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Monday, March 03, 2014

Fangraphs/Sullivan: Reviewing Last Year’s Bunt Doubles

Posted because

(a) fun baseball!

(b) Worth pointing out Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs has been doing a great job picking out interesting things from 2013 and writing brief recaps with gifs and pictures. He’s been doing this for a while and deserves some credit for highlighting (a).

Last season, there were three bunt doubles, each of them different but each of them inarguably bunt doubles. FanGraphs has no record of a year with more bunt doubles. One was pulled almost like a line drive. One was put down against an infield shift. One was put down into an infield shift.

villageidiom Posted: March 03, 2014 at 10:54 AM | 42 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bunts, gerardo parra, gifs, nate mclouth, robinson cano

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   1. PreservedFish Posted: March 03, 2014 at 11:50 AM (#4665294)
Sullivan is my favorite baseball writer right now, precisely because of articles like this. Makes being a stathead superduper fun.
   2. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 03, 2014 at 12:09 PM (#4665311)
I was at the Cano game and it was obvious then, and is clear on the gif, that Cano should have been out. His left foot is literally on home plate as he bunts the ball. He should have been ruled out.

Sullivan's comments within the Cano piece about bunting more often are true. The killer is that with that sort of shift you don't have to bunt well, you just gotta shove it passed the pitcher.
   3. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 03, 2014 at 12:15 PM (#4665318)
Great stuff. Particularly...

Nate McLouth bunted for a double into the shift.

   4. puck Posted: March 03, 2014 at 12:15 PM (#4665319)
In this game, Gerardo Parra bunted for a double, which is extremely rare. Later in this game, Gerardo Parra was called out running to first on batter interference, which is also very rare. This game went to 15 innings, which is rare, and there were blown saves on home runs in both the 13th and the 14th, which is rare. The Mets lost, which is common.
   5. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: March 03, 2014 at 12:22 PM (#4665324)
That's nothing. I've seen a bunt home run.
   6. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: March 03, 2014 at 12:28 PM (#4665331)
I was at the Cano game and it was obvious then, and is clear on the gif, that Cano should have been out. His left foot is literally on home plate as he bunts the ball. He should have been ruled out.


He certainly could have been called out, but it's not at all clear from the gif. Any part of your foot touching any part of the batters' box means that you're still in the box, and I would want to see much higher quality video to make this call.
   7. Chris Fluit Posted: March 03, 2014 at 12:30 PM (#4665334)
Wright: There’s the baseball!
Beckham: The baseball is right there!
Rodriguez: Right there! That is the baseball!
Wright: We are all in agreement!
Rodriguez: That is a baseball


That cracked me up.
   8. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 03, 2014 at 12:45 PM (#4665348)
6 - Yeah, I guess I'm seeing what I expect to see in the gif, Lackey blocks him out a bit so it's not as clear as I thought it was.

He was unstoppable that night. 4 for 4 with 3 doubles and as I recall the other 3 hits were absolute missiles. The last double (the one in the gap on the photo) was absolutely roped.
   9. Srul Itza Posted: March 03, 2014 at 01:13 PM (#4665378)
On that last one, it should have been a single and a team error. If they had team errors.
   10. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 03, 2014 at 01:18 PM (#4665381)
On that last one, it should have been a single and a team error. If they had team errors.


A couple of boys like you and I, plus a dead loathsome columnist, can dream.
   11. Harmon "Thread Killer" Microbrew Posted: March 03, 2014 at 01:49 PM (#4665413)
Here's the Cano bunt on mlb.com.

Looks to me like his foot is very near the plate, but doesn't appear to be "literally on home plate as he bunts the ball".
   12. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 03, 2014 at 01:52 PM (#4665416)
Looks to me like his foot is very near the plate, but doesn't appear to be "literally on home plate as he bunts the ball".


