PDA

View Full Version : Bunting with two strikes


ArkanSox
07-08-2008, 12:24 PM
In another thread, ondafarm asked if I thought bunting with two strikes is a good idea, and I thought it was a pretty good question.

Last night, in a scoreless game, I watched the Twin's Alexi Casillo lay one down for an easy hit. The Red Sox infielders had backed up five steps after he had two strikes on him. How cool, I thought. It was unexpected, exciting, and aggressive baseball. He eventually reached third, and the Twins loaded the bases that inning, but fortunately for us, didn't score.

All year long their leadoff man, Gomez, has had opposing pitchers (ex.--Lee, Verlander) talking to themselves and also lipping off to him about his bunting antics. Gardenhire earlier called Go Go one of his "loose cannons" in his frustration over FOUL 2-strike bunts, but he obviously hasn't collared his players over it. Actually, he's encouraged their hard play and enthusiasm.

Personally, if the defense retreats and gives it to you, I like your chances with the 2-strike bunt. I really don't think Ozzie would mind if players like Alexei or Pablo tried it.

It's not illegal, but many pitchers seem to hate it. Is there some kind of unwritten law not too? Improper etiquette?

Is it just plain stupid? Too risky? What do you think?

I'm heading to work, so have a great day!

ArkanSox

Over By There
07-08-2008, 12:36 PM
I was watching that game last night, and I thought to myself, "I bet Matsuzaka would love to go slap Casilla in the face." I'll be curious to see what some of WSI's baseball purists have to say about this issue... I have a feeling there are some of the famous "unwritten rules" that might apply?

ondafarm
07-08-2008, 12:48 PM
If there is an unwritten rule then I violated it myself a bunch of times.

You have to be pretty confident you can keep it fair though.

Keep in mind, unlike a lot of major leaguers, I actually used to take a couple of turns (at least one a day) of my BP time practicing bunting. I think the Twins do it as well.

FielderJones
07-08-2008, 12:48 PM
If a player is known for bunting on strike 2 and the pitcher doesn't throw something high in the strike zone, shame on him. Unwritten rules my ass.

daveeym
07-08-2008, 12:51 PM
I was watching that game last night, and I thought to myself, "I bet Matsuzaka would love to go slap Casilla in the face." I'll be curious to see what some of WSI's baseball purists have to say about this issue... I have a feeling there are some of the famous "unwritten rules" that might apply?The only unwritten rule on bunting that I've ever heard of is bunting to break up a no-no. As far as the op's question I'd say if you're a good bunter have at it. The odds of getting a bunt hit with two strikes are probably not all that different from getting a hit with two strikes. I think it's just more of natural instinct to feel like you're giving them an easier out trying to bunt at that stage than a reality. Sure if he's swinging he might foul a few off and get a better pitch and a hit, but just as many strike out or fly out on that next pitch anyway. Play to your strengths.

SOXPHILE
07-08-2008, 12:54 PM
You will have to check to see if there is a chapter on this in The Book of Unwritten Rules of Baseball. You can ask either Tony LaRussa or Bob Brenly to show you, as they are the keepers.

PatK
07-08-2008, 12:58 PM
The way the Sox bunt, I'm glad it isn't tried too much.

Bucky F. Dent
07-08-2008, 02:08 PM
Saw the game as well. Matsuzaka choked on that one. The bunt was laid close enough to the mound if he had made a play on it, he would have had a reasonable chance of getting Casillo out - although he is fast.

assrevolution
07-08-2008, 02:30 PM
Can't say there's an unwritten rule here. NL pitchers do it all the time with 2 strikes. It's the risk you take as a hitter. Just getting it in play doesn't guarantee you'll get a hit. It's still something that needs to be well executed.

the gooch
07-08-2008, 02:42 PM
I had a check swing/bunt foul with two strikes for an out yesterday while playing RBI baseball. If video games from the '80s allow it, I see no problem.
In all seriousness, have at it. You have to be good at it for the risk/reward to pay off.

Eddo144
07-08-2008, 02:47 PM
I don't think there are any "unwritten rules" regarding two strike bunts. I would only advocated it, however, if the hitter was so terrible that bunting was his only legitimate way to get on base.

Let's call O the batters expected chance of being out.

Figure it this way: let's say there's an F chance the bunt stays fair. That means that 1-F of the time, he's out immediately. O is now 1-F.

