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Saturday, July 19, 2014

MLB.COM - Toman: Lewis takes exception with Rasmus’ bunt

Rasmus, who singled and later scored off Lewis in the fourth, laid down a bunt with two outs and Toronto up, 2-0, in the fifth, with the Rangers playing the shift on him. Lewis fielded the ball, but Rasmus reached first base safely and was credited with an infield single.

“I told [Rasmus] I didn’t appreciate it,” Lewis said. “You’re up by two runs with two outs and you lay down a bunt. I don’t think that’s the way the game should be played.”

When pressed further on what the problem with Rasmus’ bunt was, Lewis insinuated that the outfielder put himself before his team.

“I felt like you have a situation where there is two outs, you’re up two runs, you have gotten a hit earlier in the game off me, we are playing the shift, and he laid down a bunt basically simply for average,” Lewis said.

The bunt itself wasn’t the only thing that bothered Lewis, who threw five innings of two-run ball, falling to 6-7 on the season. Lewis felt that if Rasmus was going to bunt in that situation, he should have been taking off for second once he reached base.

“[Rasmus] didn’t steal within the first two pitches to put himself in scoring position,” Lewis said. “That tells me he is solely looking out for himself, and looking out for batting average. And I didn’t appreciate it.”

Does someone want to play devil’s advocate here?  Because I’m lost.

Lassus Posted: July 19, 2014 at 08:44 PM | 123 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: unmitigated gall, unwritten rules

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   1. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: July 20, 2014 at 12:13 AM (#4754585)
Apparently trying to beat the shift with a small lead is unwritten rules. Lewis has no real gripe here.
   2. theboyqueen Posted: July 20, 2014 at 12:13 AM (#4754586)
Does someone want to play devil’s advocate here?  Because I’m lost.


Uhhh...no.
   3. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 20, 2014 at 12:14 AM (#4754587)
Players upset that other players are trying to compete. A shift is designed to beat the hitter but the hitter can't try to beat the shift. smh.
   4. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: July 20, 2014 at 12:22 AM (#4754589)
Choo, DH
Andrus, SS
Robertson, RF
Beltre, 3B
Smolinski, LF
Martin, CF
Arencibia, 1B
Odor, 2B
Chirinos, C

Yeah, Lewis sounds like an ass here, but I can see why he might be feeling a bit testy.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: July 20, 2014 at 12:22 AM (#4754590)
Well ...

Lewis' logic seems to be that, with two outs and nobody on, the best thing Rasmus can do for his team is hit a HR or get into scoring position. In fact, Lewis seems to think that is the only possible way Rasmus can help his team once there are two outs and nobody on.

It therefore is one thing to get a single swinging away or even draw a walk if you get nothing in your zone, but bunting is intentionally limiting yourself to at best a single base (since nobody ever makes an error on a bunt). Even such an affront to honour might be acceptable if the cur at least had the common decency to try to steal second base to turn his milquetoast bunt single into the equivalent of a gentleman's double.

Mr. Rasmus, a well-known selfish Puig, chose none of the acceptable approaches. If Brian McCann had been on the field, I am sure Rasmus would have been properly admonished.
   6. McCoy Posted: July 20, 2014 at 12:28 AM (#4754592)
Seems like a perfect time to do some game theory work. . . for both of them. Rangers and all other teams have to at least think about Rasmus bunting so they'll have to think about when to put the shift on and where to put the fielders more. With Lewis jawing at Rasmus he might just get into Colby's head and either make him hit into the teeth of their shifts more or possibly forego the power to keep on dropping bunts to piss the Blue Jays off.
   7. theboyqueen Posted: July 20, 2014 at 12:28 AM (#4754593)
Colby Lewis looks like he's been pounding the donuts lately. Maybe he was mad about having to waddle off the mound and field the thing?
   8. Cooper Nielson Posted: July 20, 2014 at 12:40 AM (#4754595)
Maybe it was one of those "I was here first, choose a different name!" spats.
   9. PreservedFish Posted: July 20, 2014 at 12:41 AM (#4754596)
This really doesn't make sense. If Lewis honestly believed that Rasmus was just padding his average (as opposed to actually trying to win the game), shouldn't he just confidently enjoy it? Your opponent stopped trying to win. That's good for your team.
   10. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 20, 2014 at 12:54 AM (#4754598)

Players upset that other players are trying to compete. A shift is designed to beat the hitter but the hitter can't try to beat the shift. smh.


Specifically, the shift is designed to prevent a single, which is what a bunt will deliver. If such an outcome is so rotten for the Blue Jays, why the hell are the Rangers working so hard to keep that from happening?

This might be the single dumbest gripe in baseball history, which is impressive given the long run of stupid gripes.

   11. Random Transaction Generator Posted: July 20, 2014 at 01:07 AM (#4754600)
The article (which I also submitted, with "whining" as one of the alternate tags) has my favourite part:

Lewis said he believes Rasmus knew he made a mistake based on what he said to the pitcher on the field.

"Whatever, he thought he could say two words the whole time, which is whatever, which is what most people respond with when they know they are in the wrong," Lewis said.


Lewis yelled at Rasmus, Rasmus blew him off with a "whatever", and Lewis took that to mean Rasmus knew he was "in the wrong".
Sounds like Lewis tried to engage Rasmus in a shouting match (and maybe get a quick benches-clearing-stand-around-and-mingle) to fire up the team.
Rasmus blew him off which REALLY got under Lewis' skin, so he makes up the "know they are in the wrong" bullshit.

