Moneyball vs. old school on the sacrifice bunt

Michael Giberson

The sacrifice bunt is evil, say the sabermetricians with their numbers and charts and spreadsheets. The cost of the out given up is greater than the value of the base gained, and they can prove it mathematically. Offer to elaborate about this to Washington Nationals Manager Frank Robinson, to show him the charts and spreadsheets, and a big hand emerges from below his desk and jabs — palm out, fingers spread — at the air in front of your face: Stop. Put your charts away, son.

“I don’t live by the numbers,” Robinson said firmly, “and I don’t manage by the numbers. I put on the bunt when the situation calls for a bunt.”

So writes Dave Sheinin in the Sunday Washington Post in an excellent article on the analysts and the old guard in baseball. I expect that Skip Sauer at The Sports Economist will be commenting shortly.

UPDATE: Sauer’s post is up at The Sports Economist.


5 thoughts on “Moneyball vs. old school on the sacrifice bunt

  1. Well, just like an old guard manager knows what he knows, even if he don’t have the numbers. I just kind of got this itch to read what you’d be saying on The Sports Economist about the article.

    KP readers interested in baseball, or just good ol’ fashioned applied economics, should follow the link over to http://www.thesportseconomist.com.

  2. Tell that to the White Sox. Somehow they’re in first place, yet their team BA and OBP is amongst the worst in baseball (I think that it is the worst in the AL).

    Even sports analysts don’t understand how the Sox can be so good. The answer is Ozzieball, whose bedrock is the sacrifice bunt.

    Here’s how it works. Scotty Podsenik is the leadoff man. He generally bunts to get on base. Then he either steals second or is bunted over. He then either steals third, or in bunted over, or is knocked in from second.

    If he’s on third, he can score on a hit, a wild pitch, or even the suicide squeeze (which the Sox have performed more than anyone else this season by a factor of 3).

    The Sox almost always come out of the first inning with a run. Oftentimes, one run is all they need to win, their pitching is that good.

    I have no doubt that a historical numerical analysis of the sacrifice bunt will show that it is a waste. That is only because Ozzieball has only been in existance for one season!

  3. Tell that to the White Sox. Somehow they’re in first place, yet their team BA and OBP is amongst the worst in baseball (I think that it is the worst in the AL).

    Even sports analysts don’t understand how the Sox can be so good. The answer is Ozzieball, whose bedrock is the sacrifice bunt.

    Here’s how it works. Scotty Podsenik is the leadoff man. He generally bunts to get on base. Then he either steals second or is bunted over. He then either steals third, or in bunted over, or is knocked in from second.

    If he’s on third, he can score on a hit, a wild pitch, or even the suicide squeeze (which the Sox have performed more than anyone else this season by a factor of 3).

    The Sox almost always come out of the first inning with a run. Oftentimes, one run is all they need to win, their pitching is that good.

    I have no doubt that a historical numerical analysis of the sacrifice bunt will show that it is a waste. That is only because Ozzieball has only been in existance for one season!

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