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View Full Version : Bunting won't add significant points to Owen's Average


Lillian
03-12-2008, 08:15 AM
We've all heard Hawk assert how bunting for base hits could boost a player's average significantly. His 'logic' goes something like this: "If you can just pick up one bunt hit a week, that's 24 extra hits over a six month season, and ""dag'umit"", that's 25 extra hits a year, or about 50 points on your average."

We've heard this dubious logic directed at one player or another over the years. Mike Caruso, Pods, and now Jerry Owens. Well, Hawk's latest subject for this "theory" of how to turn a slap hitter into a Hall of Famer, has taken his advise to heart. Owens has been echoing Hawk's advice, and was heard in an interview on the Score, talking about how he has really been focusing on bunting, and plans to attempt to get at least one base hit every game.

I'm sorry to have to disappoint Jerry, Hawk, and anyone else who subscribes to this nonsense, but it doesn't work. Don't believe me? Do the math!
If you are a .250 hitter who never attempts to bunt for a hit, and you are convinced that you can raise your average significantly by including this seemingly potent weapon into your offensive arsenal, you'd better think again. Unless you can bunt at a rate of success better than one hit out of every four attempts, your average won't improve a single percentage point.
The fallacy of the logic of Hawk, and his disciples is quite simple. You can't just add the extra hits produced by bunts, but rather you need to calculate the number of hits per attempt. If a batter would otherwise get 500 at bats in a season, and hit at a rate of .250. By attempting to get one base hit per game, the batter would be using more than 100 at bats. However, even if he were to use only 100 of those at bats in order to attempt to get a hit by bunting, he would need to be successful at least 25 times out of the 100, just to maintain his .250 average.
If he could get 30 base hits out of the 100 attempts he would be bunting at a .300 average. Hitting .300 over those 100 at bats would raise his season's average by 10 points, to .260. But bunting once a game could result in as many as 150 attempts, and being successful even 40 times, which is unheard of, would not help even as much as the 30 out of 100 successful attempts.

The question is how often can the hitter be successful with his bunt attempts. Perhaps the biggest value of adopting this strategy is the effect that it has on the defense. If the 3RD Baseman plays in on the grass, in an attempt to thwart the bunt, then that raises the hitter's odds of sneaking the ball by him, for a hit.

I don't know what a reasonable rate of success would be for attempting to reach First by bunting, but I would be surprised if anyone could do it often enough to significantly improve their average.

Viva Medias B's
03-12-2008, 08:25 AM
WSI Spell Check: Owens.

cws05champ
03-12-2008, 08:27 AM
I was told there would be no math, in this debate. :wink:

jabrch
03-12-2008, 08:48 AM
If you don't think that adding one extra bunt hit per week (and keeping all else constant) would raise a hitters batting average, than you are beyond help.

Lillian
03-12-2008, 08:57 AM
If you don't think that adding one extra bunt hit per week (and keeping all else constant) would raise a hitters batting average, than you are beyond help.

Did you read what I wrote? If there is something incorrect in my logic, or math, please enlighten me. If not, please don't insult me!

jabrch
03-12-2008, 09:13 AM
Did you read what I wrote? If there is something incorrect in my logic, or math, please enlighten me. If not, please don't insult me!

You are adding in a bunch of things that are not part of the assumption made in the statement that "adding a hit a week..." It is not adding a hit a week and taking away....

Manipulate numbers all you want to prove a point - but if you add one hit a week, you will have a higher batting average. This is simple math that doesn't need to be pencil ****ed to death.

Lillian
03-12-2008, 09:18 AM
You are adding in a bunch of things that are not part of the assumption made in the statement that "adding a hit a week..." It is not adding a hit a week and taking away....

Manipulate numbers all you want to prove a point - but if you add one hit a week, you will have a higher batting average. This is simple math that doesn't need to be pencil ****ed to death.

Your error is in the assumption that you will be able to add one hit per week without any failed attempts. It is so obvious that you still have to succeed at a rate of something better than one in four attempts, in order to raise a .250 average. One for four, is still .250!!!!!

Zisk77
03-12-2008, 09:25 AM
We've all heard Hawk assert how bunting for base hits could boost a player's average significantly. His 'logic' goes something like this: "If you can just pick up one bunt hit a week, that's 24 extra hits over a six month season, and ""dag'umit"", that's 25 extra hits a year, or about 50 points on your average."

We've heard this dubious logic directed at one player or another over the years. Mike Caruso, Pods, and now Jerry Owens. Well, Hawk's latest subject for this "theory" of how to turn a slap hitter into a Hall of Famer, has taken his advise to heart. Owens has been echoing Hawk's advice, and was heard in an interview on the Score, talking about how he has really been focusing on bunting, and plans to attempt to get at least one base hit every game.