   12. EvilBoWeevil Posted: July 20, 2014 at 01:14 AM (#4754601)
So I guess Lewis was saying that with his team down 2-0 the game was out of hand. If he doesn't want Ramus to bunt maybe his team should play straight up, no shift.
   13. greenback calls it soccer Posted: July 20, 2014 at 01:27 AM (#4754602)
So I guess Lewis was saying that with his team down 2-0 the game was out of hand.

No, he was saying something much stranger than that. He yelled at an opponent because that opponent was making it easier for Lewis to win.

My guess is that the firm establishment of the don't-bunt-during-no-hitters rule has convinced pitchers that bunts-for-hits are generally an affront to pitchers.
   14. AuntBea Posted: July 20, 2014 at 01:30 AM (#4754603)
This is the natural result of letting the inmates run the asylum.
   15. theboyqueen Posted: July 20, 2014 at 01:32 AM (#4754604)
"Whatever, he thought he could say two words the whole time, which is whatever, which is what most people respond with when they know they are in the wrong"


This sentence is a work of art.
   16. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: July 20, 2014 at 01:36 AM (#4754606)
I'm more of an unwritten rule adherent than most around here and I can't figure this out at all. What the #### is Lewis ######## about?
   17. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: July 20, 2014 at 01:46 AM (#4754607)
Given that entering the night, Lewis had an ERA of 6.54, and had given up 127 hits in 84 innings, with a slash line of .353/.395/.539, bunting is probably the most merciful thing Rasmus could have done to Lewis.
   18. Rob_Wood Posted: July 20, 2014 at 02:32 AM (#4754609)
This is not an uncommon feeling. Joe Morgan used to sound off on this type of thing when he was doing Sunday Night Baseball.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: July 20, 2014 at 03:05 AM (#4754610)
What the #### is Lewis ######## about?

Again ... not that I can read Lewis's mind but...

bunting against the shift with nobody out is probably acceptable.

With two outs, a true team player knows that it is pointless to only reach first base. A batter, especially a "slugger" like Rasmus (who does have a 190 career ISO), should be swinging for the fences in this situation because that is the best, maybe only, hope his team has to score this inning. Especially with a stud pitcher like Lewis on the mound.

If, despite your manly efforts, you only reach 1B, you should attempt a steal of second to get into scoring position because we all know it is impossible to score from first base.

(Minor nit, Lewis doesn't specifically complain about bunting against the shift here, he complains only about bunting with two outs.)

It's not entirely nuts to hold that a batter should be going for it in such a situation. Recall, The Book claims that the best guy for the #3 spot in the lineup is a slugger who maybe doesn't walk much (depending on how many great hitters you have available obviously) because they come up with 2 outs and nobody on more than any other lineup spot. A single/walk with 2 outs isn't worth a whole lot (on average, all else equal, blah blah blah).

I particularly agree that the break-even point for a baserunner on 1B with two outs is pretty low. However I note that, surprising to me, Rasmus is only 24 for 39 career and hasn't stolen a base and just one attempt since 2012. Toronto is 12th with just 40 steals so I assume this is a team-wide edict so put that on the manager.

Anyway, along those lines, I always figured that Soriano was about the perfect #3 hitter by the Book (assuming he wasn't in your top 3 hitters). In his prime he'd hit about 40 doubles, 30-35 HR and steal 30-40 bases -- exactly what you want from a guy batting with 2 outs and nobody on. His low OBP isn't gonna hurt much in that circumstance.

Given his power, Rasmus probably should be going for it with 2 outs and nobody on, at least most of the time.

Doesn't make him selfish or un-manly for bunting. Lewis is nuts on that front ... but should love playing with Arencibia.

   20. madvillain Posted: July 20, 2014 at 03:18 AM (#4754612)
test this dude for psychedelics because he's tripping hard.
   21. #6bid is partially elite Posted: July 20, 2014 at 03:19 AM (#4754613)
If the broadcast had simply ignored the on-field action in order to interview Derek Jeter, no one would know or care about Rasmus' bunting shenanigans.
   22. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 20, 2014 at 07:23 AM (#4754620)
It's been a season from hell for Colby Lewis. Might we give him a little bit of slack?
   23. Guapo Posted: July 20, 2014 at 07:34 AM (#4754622)
Alternate theory: Lewis has Rasmus on his fantasy team and really needs HRs and SBs.
   24. shoewizard Posted: July 20, 2014 at 08:20 AM (#4754627)
Well Dan Johnson, the guy behind rasmus, has a 3.6% HR rate in his career, and with Lewis pitching thats gotta like double right ?

P.s. Johnson had an rbi double off lewis in this game.

P.s.s. lewis is a jackass.
   25. Rennie's Tenet Posted: July 20, 2014 at 08:20 AM (#4754628)
What Rasmus didn't understand was that Texas was deploying Shift 22. If they give you the bunt, you can't have the bunt. That's some shift, that Shift 22....
   26. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: July 20, 2014 at 09:08 AM (#4754633)
#23 is by far the best explanation.
   27. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 20, 2014 at 09:22 AM (#4754638)
I'm more of an unwritten rule adherent than most around here and I can't figure this out at all. What the #### is Lewis ######## about?


Basically it's that Lewis's team should compete and try to win, but their opponent should not.

   28. JJ1986 Posted: July 20, 2014 at 09:34 AM (#4754640)
Even if Rasmus was trying to pad his stats at the expense of his team, shouldn't Lewis be happy about that? Unless he only cares about his own stats.
   29. salvomania Posted: July 20, 2014 at 11:08 AM (#4754651)
Well Dan Johnson, the guy behind rasmus, has a 3.6% HR rate in his career, and with Lewis pitching thats gotta like double right ?