The relevant question is if the foot is out of the box, which it appears to be (it may not be irrefutable from the video, but it appears there's space between his heel and the line). There is no rule about touching home plate. But the batter's out if he hits the ball with one or both foot outside the box.
   13. Harmon "Thread Killer" Microbrew Posted: March 03, 2014 at 02:00 PM (#4665420)
Ah, I see. My disputing the hyperbole did not relate to the essence of the call. Noted.
   14. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 03, 2014 at 02:06 PM (#4665430)
#7, Hilarious.

Also:

Just for fun, here’s the Red Sox broadcast right before Cano squared around:

Orsillo: He’ll be a free agent at the end of the year and most think the Yankees will bring him back.
Eckersley: Oh, I can’t imagine, they can’t lose this guy. This — they’ll give him the house.

   15. attaboy Posted: March 03, 2014 at 02:11 PM (#4665438)
great article, lots of fun and indisputable proof that Cano hustles every single play!
   16. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 03, 2014 at 02:30 PM (#4665463)
Eh, guess I was wrong. That angle linked in #11 is much clearer. Guess I remembered it wrong. Still looks like he's on the plate in the gif but obviously not the case.
   17. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: March 03, 2014 at 02:31 PM (#4665464)
nm
   18. BDC Posted: March 03, 2014 at 02:44 PM (#4665479)
Have them charge into the Crimea

Gotta get the bunt down first.

Though in this case it sounds like a sacrifice situation.
   19. Davo Dozier Posted: March 03, 2014 at 02:57 PM (#4665501)
Was it Brendan Ryan who got an infield triple a couple years ago? That one's always my favorite.

Ah, yes, and here's the clip.

Grounder deep into the whole between third and short. Shortstop makes the play, tries to make the long throw running to his right, but it's not in time. The second baseman has run to potentially back up an errant throw to first...which leaves second base completely unoccupied. Ryan makes the turn at first and heads on down. The third baseman and the shortstop run over to second to stop him, but they're way too late....and Ryan notices that this leaves third base unoccupied now, and so heads on down to third for a triple on a ball that never makes it out of the infield.
   20. WillYoung Posted: March 03, 2014 at 03:04 PM (#4665513)
That reminds of of when AJ Pierzynski scored from first base on an infield ground ball.
   21. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 03, 2014 at 03:08 PM (#4665519)
Was it Brendan Ryan who got an infield triple a couple years ago? That one's always my favorite.


On BBRef, that's scored simply as a single. The Play by Play description is "Single to SS (Ground Ball to Weak 3B); Ryan to 3B." But there's really no accounting for how he got there. Seems to me the most logical method to score it should be as two SBs.


That reminds of of when AJ Pierzynski scored from first base on an infield ground ball.


Here ya go.
   22. Karl from NY Posted: March 03, 2014 at 03:12 PM (#4665522)
My favorite play of the type was one by Jeter that I think was in a postseason game. He hit a rocket at third base - literally at third base - the ball struck the bag, caromed 100 feet straight up, and by the time it came down Jeter was standing on second. Haven't been able to find a clip though.
   23. Mike Fast Posted: March 03, 2014 at 03:16 PM (#4665531)
The relevant question is if the foot is out of the box, which it appears to be (it may not be irrefutable from the video, but it appears there's space between his heel and the line). There is no rule about touching home plate. But the batter's out if he hits the ball with one or both foot outside the box.


When I freeze-frame the video, it looks to me like his heel was still touching the chalk by a half inch or so when he connected with the ball. I had to combine two frames into one image to show it since the pitcher is obscuring the chalk line in the frame of interest.
   24. cardsfanboy Posted: March 03, 2014 at 03:17 PM (#4665536)
On BBRef, that's scored simply as a single. The Play by Play description is "Single to SS (Ground Ball to Weak 3B); Ryan to 3B." But there's really no accounting for how he got there. Seems to me the most logical method to score it should be as two SBs.


