team in that time-frame were the white sox with a wRC+ of 80. the second worst were the twins with 123 (!!!) 12 out of 13 teams had a wOBA above .350 on bunts while 8 teams managed to get over .400!

    In the NL the cummulated amount of wRAA was -37.8 or -3.8 WAR. Only 3 teams managed a wOBA over .350 just one above .400…. 8 teams were bunting for a wOBA under .300…

    wouldn’t it make sense to bunt far more often? or don’t let pitchers bunt at all since the only real difference from the AL are pitchers bunting almost always when at bat what i think is the reason for the negative results of NL bunting.

    GO FOR THE BUNT!

    Comment by AC_Butcha_AC — January 11, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

  6. On the opposite side none of the top five +WPA attempts resulted in an out.

    So both would be changed if we somehow restricted it to “successful” bunts, where there is at least one man on base and at most one out, the batter is put out, and all runners advance exactly one base.

    Comment by Doug Lampert — January 11, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

  7. and suddenly, i hate encarnacion again

    Comment by brendan — January 11, 2011 @ 4:29 pm

  8. It wasn’t his fault – the Yankees can’t lose on Independence Day, and the one team not from the US can’t win. Those are the rules.

    Comment by Resolution — January 11, 2011 @ 4:45 pm

  9. truth.

    Comment by phoenix2042 — January 11, 2011 @ 5:29 pm

  10. The worst non-bunt of 2010?

    Comment by Theo — January 11, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

  11. gde3

    Comment by Noam — January 11, 2011 @ 6:27 pm

  12. A (successful) bunt always puts the ball in play, and normally requires a somewhat tricky play, so the possibility of “forcing” an error is a big reason why bunts can be successful. It’s the same reason grounding or flying out is generally considered better than striking out, because it at least gives the chance for something to go wrong (or right).

    Comment by Theo — January 11, 2011 @ 6:27 pm

  13. I think it would be much more interesting, and go a lot further to expose the relative uselessness of bunts if you were to list the 5 worst “successful” bunts that weren’t simply botched.

    Comment by Baron Samedi — January 11, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

  14. They all had errors too (except the dozing pitcher who wasn’t called for it).

    Comment by Barkey Walker — January 11, 2011 @ 7:21 pm

  15. Yeah, but some of them were throwing errors. Not sure why that would happen.

    Comment by Barkey Walker — January 11, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

  16. I think the bunt against the Yanks wouldn’t have been so bad if it were an inning prior because, well, you want to swing away at Mo?

    Comment by William — January 11, 2011 @ 9:09 pm

  17. It’s all about the “attempt” — bunts wouldn’t be nearly as good a strategy if the fielders didn’t frequently mess them up, but if we’re going to count those, we have to count the ones that are bunted into the air, etc., too. It’s about the strategy of the bunt.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — January 11, 2011 @ 10:18 pm

  18. Yes, though FanGraphs might not make it publicly available (easily anyway). You can go to any game’s play log (click up top “Scoreboard,” go to date of game, click “Play Log”). The WPA column shows the change in WPA for every play. So it’s there, just not in one easily accessible database for everyone (yet, ever, who knows?).

    Comment by sorry your heinous — January 11, 2011 @ 10:56 pm

  19. Throwing errors almost always happen because the play is rushed, that’s on the time it takes to field a bunt, which is longer than almost any other grounder.

    I have no problem with claiming that a throwing error is a result of the bunt.

    Bunts generate errors, it’s a major source of their value. The possibility of a bunt makes fielders play in, that’s another major source of their value and doesn’t show up in bunting statistics, but then niether do the cases where a player goes to 0-2 trying to bunt, and then starts swinging and strike out count against bunting in the stats.

    However, these posts aren’t really doing a statistical examination of a bunt, they’re looking at notable examples. And if looking at notable examples it’s reasonable to look just at examples where things go more or less as “expected” which means throw out the popups and double plays, and also throw out the errors.

    Comment by Doug Lampert — January 11, 2011 @ 11:00 pm

  20. Saddest of all, that was the 6th best play by a Mariner hitter all season.

    Comment by a seattle fan — January 11, 2011 @ 11:45 pm

  21. Joe Mauers out of the blue bunt with runners on first and second and either 1 or no outs has to be up there maybe not by win probability but by stupidity. I remember almost every twins fan including myself railing on him for weeks for it your number 3 hitter who just got signed to an astronomical contract should not be bunting in a situation where he is supposed to drive in runs his confidence was low at the time due to struggles but still.

    Comment by zak — January 12, 2011 @ 1:10 am

  22. What were the five top botched sentences in this piece?

    5. “At least he didn’t start the game, but game on in extra innings.”

    4. “WPA doesn’t take into account batter talent, so while this play was a big negative in that regard (although Mathis was lucky to avoid someone else getting thrown out when he bunted into the air). ”

    3. “Hudson came to the plate with Denard Span on first and not outs, and proceed to bunt into the air, which was caught by the pitcher, who threw Span out at second.”

    2. “This is the only appearance by a pitcher on this list, but Garland didn’t pitch in this game, but was brought in as a pinch-hitter in the eleventh inning with the Padres and Mets tied at one apiece, no outs, and a runner on third.”

    1. “It was the eleventh inning with one out, the Angels were tied was tied at three with Cleveland and, well Jeff Mathis was at the plate, so maybe a bunt would at least avoid the double play, right? “

    Comment by moot — January 12, 2011 @ 1:29 am

  23. I’m absolutely shocked that a bunt call by Jim Leyland did not end up on this list.

    Comment by Larry Smith Jr. — January 12, 2011 @ 1:40 am

  24. The Mariners had hitters? Shame they never let them play, isn’t it?

    Comment by Theo — January 12, 2011 @ 1:42 am

  25. Had to re-read this piece 5 times. Was worth it though.

    Comment by H Man — January 12, 2011 @ 6:41 am

  26. Just wait for the “worst hit-and-runs of 2010″ list.

    Comment by RPS — January 12, 2011 @ 9:04 am

  27. Eric Byrnes botched squeeze (he pulled the bat back) and then a strike out looking should count as a “bunt:” with a WPA of -32%.

    F Francisco I Suzuki 11 1 123 0-0 Ichiro Suzuki was caught stealing. Chone Figgins advanced to 3B. Jose Lopez advanced to 2B. 6.15 1.41 62.4 % -.196 -0.88
    F Francisco E Byrnes 11 2 _23 0-0
    Eric Byrnes struck out looking.
    4.66 0.53 50.0 % -.124 -0.53

    Comment by jacob — January 12, 2011 @ 1:20 pm

  28. okay, it’s not really a bunt, more of a worst at bat. so how about a listing of worst / best AB’s

    Comment by jacob — January 12, 2011 @ 1:20 pm

  29. That was a (surprisingly) interesting article, especially given AC_Butcha_AC comment about the disparity between the AL and NL. while one can expect the pitcher to bunt in the NL, I’d suspect that the vast majority of the times position players bunt, it is ordered from the dugout.

    So, can a similar analysis reveal which managers shot themselves in the foot most frequently by ordering a bunt? (even before I saw who the #1 worst bunt was, I knew that John Russell would be on this list.)

    Comment by gonfalon — January 12, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

  30. all of them would be tied for 1st.

    Comment by chuckb — January 14, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

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