And guys like Dan Johnson never hit an unexpected home run.

   30. Swedish Chef Posted: July 20, 2014 at 12:28 PM (#4754670)
Sounds like Lewis is one of those poker players who berates any player who makes a mistake and still wins.
   31. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: July 20, 2014 at 12:31 PM (#4754673)
Sounds like Lewis is one of those poker players who berates any player who makes a mistake and still wins.


Had a guy like that in our group. He's no longer welcome
   32. formerly dp Posted: July 20, 2014 at 12:40 PM (#4754677)
FWIW, he did steal a base later in the game. What Lewis said was pretty dumb, but you can understand him being aggro right now-- Texas is sucking, and he's a primary culprit.
   33. cardsfanboy Posted: July 20, 2014 at 12:40 PM (#4754678)
Sounds like Lewis is one of those poker players who berates any player who makes a mistake and still wins.


Man I hate those #######.... We have a free to enter tournament every week, winner gets a pair of Cardinal tickets, and about a third of the guys who enter think they are pro-players and berates people who play hands they probably shouldn't and win. It's hilarious because these guys almost never make it to the final table and it's always because "Someone played Q 8 off suit."....

   34. Spahn Insane Posted: July 20, 2014 at 02:14 PM (#4754700)
"Not the way the game should be played" complaints about guys actually trying to win are stupid, at all times, without exception. This, however, takes the cake--a 2 run lead in the fifth inning, and you're getting your knickers in a twist about an opposing hitter having the temerity to foil your shift. Holy christ. This might be the whiniest whine that's ever been whined.

EDIT: It's been a season from hell for Colby Lewis. Might we give him a little bit of slack?

No.

   35. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: July 20, 2014 at 02:33 PM (#4754706)
I take from this thread that Walt Davis is the only person capable of reading for comprehension.
   36. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 20, 2014 at 02:57 PM (#4754715)
I take from this thread that Walt Davis is the only person capable of reading for comprehension.


No. We have more than Lewis's words; we have the context of what the game situation was. The fact is that Lewis's team was playing the shift, and that Rasmus bunted against the shift, and that Rasmus reached first. Those are the base circumstances which irritated Lewis. Then we have Lewis's comments.

By Walt's interpretation of Lewis's "logic," even a traditional base hit single would have irritated Lewis, if Rasmus didn't follow the single with a steal. Of course, that makes no sense even by Lewis's standards, since Lewis to my knowledge has never complained when someone got a traditional single off of him. So that leaves the shift and the bunt against the shift -- for alleged average-padding -- which is what set Lewis off.

And Walt is wrong when he says "Minor nit, Lewis doesn't specifically complain about bunting against the shift here, he complains only about bunting with two outs." No. Lewis said: "I felt like you have a situation where there is two outs, you’re up two runs, you have gotten a hit earlier in the game off me, we are playing the shift, and he laid down a bunt basically simply for average.” The shift is most certainly not only a component of Lewis's complaint; it is integral to it. Walt misses that.
   37. Sleepy supports unauthorized rambling Posted: July 20, 2014 at 04:30 PM (#4754747)
Is this the first time in MLB history that two players named Colby have been involved in a spat? Maybe not; B-R says there have been a surprising number of players with the name "colby" in the majors, some first, some middle, some last; I would suspect that the most likely source of prior colby-vs-colby is colby rasmus vs Clayton Colby Richard, when CR was a cardinal and CCR was with SDP. But I don't remember anything happening there.

   38. Swedish Chef Posted: July 20, 2014 at 04:50 PM (#4754755)
I take from this thread that Walt Davis is the only person capable of reading for comprehension.

I thought I was fairly clear, but I could dumb down my comment for you if you'd like.
   39. cardsfanboy Posted: July 20, 2014 at 04:52 PM (#4754757)
Even if Lewis was being honest with his argument, (which is that he was upset because Rasmus was clearly only caring about his personal stats and not the team) he would have been wrong. By Rasmus getting on base, regardless of his decision to not try and steal, he managed to up the pitch count of the opposing pitcher, moved the batting order one spot and apparently also managed to get under the skin of the opposing pitcher and changes the likelihood of a run scoring from 6% to roughly 12%....all of those are benefits for the team. So sure, Rasmus was being a greedy self centered, stat whore, the likes of which we haven't seen before, but the funny thing about baseball, is that what is good for the individual is often also good for the team.
   40. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: July 20, 2014 at 07:36 PM (#4754839)
This sort of thing is surprisingly common. As always, the correct response is "I will stop trying to win when the game is over. If Colby Lewis wants that to happen in the fifth inning, he should suggest to Mr. Washington that the Rangers should forfeit. I'm sure that Mr. Washington would be interested to hear that opinion from one of his players."
   41. shoewizard Posted: July 20, 2014 at 07:39 PM (#4754840)
Here is another point. Rasmus has a career .246 ba, and his personal best is .276

If he was being selfish he would be forgoing trying tomget on base and just try to beat the shift by hitting a homer. He is a FA after this season. If he is gonna get paid, its gonna be cuz he's hitting homers, not bunting to beat the shift and extending the inning like CFB says above.

Just absurd all around
   42. Sunday silence Posted: July 20, 2014 at 07:52 PM (#4754845)
doesnt Walt's analysis also depend upon a rather precise evaluation of what his odds were of bunting for a base hit with that particular shift on? I would gather if his odds were 50% or better it could jolly well be a better strategy to bunt for the base hit.
   43. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 20, 2014 at 07:57 PM (#4754849)
I would gather if his odds were 50% or better it could jolly well be a better strategy to bunt for the base hit.