I'm sorry to have to disappoint Jerry, Hawk, and anyone else who subscribes to this nonsense, but it doesn't work. Don't believe me? Do the math!
If you are a .250 hitter who never attempts to bunt for a hit, and you are convinced that you can raise your average significantly by including this seemingly potent weapon into your offensive arsenal, you'd better think again. Unless you can bunt at a rate of success better than one hit out of every four attempts, your average won't improve a single percentage point.
The fallacy of the logic of Hawk, and his disciples is quite simple. You can't just add the extra hits produced by bunts, but rather you need to calculate the number of hits per attempt. If a batter would otherwise get 500 at bats in a season, and hit at a rate of .250. By attempting to get one base hit per game, the batter would be using more than 100 at bats. However, even if he were to use only 100 of those at bats in order to attempt to get a hit by bunting, he would need to be successful at least 25 times out of the 100, just to maintain his .250 average.
If he could get 30 base hits out of the 100 attempts he would be bunting at a .300 average. Hitting .300 over those 100 at bats would raise his season's average by 10 points, to .260. But bunting once a game could result in as many as 150 attempts, and being successful even 40 times, which is unheard of, would not help even as much as the 30 out of 100 successful attempts.

The question is how often can the hitter be successful with his bunt attempts. Perhaps the biggest value of adopting this strategy is the effect that it has on the defense. If the 3RD Baseman plays in on the grass, in an attempt to thwart the bunt, then that raises the hitter's odds of sneaking the ball by him, for a hit.

I don't know what a reasonable rate of success would be for attempting to reach First by bunting, but I would be surprised if anyone could do it often enough to significantly improve their average.


neither of those guys were particularly good bunters, but Brett Butler says hello.

spiffie
03-12-2008, 09:26 AM
You are adding in a bunch of things that are not part of the assumption made in the statement that "adding a hit a week..." It is not adding a hit a week and taking away....

Manipulate numbers all you want to prove a point - but if you add one hit a week, you will have a higher batting average. This is simple math that doesn't need to be pencil ****ed to death.
Is it really adding one hit a week though? For it to truly be one extra hit, just from bunting, don't you have to assume he would make outs every time up if he didn't attempt to bunt there?

I agree it would probably help his average. But think about this logically. If a guy is a .250 hitter without bunting, he's getting a hit one out of four times. Every time he tries for a bunt hit, he's not swinging away, the way he does when he gets his one out of four shot at getting a hit.

The way you, and Hawk, are setting this up is cherry picking any out that the hitter makes and replacing it with a bunt hit. But that is just absolutely unproveable and nonsensical. Yes, its good if Owens can bunt his way onto base more. It brings in the infield (good when you need a lot of balls to get through gaps like Owens does) and adds another weapon to the arsenal. But this notion that it would somehow magically add one hit a week seems unlikely to me unless he becomes so good at it that it is something like a 50/50 chance every time he attempts a bunt hit.

GAsoxfan
03-12-2008, 09:31 AM
If you don't think that adding one extra bunt hit per week (and keeping all else constant) would raise a hitters batting average, than you are beyond help.

The problem is you can't keep all else constant. Owens has a set number of AB. Every time he bunts, it takes away a time he could “swing away”. The math is pretty simple. If you have a higher average when you bunt as compared to when you don’t bunt, your average is going to go up the more you bunt, and vice-versa.

Optipessimism
03-12-2008, 09:36 AM
I like your post Lillian.

Hawk does seem to discuss bunting as if it is something that just anyone with great speed and enough practice can do effectively more often than not, especially a left-handed hitter capable of getting out of the box quicker. I disagree with that and I disagree with the idea of trying for one bunt hit per week or four bunt hits per month as general rules.

Owens needs to implement bunting into his game to take advantage of incredibly slow or poor fielding pitchers and poor fielding or poorly placed third basemen. He needs to know when he is going to have a better shot at laying one down versus swinging and stick to it. But at the same time, he has to hit the damn ball out of the infield or else no one is going to respect him enough to give him the opportunity to bunt.

rdwj
03-12-2008, 09:39 AM
It all comes down to this - if he can bunt more successfully than he can swing, he's going to raise his average. With his speed, I think there is a pretty good chance that he can be more successful. Additionally, defenses are going to have to defend against the bunt if he's getting them down consistently. That may help raise his average via slap hitting too.