Of those F percentage fair bunts, let's say that S percent of them are placed well enough to get the batter on base. The out percentage here is (1-S). To add to the total O, we multiply this part by F (the percentage of times he actually gets the bunt down). So, total O for a two-strike bunt is (1-F)+(1-S)*F.

So, now let's apply some reasonable values to this equation. Let's say 2/3 of all bunts are fair, so F=.667. Roughly 1/3 of all bunts will actually result in a hit, so S=.333. Therefore, O=(1-.667)+(1-.333)*.667=.778, which means that bunting with two strikes (under those assumptions) will result in an out 77.8% of the time.

If we bump F up to .750 and S up to .400 (which I feel is really generous), the out percentage moves to .700.

So under conservative assumptions, you should only bunt with two strikes if your hitter is likely to get on base less than 22.2% (1.000-.778) of the time, which means he's a terrible hitter. Under more risky assumptions (giving more credit to his bunting ability), he should only bunt if his OBP is under .300, which means he's only a bad hitter.

---

Now, this doesn't account for extreme scenarios, where a bunt might also have some value as a sacrifice or if the infield is playing super far back, but those are not common situations. My analysis looked solely at bunting for a hit.

UofCSoxFan
07-08-2008, 02:50 PM
Why would there be an unwritten rule on this (and believe me I'm the king of unwritten rules)?

People don't do it because there is no margin for error. Usually when you bunt for a hit you try to flirt with the foul line so it's either foul or the 3B has to stick it in his pocket for a hit.

With two strikes you have to make sure you get a lot of the field, as was the case in the game last night. The fact that the hitter is extremely fast meant he just had to get it by the pitcher and not worry about the line with the 3B back.

Blame the 3B for not playing up...the ESPN announcers commenting earlier in the game how Gomez and Casilla will bunt with two strikes.

Casilla probably thought, hey my odds of getting a hit with two strikes against this guy are probably a lot lower than me getting a bunt down...I'll go for the bunt...it worked out.

As a side note, did anyone see how a Braves player tried to lay down a bunt for a hit down 3 in the 7th when the Dodgers pitcher was throwing a PERFECT GAME? Thing is I don't have a problem with this either (if the game is 10-0 its a different story). It was part of the players everday game and the 3B for the Dodgers was smartly playing up and made the play...again showing how obnoxious Bob Brenley's reaction was to Schilling's no hitter.

I want Mags back
07-08-2008, 03:22 PM
We're Talkin Baseball...

btrain929
07-08-2008, 03:25 PM
I'd rather see a bunt with 2 strikes then someone try to bunt while a no-hitter is in progress....

TDog
07-08-2008, 03:38 PM
Of course, Aaron Rowand's last at bat with the White Sox was a foul bunt with two strikes, ending his career with a whimper that would be forgotten as his legend grew with the disappointment that became Brian Anderson's first full season with the Sox. In that case, Rowand was sacrificing, but I thought it was a stupid move to begin with. He was trying to move a runner to third and shouldn't have been bunting in the first place. A ground ball to the right side would have sufficed.

If you know you can keep the ball fair, two strikes is a great time to bunt for a hit. You have to bunt it out too far for the catcher to field it and not far enough for the pitcher to have an easy play. Infielders are playing deep. It isn't showing them up by bunting with two strikes. They are playing deep because a foul bunt risks an out. In effect, they are challenging a good bunter to bunt. If a pitcher throws a pitch too close to take that is difficult to keep fair, the hitter is assured a strikeout.

I don't know of any etiquette that labels bunting with two strikes as bad form by the defense.

asindc
07-08-2008, 03:42 PM
If a player is known for bunting on strike 2 and the pitcher doesn't throw something high in the strike zone, shame on him. Unwritten rules my ass.

Exactly. If you don't want a batter doing that to you, get him out everytime he does it. Plain and simple. If that is an unwritten rule, it is one of the worst in all of sports. It is not the batter's job to make it easy for you to get him out. If you give him an easy bunt single and he is a good bunter, he should take it. I refer everyone to Coach Herm Edwards: "Hello! You try to win the game!"

ArkanSox
07-08-2008, 04:03 PM
Very cool, ondafarm. You obviously prepared well and had the wheels for it.

It looks like most of us agree that when it works, it's a great play.

I do remember reading that there's all ready been four or five pitchers this year who have taken exception with Gomez for doing it though.