If Colby Rasmus can get on base at a 50 percent clip, it's a damn better strategy than any alternative.

   44. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: July 20, 2014 at 08:06 PM (#4754854)
Oh, Lewis isn't doing any precise evaluation. He's not doing any evaluation at all. He's just pissed off that he sucks, and the inane "I'm mad that my opponent is putting himself above his team" is his best attempt at a cover story.
   45. Rob_Wood Posted: July 20, 2014 at 08:09 PM (#4754855)
I think you guys might be overlooking the key point here since it is so easy to pile on Lewis. Forget about Lewis. Just think of what Rasmus was doing. Bunting in that situation could be considered to be selfish, striving for personal stats rather than maximizing the likelihood of helping his team. Especially when Rod Carew first came up, but also throughout his career, his TEAMMATES criticized him for bunting so much, like with a runner on base with two outs or any time with two strikes. Steve Garvey used to infuriate his TEAMMATES by bunting so much, since he actually had some power to hit the ball out of the park. And, as I said above, Sunday Night Baseball analyst Joe Morgan was outspoken in his criticism of several players who bunted in game-situations in which a bunt was not a good strategic move. (Of course, Morgan extended the criticism to any player in the middle of the lineup who took a walk in an RBI situation with two outs.) I am not taking sides here, clearly Lewis should not have said anything, but a current runs throughout baseball history dealing with the proprieties of bunting that should not be ignored.
   46. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 20, 2014 at 08:24 PM (#4754861)
I am not taking sides here, clearly Lewis should not have said anything, but a current runs throughout baseball history dealing with the proprieties of bunting that should not be ignored.


This is undeniably true, and I'd go even further. I get the sense there is a substantial portion of the baseball playing world who think bunting for hits is, by and large, for pussies.


   47. McCoy Posted: July 20, 2014 at 08:26 PM (#4754862)
Carew had 40 bunts in his career with 2 outs. He got 37 hits out of it. He did it 3 times with a runner on third and all 3 times he got the runner in. He also bunted 5 times with a runner on second and all 5 times he advanced the runner and twice there was an error on the play that allowed the lead runner to score with one of those times winning the game for his team.

For his career he got on base 161 times in 181 bunt attempts. Carew has some rather amazing bunt stats. For instance he got on base 3 times out of 37 attempts with a runner on first over his career.
   48. greenback calls it soccer Posted: July 20, 2014 at 09:14 PM (#4754881)
a current runs throughout baseball history dealing with the proprieties of bunting that should not be ignored.

You know, Colby Rasmus was criticized by his manager during a nationally televised game on Fox for a two-out bunt attempt. The bunt attempt happened to take place immediately before the dreaded in-game interview with the manager, and Tony La Russa was never afraid of criticizing some of Colby Rasmus's decision-making. It's remarkable that he might not be the biggest idiot named Colby in this scene.
   49. Rob_Wood Posted: July 20, 2014 at 09:18 PM (#4754885)
McCoy is correct that Carew (and Garvey) were over-whelmingly successful bunters in their careers. That makes their teammates' criticism of it more noteworthy, not less.
   50. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: July 20, 2014 at 09:26 PM (#4754889)
Carew had 40 bunts in his career with 2 outs. He got 37 hits out of it.


This has got to be some sort of misinterpretation of the split data.
   51. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: July 20, 2014 at 09:39 PM (#4754893)
For his career he got on base 161 times in 181 bunt attempts.


First of all, this has to exclude SH attempts, as he is credited with 128 of them. Surely he didn't reach base in at least 108 of them. Second, an .890 BA on bunting for a hit attempts? I'd have to see the data to believe it was anywhere near that. That's way beyond amazing. I'm not nearly so savvy with P-I to be able to generate the info myself.
   52. cardsfanboy Posted: July 20, 2014 at 09:52 PM (#4754898)
First of all, this has to exclude SH attempts, as he is credited with 128 of them. Surely he didn't reach base in at least 108 of them. Second, an .890 BA on bunting for a hit attempts? I'd have to see the data to believe it was anywhere near that. That's way beyond amazing. I'm not nearly so savvy with P-I to be able to generate the info myself.


Not sure where they got all the data from, but from baseball prospectus..

Most Attempts                        Most Hits
Name              Bunts  Hits   Pct  Name            Bunts Hits   Pct
Brett Butler       442    226  .511  Brett Butler     442   226  .511
Otis Nixon         344    158  .459  Kenny Lofton     297   175  .589
Juan Pierre        335    140  .418  Otis Nixon       344   158  .459
Maury Wills        307    149  .485  Rod Carew        190   151  .795
Kenny Lofton       297    175  .589  Maury Wills      307   149  .485
Alfredo Griffin    222     84  .378  Juan Pierre      335   140  .418
Omar Vizquel       213    127  .596  Matty Alou       211   133  .630
Roberto Alomar     213    126  .592  Omar Vizquel     213   127  .596
Matty Alou         211    133  .630  Roberto Alomar   213   126  .592
Larry Bowa         211    103  .488  Paul Molitor     179   107  .598