Raising his average 50 points with the bunt is probably a bit of a stretch, but I understand what Hawk is trying to say.

jabrch
03-12-2008, 09:42 AM
Your error is in the assumption that you will be able to add one hit per week without any failed attempts. It is so obvious that you still have to succeed at a rate of something better than one in four attempts, in order to raise a .250 average. One for four, is still .250!!!!!

And Hawk never says, "add one hit a week but make an extra 3 outs per week". That's not the logic being used. They are talking about net converting one out to one hit...

jabrch
03-12-2008, 09:43 AM
Is it really adding one hit a week though? For it to truly be one extra hit, just from bunting, don't you have to assume he would make outs every time up if he didn't attempt to bunt there?

No - you are assuming that he gets one more hit than he did without it. Not that he converts one out to a hit, but 3 hits to an out. Of course that would make it different. But that's not the arguement that anyone supporting "one bunt a week" is making.

Carolina Kenny
03-12-2008, 09:43 AM
If anybody knows Bill James, this would be a great question to ask him.

jabrch
03-12-2008, 09:46 AM
The problem is you can't keep all else constant. Owens has a set number of AB. Every time he bunts, it takes away a time he could “swing away”. The math is pretty simple. If you have a higher average when you bunt as compared to when you don’t bunt, your average is going to go up the more you bunt, and vice-versa.

Again...you absolutely can in a world where you are pencil ****ing baseball to be an excercise in mathematics. If the arguement is that you get one more hit a week, why can't you say that hit is in lieu of an out and that you aren't converting any hits to outs at the same time. It is net adding one hit...that's the simple premise that this arguement is based on. If that premise isn't acceptable, that's fine. But part of this entire activity of using math to evaluate baseball requires, by nature, that you look at things in net terms and that you don't assume degradation in one area for another.

doublem23
03-12-2008, 09:49 AM
:o:

When do the god damn games start?

spawn
03-12-2008, 09:50 AM
:o:

When do the god damn games start?
Not soon enough...

Heffalump
03-12-2008, 09:54 AM
We've all heard Hawk assert how bunting for base hits could boost a player's average significantly. His 'logic' goes something like this: "If you can just pick up one bunt hit a week, that's 24 extra hits over a six month season, and ""dag'umit"", that's 25 extra hits a year, or about 50 points on your average."

We've heard this dubious logic directed at one player or another over the years. Mike Caruso, Pods, and now Jerry Owens. Well, Hawk's latest subject for this "theory" of how to turn a slap hitter into a Hall of Famer, has taken his advise to heart. Owens has been echoing Hawk's advice, and was heard in an interview on the Score, talking about how he has really been focusing on bunting, and plans to attempt to get at least one base hit every game.

I'm sorry to have to disappoint Jerry, Hawk, and anyone else who subscribes to this nonsense, but it doesn't work. Don't believe me? Do the math!
If you are a .250 hitter who never attempts to bunt for a hit, and you are convinced that you can raise your average significantly by including this seemingly potent weapon into your offensive arsenal, you'd better think again. Unless you can bunt at a rate of success better than one hit out of every four attempts, your average won't improve a single percentage point.
The fallacy of the logic of Hawk, and his disciples is quite simple. You can't just add the extra hits produced by bunts, but rather you need to calculate the number of hits per attempt. If a batter would otherwise get 500 at bats in a season, and hit at a rate of .250. By attempting to get one base hit per game, the batter would be using more than 100 at bats. However, even if he were to use only 100 of those at bats in order to attempt to get a hit by bunting, he would need to be successful at least 25 times out of the 100, just to maintain his .250 average.
If he could get 30 base hits out of the 100 attempts he would be bunting at a .300 average. Hitting .300 over those 100 at bats would raise his season's average by 10 points, to .260. But bunting once a game could result in as many as 150 attempts, and being successful even 40 times, which is unheard of, would not help even as much as the 30 out of 100 successful attempts.

The question is how often can the hitter be successful with his bunt attempts. Perhaps the biggest value of adopting this strategy is the effect that it has on the defense. If the 3RD Baseman plays in on the grass, in an attempt to thwart the bunt, then that raises the hitter's odds of sneaking the ball by him, for a hit.

I don't know what a reasonable rate of success would be for attempting to reach First by bunting, but I would be surprised if anyone could do it often enough to significantly improve their average.

Wow, somebody has a lot of time on their hands.

All I have to say is "PLEASE, PLEASE let the season start!"

spiffie
03-12-2008, 10:18 AM
Again...you absolutely can in a world where you are pencil ****ing baseball to be an excercise in mathematics. If the arguement is that you get one more hit a week, why can't you say that hit is in lieu of an out and that you aren't converting any hits to outs at the same time. It is net adding one hit...that's the simple premise that this arguement is based on. If that premise isn't acceptable, that's fine. But part of this entire activity of using math to evaluate baseball requires, by nature, that you look at things in net terms and that you don't assume degradation in one area for another.
Then why not say he gets 2 bunt hits a week in lieu of 2 outs? Or 5 of them? Hell, we can make Jerry a .400 hitter if we just assume that every time he bunts he would have made an out if he had swung away, but that his bunts will be hits.