Since we don't have a team error, I would have scored it as a fielders choice. He advanced because the fielders choose not to cover/play properly.
   25. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 03, 2014 at 03:21 PM (#4665546)
He advanced because the fielders choose not to cover/play properly.


That's a pretty expansive definition of choice.

I do agree this is another example of the utility of the team error.



   26. attaboy Posted: March 03, 2014 at 03:32 PM (#4665553)
Both plays against Oakland, who I assume are typically strong in the fundamentals of the game, just asleep at the switch on this one (or two). Players with their heads down a bit too much.
   27. cardsfanboy Posted: March 03, 2014 at 03:41 PM (#4665562)
That's a pretty expansive definition of choice.


Agreed, but it seems like the best option. To me a stolen base has to be a separate action. (Play needs to be "dead" and a new play started) Although supposedly in Ty Cobbs day, if a man was on third and a walk was issued, the batter would take off for second after reaching first, and then the man on third would try to score and this would be called a steal.... just doesn't feel like one to me, but I guess the rules are the rules.

I just routinely think of fielders choice as an alternative to team errors, since we don't have that as an option.
   28. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 03, 2014 at 03:59 PM (#4665578)
To me a stolen base has to be a separate action.


And I would say this was. It wasn't a separate play, but it was also clear that the runner was not taking second as part of a continuous action, or an identifiable error by the defense. And since the defense wasn't indifferent to his taking the extra base (which truly is a choice), I think he probably deserves an SB.

For a better example. In the A.J. play, I'd draw the line thusly: He advanced to third on the play, taking advantage of the fielder's positioning to grab an extra base. But he stole home.

   29. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: March 03, 2014 at 03:59 PM (#4665579)
Cano certainly hustled his ass off on that play. If Jeter did that it would lead Sportscenter.
   30. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: March 03, 2014 at 04:14 PM (#4665599)
If Jeter ever bats lefthanded, it should lead Sportscenter. Even if he doesn't bunt for a double against a shift.
   31. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: March 03, 2014 at 04:20 PM (#4665606)
The scoring rules are very specific about stolen bases and fielder's choices, and I'm pretty sure that the Ryan play wouldn't qualify as either.
   32. Rants Mulliniks Posted: March 03, 2014 at 04:21 PM (#4665608)
Since we don't have a team error, I would have scored it as a fielders choice.


If that's a fielder's choice, how is it not a fielder's choice when a 3b holds off on grabbing a bunt up the line, hoping for it to go foul, and its stays fair?

I agree that we need to have team errors, and that nobody should have to touch the ball for one to be called.
   33. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: March 03, 2014 at 04:26 PM (#4665618)
Wouldn't team errors almost always be plays where no one touches the ball?
   34. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 03, 2014 at 04:32 PM (#4665624)
The scoring rules are very specific about stolen bases and fielder's choices, and I'm pretty sure that the Ryan play wouldn't qualify as either.



The official scorer shall credit a stolen base to a runner whenever the runner advances one base unaided by a hit, a putout, an error, a force-out, a fielder’s choice, a passed ball, a wild pitch or a balk


I don't know how this play differs meaningfully from the delayed steal, which basically takes advantage of the defensive team's lack of awareness.


Wouldn't team errors almost always be plays where no one touches the ball?


Usually, but not always. If two infielders collide in pursuit of a pop-up and the ball gets knocked to the turf as a result, that could be a team error.

   35. cardsfanboy Posted: March 03, 2014 at 04:42 PM (#4665632)
If that's a fielder's choice, how is it not a fielder's choice when a 3b holds off on grabbing a bunt up the line, hoping for it to go foul, and its stays fair?


Generally they are holding off because the play is going to be too close for them to make the out, so it's arguably a single. Generally you err on the side of the benefit of the batter.