Highest Success Rate 
(50attempts)  Lowest Success Rate (50attempts)
Name             Bunts  Hits   Pct   Name           Bunts   Hits  Pct
Steve Garvey       75     62  .827   Pat Listach       57    15  .263
Lee Mazzilli       51     41  .804   Nelson Liriano    63    18  .286
Rod Carew         190    151  .795   Rick Miller       67    21  .313
Dave Hollins       50     38  .760   Darren Lewis     140    44  .314
Manny Mota         55     40  .727   Tommy Davis       56    18  .321
Rob Wilfong        87     63  .724   Chone Figgins     77    25  .325
Don Blasingame     93     67  .720   Joey Gathright    61    20  .328
Mickey Rivers      87     61  .701   Brian McRae      146    49  .336
Jose Valentin      78     53  .679   Cookie Rojas      68    23  .338
Jeff Cirillo       61     41  .672   Ozzie Guillen    127    43  .339 
   53. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: July 20, 2014 at 09:54 PM (#4754899)
OK, here's what I can generate for Carew using P-I event finder. Under singles, he's credited with 151 bunt ground balls. Under non strikeout outs, he has 139 bunt ground ball and 7 bunt popups. I don't know if that bunt ground ball includes SHs, but under SH attempts, he has 189 attempts, 182 ground ball, 5 popup, 2 unknown. I don't know what to make of all this. Were his 128 successful attempts counted in the 139 bunt ground ball outs?, If so, then that implies the only times he attempted a SH but didn't get one (aside from the handful of popups), is because he was safe at first. He never had the lead runner thrown out? he never had an attempt to get the lead runner which failed and he got a FC anyway? It also implies that every time he simply attempted a bunt for a hit, he was successful nearly 100% of the time, and he did it only ~ 100 times in his career. That strains credulity.
   54. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: July 20, 2014 at 10:09 PM (#4754912)
Well, those numbers from CFB are sure stunning. I sit corrected. Still trying to figure out the P-I data for Carew.
   55. cardsfanboy Posted: July 20, 2014 at 10:13 PM (#4754914)
Well, those numbers from CFB are sure stunning. I sit corrected. Still trying to figure out the P-I data for Carew.


That article separates bunts for hits vs bunt attempts though.
   56. greenback calls it soccer Posted: July 20, 2014 at 10:20 PM (#4754917)
The worse ten bunters have a collective ~.315 average on bunts? There's some self-selection, but something is missing here.
   57. McCoy Posted: July 20, 2014 at 10:25 PM (#4754919)
Carew was 91 for 112 when bunting with the bases empty.
   58. cardsfanboy Posted: July 20, 2014 at 10:26 PM (#4754920)
The worse ten bunters have a collective ~.315 average on bunts? There's some self-selection, but something is missing here.


Worse ten with 50 career attempts.

I fully expect that on bunt attempts the overall average is going to be higher than babip by a pretty good margin.
   59. McCoy Posted: July 20, 2014 at 10:36 PM (#4754927)
Apparently from 1973 to 1982 MLB went 2503/4028 with 51 ROE for a .621 BA on bunt attempts with the bases empty.

10 yr increments:
1953-.690
1963-.700
1973-.621
1983-.482
1993-.473
2003-.453
2013-.461

From 1988 through present day MLB has a .399 BA on bunt attempts overall.

Looks like something fishy is going on with the data from before the 1980's.
   60. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 20, 2014 at 10:48 PM (#4754938)
This is undeniably true, and I'd go even further. I get the sense there is a substantial portion of the baseball playing world who think bunting for hits is, by and large, for pussies.


I don't know; certainly if you're a speed guy/slap hitter nobody gets upset at the bunting.

I love that Lewis thought it was significant that Rasmus, who has attempted two steals since 2012, didn't attempt a steal.
   61. McCoy Posted: July 20, 2014 at 10:51 PM (#4754939)
For the most part it looks like reliable information really only started to come about in the 1980's and I wouldn't really trust anything before hit trajectory was introduced in 1988. So as to removed potential SH issues if we merely look at bunt attempts with the bases empty Darren Lewis is probably the worst bunter since 1988 in that scenario. He reached base safely 27 times in 100 attempts.
   62. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: July 20, 2014 at 11:07 PM (#4754942)
I don't know; certainly if you're a speed guy/slap hitter nobody gets upset at the bunting.


Yes, and I should have mentioned that. The Billy Hamilton types will get a pass, but there's a healthy percentage of players* who really get aggrieved when non-slappy type hitters try to lay one down for a hit.

* And, as always, there's a healthy percentage who don't give a #### about any of this nonsense.

   63. bjhanke Posted: July 21, 2014 at 07:16 AM (#4754989)
I don't know a lot about the guy who hit behind Rasmus, but I do know that Rasmus runs real well. If the guy behind him hits lots of doubles, especially to RF, Rasmus may well be able to score on a significant percentage of those. So I'm not completely sure that Rasmus was only trying to pad his own stats by bunting for a hit and then not stealing.

As for the general principle, Whitey Herzog used to collect a lot of flak for stealing bases when his team was up 8-2 or something. Whitey's response was perfect. He offered to stop stealing when he had a big lead if the opposition would stop trying to hit any homers when they had the big leads. Whitey's opinion seemed to be that SB reduce later DPs. That, of course, does not apply when there are two out. But the principle is the same as Rasmus bunting. It's only a 2-0 lead. Playing for one run is a good idea. Rasmus can score on a high percentage of doubles, much less triples and homers. Any time a team is willing to offer you a more or less guaranteed trip on base, take it. After all, if there are 2 out and the shift is on, the pitcher isn't going to throw anything up. So Rasmus' own power was being undercut. He took a trip to first. I agree with that. - Brock Hanke
   64. Jeltzandini Posted: July 21, 2014 at 07:56 AM (#4754997)
Even if Lewis was being honest with his argument, (which is that he was upset because Rasmus was clearly only caring about his personal stats and not the team) he would have been wrong. By Rasmus getting on base, regardless of his decision to not try and steal, he managed to up the pitch count of the opposing pitcher, moved the batting order one spot and apparently also managed to get under the skin of the opposing pitcher and changes the likelihood of a run scoring from 6% to roughly 12%....all of those are benefits for the team.