It would certainly solve that whole problem of who the hell to hit leadoff. Get Ozzie on the phone now!

Flight #24
03-12-2008, 10:23 AM
Why is this so controversial? If he gets on base at a higher rate by bunting, then he'll have a higher average. I think what the original poster was saying was that in order for it to be significantly higher, he'd have to get on base by bunting at a significantly higher rate than he would otherwise. That's all. He wasn't saying "bunting is bad or useless", just that "bunting is only significantly useful itf you do it significantly better than your general hitting".

It's not that getting 25 bunt hits would improve his average, it's that getting 25 MORE bunt hits than he would by swinging away will do it. Doesn't seem that complicated or controversial to me, and doing the underlying math doesn't either, not sure what adding that to the opinion should piss anyone off.

jabrch
03-12-2008, 10:25 AM
Then why not say he gets 2 bunt hits a week in lieu of 2 outs? Or 5 of them? Hell, we can make Jerry a .400 hitter if we just assume that every time he bunts he would have made an out if he had swung away, but that his bunts will be hits.

It would certainly solve that whole problem of who the hell to hit leadoff. Get Ozzie on the phone now!


Why not 100 then?


But net adding one hit by being a skilled bunter with Owens' legs is a stretch - but attainable goal for a guy who is entering his first full season in the majors. You can drive a bull**** hypothesis past any logical extreme to make it sound silly if you want. I'd rather live in the world of possibility. Feel free to join me if you'd like.

soxfan13
03-12-2008, 10:29 AM
I soooooo love bundts!!!!!!

http://www.goodnuke.com/recipes/images/bundt%20cake.jpg

kjhanson
03-12-2008, 10:30 AM
Let's take a look at this in a more realistic viewpoint, shall we?

Assumptions:
24 at-bats/week
4 bunt attempts/week -- conservative given this year's "goal"
.250 average "swinging away"
.350 average "bunting" -- I actually think this number is higher, but I'll be conservative initially to please the doubters.

Results:
20 at-bats "swinging away": 5.00 hits/week
4 at-bats "bunting": 1.40 hits/week
6.4 hits per 24 ABs = .267 hitter (Raise your hand if you know Jerry's average last year - that's right, it was .267)

If he bunts 6 times/week (or 25% of at-bats) @ .400 clip:
He becomes a .288 hitter with an OBP somwhere in the .350 range.

I've put everything at a per/week basis because that's how this discussion began, but it's applicable at a per/AB level, so please with-hold the "you can't get 6.4 hits in a week comments"

spiffie
03-12-2008, 10:35 AM
Why not 100 then?


But net adding one hit by being a skilled bunter with Owens' legs is a stretch - but attainable goal for a guy who is entering his first full season in the majors. You can drive a bull**** hypothesis past any logical extreme to make it sound silly if you want. I'd rather live in the world of possibility. Feel free to join me if you'd like.
Sure, it is possible. To do it he would have to become the second best bunt hitter in the major leagues. To get one hit a week for the appx. 25 weeks of the season would make him by a good margin the second biggest bunt hitter in the majors. Last year Willy Taveras had an AWESOME year with 38 bunt hits. He succeeded to get on base at a 64.4% clip when he bunted.

Problem is for most other guys it wasn't that good. Juan Pierre was second last year with 19 bunt hits. He got on at a 28.8% clip. Most other guys in the top 10 (which saw 9 bunt hits at 10th, and 3 guys tie for 7th with 10) had %'s in the mid 30's to low 40's. So unless Jerry can somehow become one of the two best bunters in the game this spring training, he would probably have to take about 65-70 shots at bunt hitting to get his 25 bunts. That also means every time up he's not getting a chance at a double, a triple, a HR, a hit that might move a man from first to third.

Last year he had 9 bunt hits and a success rate of 36%. To make any significant impact in his batting average he would need to not only try a LOT more attempts, but significantly increase his success rate. Is it possible? Sure. But I really hope the plan for the year doesn't include Jerry Owens trying to bunt 75-80 times.

Flight #24
03-12-2008, 10:36 AM
24 at-bats/week
4 bunt attempts/week -- conservative given this year's "goal"
.250 average "swinging away"
.350 average "bunting" -- I actually think this number is higher, but I'll be conservative initially to please the doubters.