It sure sounds awfully whiny on their part to me.

asindc
07-08-2008, 04:10 PM
Very cool, ondafarm. You obviously prepared well and had the wheels for it.

It looks like most of us agree that when it works, it's a great play.

I do remember reading that there's all ready been four or five pitchers this year who have taken exception with Gomez for doing it though.

It sure sounds awfully whiny on their part to me.

It is whiny on their part.

downstairs
07-08-2008, 06:17 PM
The way I see it is you always have to mix it up, and break the unwritten rules every now and then. If you're predictable it gives the other team an advantage- even if you're predictable to follow well-documented "rules".

That's my one knock against the Moneyball way of playing. Everyone has the same stats. If you're bound not to ever bunt in a situation... when that comes up, no one will waste their time preparing for a possible bunt.

FedEx227
07-08-2008, 06:33 PM
I'd rather see a bunt with 2 strikes then someone try to bunt while a no-hitter is in progress....

See I think that rule is stupid as well.

When does a no-hitter in progress count?

After 5 innings you're not allowed to bunt?

After 6?

7?

8?

I saw the Dodgers game yesterday and someone on Atlanta laid down a bunt and you could see the stares from the players. It was the 7th inning!? Who cares. Someone made a great play and saved it.

Stupid, stupid unwritten rule in my mind. 9th inning, maybe... but it seems if you bunt anytime after the 5th inning of a no-hitter you're "bush league"... I think that's a load of crap.

ondafarm
07-08-2008, 10:12 PM
Obviously, in the NL with the pitcher batting you'd rather take the K than the GIDP.

Apart from that (as in, in the AL) I'd only bunt with two strikes if the hitter is a decent bunter. Bunting is one kind of hitting. It takes skill, practice and nerve. Bunting for a hit is tougher than bunting for a sac. You typically need to buy a little time before squaring and you have to position the ball better.

I don't consider bunting a negative, I consider it a positive way to get on base.

ondafarm
07-08-2008, 10:17 PM
No hitter in progress?

I recall bunting once in my second time up to start the sixth ( I batted seventh) so that must have been a no-no. I recall getting grief because I almost never led off an inning and I was terrible (a relative term for a career .242 hitter) at getting on like that. I recall stealing 2nd so I really must have been cursed by the other side.

Then again, I remember in the seventh we scored a few runs and won the game.

btrain929
07-08-2008, 11:22 PM
See I think that rule is stupid as well.

When does a no-hitter in progress count?

After 5 innings you're not allowed to bunt?

After 6?

7?

8?

I saw the Dodgers game yesterday and someone on Atlanta laid down a bunt and you could see the stares from the players. It was the 7th inning!? Who cares. Someone made a great play and saved it.

Stupid, stupid unwritten rule in my mind. 9th inning, maybe... but it seems if you bunt anytime after the 5th inning of a no-hitter you're "bush league"... I think that's a load of crap.

I saw that too. If DeWitt didn't make an outstanding play, he would have broken up the no-no (actually a perfect game in this particular situation) with that cheap ****. I say after the 5th inning, if a no-no is going on, grow a pair and get a hit. This isn't the WMLB. How could you be happy/proud of yourself if you're "that guy" who feels you're not good enough to get a hit off the guy, that you have to lay down a bunt. If I was a coach and the other team broke up my team's no-no with a bunt hit, the next game that batter or one of their best hitters is getting a fastball at their head. Not their ribs, their head.

But, then again, that may play a slight role as to why I'm not a baseball coach anywhere currently :D:

FedEx227
07-10-2008, 01:21 AM
I saw that too. If DeWitt didn't make an outstanding play, he would have broken up the no-no (actually a perfect game in this particular situation) with that cheap ****. I say after the 5th inning, if a no-no is going on, grow a pair and get a hit. This isn't the WMLB. How could you be happy/proud of yourself if you're "that guy" who feels you're not good enough to get a hit off the guy, that you have to lay down a bunt.

Um, I'm pretty sure a bunt is still ruled a hit. If you have the speed to pull it off, why the hell not? There's a lot that has to go right for the batter to be able to get a bunt hit. I say knock yourself out. It's not like pitchers have to throw you an underhand toss if you're about to break a home-run record, or you're going for 3-4 home runs in a game.

And please do throw at my head, I'll be on base again.