He also put a marker down in the game theoretical aspects of playing the shift, very possibly influencing future decisions.

Of course picking a defense for Rasmus is overdetermined, because only one person on the planet thinks he did anything wrong.
   65. Batman Posted: July 21, 2014 at 07:58 AM (#4754999)
Lewis is just mad that Mrs. Lewis sometimes cries out Rasmus's first name during sex.
   66. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:51 AM (#4755026)
Yes, and I should have mentioned that. The Billy Hamilton types will get a pass, but there's a healthy percentage of players* who really get aggrieved when non-slappy type hitters try to lay one down for a hit.

I agree, and IMO there are a lot of players who should be bunting far more often given the huge increase in Ks and shifts. e.g., Adam Jones is a terrific bunter, and if he bunted for a hit once ever 20 PAs, so ~35 times a year, he could probably pick up an additional 15-20 singles at the expensive of a couple extra base hits.
   67. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 10:19 AM (#4755041)
The thing with bunting for a base hit is that your SLG is of course capped at one base. So you really need a high success rate for it to be useful. And it appears that hitters do indeed have a high success rate with it.
   68. Moeball Posted: July 21, 2014 at 11:21 AM (#4755116)
Didn't Mantle bunt for hits fairly frequently back in the '50s when he had his speed? With defenses often playing back due to his power, he had a lot of space to work with to lay one down. Not sure how opposing teams reacted to it, however.
   69. Ron J2 Posted: July 21, 2014 at 11:23 AM (#4755120)
#67 There is the point that almost all hitters (Tony Gwynn being the sole exception for the period I have data for) foul off a lot of pitches (only a handful got the in play % higher than 50%) and that has to matter in PAs that they end up hitting away after fouling off a bunt attempt.
   70. Ron J2 Posted: July 21, 2014 at 11:24 AM (#4755122)
#68 No, he never bunted a lot. It hurt him to run flat out.

See also his comment about Pete Rose for his attitude on singles hitting.

"If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete (Rose), I'd wear a dress."
   71. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 11:32 AM (#4755133)
#67 There is the point that almost all hitters (Tony Gwynn being the sole exception for the period I have data for) foul off a lot of pitches (only a handful got the in play % higher than 50%) and that has to matter in PAs that they end up hitting away after fouling off a bunt attempt.


Right, and this is interesting because it's one thing I notice from DMB: you try to lay a bunt down and it seems to go foul three of four times or something.

Another thing I notice from DMB: when you attempt a steal, even with a guy who has a good jump rating, probably two of three times he can't get a good enough jump. (Of course, the hold rating for the pitcher matters too.)

I presume DMB is reflective of real life in that these things are not automatic (getting the bunt fair and actually taking off when you're intending to steal).

   72. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 11:36 AM (#4755139)
"If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete (Rose), I'd wear a dress."


Well, he is named Rose...

But I imagine that sort of comment would get the Mick lit up on Twitter these days for being sexist.
   73. villageidiom Posted: July 21, 2014 at 01:43 PM (#4755252)
Man I hate those #######.... We have a free to enter tournament every week, winner gets a pair of Cardinal tickets, and about a third of the guys who enter think they are pro-players and berates people who play hands they probably shouldn't and win. It's hilarious because these guys almost never make it to the final table and it's always because "Someone played Q 8 off suit."....


The first time I played bridge was in college, with two guys who had also never played, and one guy who played a lot. I played against the experienced guy. And my team stomped his. Basically, my partner and I bid based on what we thought we could do, while our experienced opponent tried to interpret what we'd bid based on bidding conventions. We made every bid, and they missed nearly every bid they attempted.

Man, was he pissed... Our approach didn't fit with his strategy, so naturally he blamed his loss on our playing "wrong".

- - - - -

I had a brother-in-law who got similarly pissed when he lost a bet to me. After we ordered drinks he left for the restroom, which was near the kitchen. On his way he overheard someone saying they didn't know how to make that drink, and someone else telling what the ingredients were. When he came back to the table he made a bet with me that without taking a sip he could name all the ingredients in my drink. As it turned out, one of the listed ingredients was seltzer, but they had forgotten to put it in my drink. A simple taste test proved he had lost the bet.

Keep in mind that I was 14 years old (the drink was basically a specialty milkshake*), and my brother-in-law was in his 30s. He flipped out, told me I cheated, refused to pay, etc. He thought it unfair that his rigged bet wasn't as rigged as he'd thought, and that he wouldn't be able to take a 14-year-old's money.

* I'm glad they screwed up making the drink. Seltzer in this milkshake would have been vile.
   74. Nasty Nate Posted: July 21, 2014 at 02:18 PM (#4755274)
Poker players who complain about people making bad calls are idiots. You want your opponents to make bad calls.
   75. Greg K Posted: July 21, 2014 at 02:32 PM (#4755286)
#73
Reminds me of the time I was at a bar and the bartender was bragging about she made the best caesars EVER. So I asked for one and it did taste unlike any caesar I'd ever had before, and I said as much. She quickly snatched the drink back and said "oops, I forgot to put the vodka in it!"