Mind you, my interpretation of it, isn't the official rule book interpretation of the play or anything, just the way I felt how I would call that particular play.
   36. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: March 03, 2014 at 04:48 PM (#4665641)
The official scorer shall credit a stolen base to a runner whenever the runner advances one base unaided by a hit, a putout, an error, a force-out, a fielder’s choice, a passed ball, a wild pitch or a balk


You left out the "subject to the following:" part. Which is almost two pages and all deals with plays that begin with the ball in the pitcher's hands. Advances that that follow a hit or an error are never scored as stolen bases, even if the action is not what you or I would consider continuous.

Usually, but not always.


I don't know how this phrasing differs meaningfully from "almost always." ;-)
   37. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: March 03, 2014 at 04:50 PM (#4665643)
Mind you, my interpretation of it, isn't the official rule book interpretation of the play or anything, just the way I felt how I would call that particular play.


Fair enough. My point is simply that official scorers actually have much less discretion in how they score plays than is generally assumed.
   38. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: March 03, 2014 at 05:07 PM (#4665654)
the utility of the team error.

or as I like to call them, HUAs (headupass). They capture all of these situations where it's not an error, not necessarily a FC, but certainly a play that leads to a less than favorable result for somebody. Runners, and batters should also be awarded HUAs, or offensive/batting team errors.
   39. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 03, 2014 at 05:12 PM (#4665657)
You left out the "subject to the following:" part. Which is almost two pages and all deals with plays that begin with the ball in the pitcher's hands. Advances that that follow a hit or an error are never scored as stolen bases, even if the action is not what you or I would consider continuous.


Those are examples used to both granting the SB and nullifying it, but I don't see anything that necessarily precludes it. The point is, it doesn't specify that a pitch has to be thrown for a stolen base to be granted (and, in fact, we know a pitch doesn't have to be thrown).

Regardless what it says now, there should be a mechanism for explaining any advancement on the diamond. And if there isn't, which appears to be the case now, then the rule book should be amended to deal with it. Call it a SB, or a team error, or something, but Ryan singles, Ryan to third isn't sufficient, IMO.
   40. dave h Posted: March 03, 2014 at 05:39 PM (#4665672)
We already have runners advancing on the throw (for instance going to second on a throw home) - is that technically a fielder's choice? I always mark it with a T when I keep score.
   41. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: March 03, 2014 at 06:34 PM (#4665709)
I don't see anything that necessarily precludes it.


In terms of a strict reading, yes. But given that stolen bases used to be awarded for taking extra bases on hits, and that practice was deliberately ended in 1898, I'm pretty confident in saying that the intent of the current stolen base rules is that they apply only to bases taken while the ball is being pitched (in the broadest sense of that so as to include things like getting the ball back from the catcher, pickoff throws, or just standing on the mound with the ball not noticing that a runner is advancing).

We already have runners advancing on the throw (for instance going to second on a throw home) - is that technically a fielder's choice? I always mark it with a T when I keep score.


I got into the habit of marking those with a T, too, probably because it's a way too common occurrence in youth baseball. But technically, yes, advancing on a throw is a fielder's choice:

FIELDER’S CHOICE is the act of a fielder who handles a fair grounder and,
instead of throwing to first base to put out the batter-runner, throws to another base in an
attempt to put out a preceding runner. The term is also used by scorers (a) to account for
the advance of the batter-runner who takes one or more extra bases when the fielder who
handles his safe hit attempts to put out a preceding runner; (b) to account for the advance
of a runner (other than by stolen base or error) while a fielder is attempting to put out
another runner; and (c) to account for the advance of a runner made solely because of the
defensive team’s indifference (undefended steal).


For whatever reason, PBP accounts usually only use the term when a batter-runner reaches as a result. And again, this doesn't fit the Ryan play since there was no other runner to attempt to make a play on, and the defense wasn't indifferent to his taking the extra bases.
   42. Karl from NY Posted: March 03, 2014 at 06:45 PM (#4665715)
or as I like to call them, HUAs (headupass).

We've got this, it's the ARTALAN, the opposite of a TOOTBLAN. http://www.pitchershiteighth.com/2012/09/07/tootblan-artalan/

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