[Editor's note: for those unaware, vodka is base liquor for a caesar]
   76. Greg K Posted: July 21, 2014 at 02:34 PM (#4755287)
Poker players who complain about people making bad calls are idiots. You want your opponents to make bad calls.

I think that's why I like Euchre so much. Winning is only fun if you do it on a "bad" call, so you can rub it in the other team's face, ordering up your opponent with a 10, or going alone without any bowers. Or maybe my family just plays it differently.
   77. Ron J2 Posted: July 21, 2014 at 02:37 PM (#4755291)
#74 Sure, but it still hurts to lose then. Just as it hurts in bridge to lose to somebody who adopts an inferior line of play that happens to work. Or when they bid a grand slam against you that depends on the KT of trump being onside. (See Eddie Kantar's article "The True Story of the King of Clubs)

Yeah, if you're successful at either game you do learn to deal with it, typically with some version of "in the long run ..."
   78. villageidiom Posted: July 21, 2014 at 05:08 PM (#4755365)
Just as it hurts in bridge to lose to somebody who adopts an inferior line of play that happens to work.
To bring it back to baseball, shifting the infield far to the right is an inferior line of defense in general, and yet is a superior defense for a specific set of circumstances. Likewise, a bunt is an inferior style of hitting in general, but in certain circumstances might be a superior style of hitting. What makes one team's moves superior to their other options is dependent on the context in which they use it.

In my bridge example, our style of play was generally inferior, but in the specific context (one experienced player, three novices) it was a superior style. The key to it being superior is that the experienced player never adjusted. He kept shifting, and we kept bunting.

Getting beat by a bunt can feel cheap, but getting beat by a bunt when your style of play makes a bunt a superior option isn't something that happens to work.
   79. Moeball Posted: July 21, 2014 at 08:22 PM (#4755446)
Didn't Mantle bunt for hits fairly frequently back in the '50s when he had his speed? With defenses often playing back due to his power, he had a lot of space to work with to lay one down. Not sure how opposing teams reacted to it, however.


#68 No, he never bunted a lot. It hurt him to run flat out.

Hmm...I thought I was remembering reading that the Mick did bunt for hits quite a bit and it appears I was correct, at least according to
this article with data from Retrosheet; see list of most lifetime bunt hits at end of article.
   80. McCoy Posted: July 21, 2014 at 08:52 PM (#4755454)
Like I said before I think there is something wonky going on with the data from back then. BRef has Mantle going 75 for 109 in his career on bunt attempts with the bases empty.

Either bunters before 1980'ish were the greatest bunters ever or the fielders just really crappy or there is something going on with the data.
   81. McCoy Posted: July 21, 2014 at 08:58 PM (#4755458)
Apparently Ted Williams was 9 for 10 in bunt attempts with the bases empty and 11/12 with 2 SH overall in bunts according to the limited data we have.
   82. Wahoo Sam Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:00 PM (#4755460)
Any time a batter gets on base and does not make an out, it improves his team's chances of scoring a run.
End of argument.
   83. McCoy Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:01 PM (#4755461)
Here is when you know you're in trouble. Ernie Lombardi was 4/5 with 4 SH in bunt attempts and went 2 for 3 with bases empty in the limited data we have. Anyone buying that?
   84. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:03 PM (#4755462)
Hmm...I thought I was remembering reading that the Mick did bunt for hits quite a bit and it appears I was correct, at least according to
this article with data from Retrosheet; see list of most lifetime bunt hits at end of article.


This is amazing.

Even in Mantle's best season, when he hit for an other-worldly 1.164 OPS and a 202 wRC+, he still managed to lay down 11 bunt-hits with the bases empty.
   85. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:04 PM (#4755465)
BRef has Mantle going 75 for 109 in his career on bunt attempts with the bases empty.

The article Moeball linked has him 80 for 148, .541, with the bases empty. That's completely plausible, given how deep they probably played the Mick.
   86. McCoy Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:12 PM (#4755471)
The article Moeball linked has him 80 for 148, .541, with the bases empty. That's completely plausible, given how deep they probably played the Mick

Now look at the list and tell me if you notice that pretty much all of the insanely high success rates for bunting with bases empty happened before the 1980's. Then take a look at my ten year break down up above where you can see that as the data gets more complete and reliable the success rates tumble dramatically. The data isn't reliable at all.
   87. McCoy Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:15 PM (#4755474)
Here it is again:

10 yr increments:
1953-.690
1963-.700
1973-.621
1983-.482
1993-.473
2003-.453
2013-.461


Those numbers aren't for a single player or for the best bunters but the entire major leagues! You honestly believe that the entire major league had a 70% success rate on bunt attempts from 1963 to 1972?
   88. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:18 PM (#4755478)
Those numbers aren't for a single player or for the best bunters but the entire major leagues! You honestly believe that the entire major league had a 70% success rate on bunt attempts from 1963 to 1972?

I agree the BRef data looks wonky. But the article quotes Retrosheet data. If you look at his best single season list, there are plenty of guys from the 90's and 2000's

How do the total attempts vary over those increments?
   89. PreservedFish Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:20 PM (#4755479)
Also, these are like those troublesome "hitting .450 with a 0-0 count" numbers. If the bunter misses or fouls it off and doesn't try again, it doesn't get charted as an unsuccessful attempt, but he has wasted a strike.
   90. McCoy Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:26 PM (#4755481)
According to the data for bunt attempts with the bases empty

1980: .587
1981: .542
1982: .696
1983: .677 201 PA
1984: .580
1985: .502
1986: .501
1987: .429
1988: .470
1989: .448 812 PA
   91. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:29 PM (#4755484)
According to the data for bunt attempts with the bases empty

1980: .587
1981: .542
1982: .696
1983: .677 201 PA
1984: .580
1985: .502
1986: .501
1987: .429
1988: .470
1989: .448 812 PA


Well, if bunt attempts quadrupled, I wouldn't be shocked at all to see that decline in BA. It means players are being much less selective.
   92. McCoy Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:33 PM (#4755485)
I agree the BRef data looks wonky. But the article quotes Retrosheet data. If you look at his best single season list, there are plenty of guys from the 90's and 2000's

How do the total attempts vary over those increments?


BRef uses the Retrosheet data. The only difference is that Retrosheet will give data to researchers and writers that isn't on Retrosheet.


His lists have all the best bunters as a % of their hits playing well before 1987. Neifi's insane 70% success rate in 2002 is the only really insane mark as compared to league averages post 1987 on his single season list. Meanwhile not a single season from before the 1989 season shows up on his worst list.

The numbers don't add up to real facts.
   93. McCoy Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:34 PM (#4755486)
Well, if bunt attempts quadrupled, I wouldn't be shocked at all to see that decline in BA. It means players are being much less selective.

Bunts didn't quadruple. The actual counting of bunts went up.
   94. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:37 PM (#4755490)
Bunts didn't quadruple. The actual counting of bunts went up.

How is that possible?
   95. McCoy Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:44 PM (#4755496)
How is that possible?

I'm not sure how this is hard to understand. Baseball and stat keepers didn't keep track of all the same things that we keep track of now and at the same level of detail. You don't really think that Frank Chance is the greatest and smartest basestealer of all time because he stole 403 bases while never getting caught do you?
   96. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:49 PM (#4755500)
I'm not sure how this is hard to understand. Baseball and stat keepers didn't keep track of all the same things that we keep track of now and at the same level of detail. You don't really think that Frank Chance is the greatest and smartest basestealer of all time because he stole 403 bases while never getting caught do you?

No, but it's pretty hard to imagine that stat keepers in the mid-80's all of a sudden decided to start tracking bunts. That's not exactly the dark ages of MLB.

The issue is not like the CS one, because they are tracking bunts throughout the sample, just far fewer.
   97. Moeball Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:54 PM (#4755503)
Also, these are like those troublesome "hitting .450 with a 0-0 count" numbers. If the bunter misses or fouls it off and doesn't try again, it doesn't get charted as an unsuccessful attempt, but he has wasted a strike.


Good point!

My guess is that a couple of things have been happening - 1)the hitters with the really high % of success on bunting for hits may be picking their spots really well - they don't try to bunt for a hit every time up; they only do it when they notice a defensive setup that really lends itself to going for it. In Mantle's case it may have been when he saw fielders positioned exceptionally deep. I can actually imagine the Lombardi numbers may make sense, too, in the context of how deep defenses often positioned themselves when he was up. In the modern game I would expect to see more batters start to employ this strategy if the usage of defensive shifts continues to increase. 2) As #89 points out, there may be "unsuccessful" bunt attempts that aren't getting included in the data that would otherwise bring the success % down somewhat.

I know this may sound like I'm getting into "things were better in our day" kind of talk, but I do wonder sometimes as to what % of major league players actually are effective bunters and whether that % has gone up or down in recent generations. I would think it has gone down due to lack of use. Teams don't use the sacrifice as frequently as they used to and it does seem kind of silly sometimes to have a power hitter up there trying to lay one down when you think he could hit one out. But it's also frustrating to see the scenarios such as the Padres experienced yesterday:

Bottom of the 9th, tie game 1-1. Quentin pinch hits and walks; Maybin pinch runs for Quentin. Man on first, no one out. Amarista tries to lay down sacrifice bunt, Mets pitcher can't handle it (gets charged with E-1), now there are runners on first and second with no one out. Once you are in the situation where you have a runner on second and no one out and you only need one run to win the game - this is the one time where effectively using the bunt is the optimal strategy with the highest % chance of getting your team to win the game. You don't even need any hits to win the game, just effective contact. But most players - particularly the big hitters - don't have the skill to execute the play in this situation. Sure enough, Chase Headley came up next - failed on an attempt to get the bunt down and wound up swinging away - and grounding into a double play leaving the Padres in a two outs, runner on third situation. This basically killed the rally. It was only due to the pitcher's inability to field a dribbler by Seth Smith (hilariously ruled an infield single by the scorer - in reality it was another E-1)that the Padres were able to get the winning run home. It wasn't due to great bunting skill.

Finally - one more link - here's the Mick in his retirement years talking about how to properly lay down a drag bunt for a hit: Mickey Mantle on bunting.
   98. McCoy Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:54 PM (#4755504)
That's not exactly the dark ages of MLB.

It was still the dark ages of record keeping. Didn't Project Scoresheet start in 1987? There is a huge bias going on in the data before 1987. I wouldn't be shocked that record keepers were taking note of successful bunt attempts prior to 1987 while not really tracking failed attempts all that reliably.

There is no way the league as a whole had a 70% success rate on bunt attempts with the bases empty. It simply didn't happen.
   99. McCoy Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:56 PM (#4755506)
So outside of Lombardi who else was slow in the 50's or in the 60's and 70's?
   100. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:59 PM (#4755508)
There is no way the league as a whole had a 70% success rate on bunt attempts with the bases empty. It simply didn't happen.

Perhaps there's a different definition of "bunt attempt". Maybe pre-1987, they're only tracking hit or out, where afterwards, they include fouls?
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