This is the key assumption. If you bunt at a .100 higher rate than you usually hit, sure - it's not that hard to significantly increase your overall average by bunting. I have no idea whether or not that's the case.

But in general, whatever way you get on base at the highest rate is what you should do. If that's bunting, great. If that's not bunting, fine.

LITTLE NELL
03-12-2008, 10:42 AM
There really is no way to figure this out based on the fact that we do not know what he would have done by swinging away. When he does swing away does he make an out or does he get a hit, there is no way of knowing what the result of an at bat will be. Its a given that because of his speed Owens will have more infield and bunt hit than anyone else on the club, how many is impossible to know. One thing for sure is; he has to win the CF job first and BA right now in my opinion is ahead right now.

Thigpen "57"
03-12-2008, 11:01 AM
There really is no way to figure this out based on the fact that we do not know what he would have done by swinging away. When he does swing away does he make an out or does he get a hit, there is no way of knowing what the result of an at bat will be. Its a given that because of his speed Owens will have more infield and bunt hit than anyone else on the club, how many is impossible to know. One thing for sure is; he has to win the CF job first and BA right now in my opinion is ahead right now.

Out of this whole thread, this post has made the most sense to me on both points. We will not know what Owens would do if he did not bunt, but with his speed it makes sense for him to have good bunting skills to increase his opportunity to reach base.

I have never been in the infamous BA love crowd, but he has my vote so far over Owens. BA's defense being the main reason, and he has better potential/talent with the stick. Owens is a great athlete as well to have switched "late" in his career from football to baseball, and his speed is an assett. But I have to go with defense on this one.

Let Owens bunt away if he gets on base doing it. As far as Hawk goes, well... Hawk is Hawk, and he often does not make sense because his arrogance/ego often overshadows what he is saying.

RowanDye
03-12-2008, 11:41 AM
This is the key assumption. If you bunt at a .100 higher rate than you usually hit, sure - it's not that hard to significantly increase your overall average by bunting. I have no idea whether or not that's the case.

But in general, whatever way you get on base at the highest rate is what you should do. If that's bunting, great. If that's not bunting, fine.

Obviously a key assumption is that Owens would have a higher average when bunting then hitting.

But I think the MOST important factor to the success of this strategy is that Owens picks his spots very well.

Each game, Owens will have specific INFORMATION (i.e. pitcher, field, and game time conditions) that will increase the power he has to predict his success at either swinging or bunting.

Over the course of the season, if Owens can successfully bunt when he otherwise would have had a LOWER than average chance of getting a hit then it will further enhance the effect of bunting on his stats.

This is an example of "LUCK" that simple, probabilistic models cannot account for.

ElevenUp
03-12-2008, 12:08 PM
Someone with speed who has shown he can bunt for a hit will often times draw in the infield. Wouldn't this increase the probability of getting a hit on any ground ball? I think part of Hawk's statement is that bunting will get Owens on base if he is good at bunting, but also make it easier to get hits when he is swinging.

ImaGrinder
03-12-2008, 02:57 PM
Someone with speed who has shown he can bunt for a hit will often times draw in the infield. Wouldn't this increase the probability of getting a hit on any ground ball? I think part of Hawk's statement is that bunting will get Owens on base if he is good at bunting, but also make it easier to get hits when he is swinging.

Since Owens is probably never going to SLG a respectable amount and he is willing to change his plate approach (by bunting more) he's probably much better served to focus on being a lot more patient at the plate and taking more walks.

As overrated as stolen bases are in the grand scheme of things, they are one of the few things that gives him value offensively...but he certainly needs to get on base more for any of that to really matter.

jabrch
03-12-2008, 03:15 PM
Since Owen's is

Who?

ImaGrinder
03-12-2008, 03:43 PM
Who?

I'm sorry, that typo definitley made the post illegible and impossible to understand correctly. Thanks for pointing it though man, I don't wanna look an idiot it my first post!

A. Cavatica
03-12-2008, 08:12 PM
definitley

Amen.

(kidding.)

oeo
03-12-2008, 08:20 PM
Perhaps the biggest value of adopting this strategy is the effect that it has on the defense. If the 3RD Baseman plays in on the grass, in an attempt to thwart the bunt, then that raises the hitter's odds of sneaking the ball by him, for a hit.

Bingo.

I'm not a big fan of Hawk's constant blabbing about the bunt (or anything else he consistently brings up...the new one this year seems to be, 'the biggest change in baseball is the bullpen...'), but he does bring this up. The ability to bunt would definitely help the weak-hitting Owens' batting average. If he draws the infielders in, all he has to do is beat one into the ground and he's got himself a base hit.

Rounding_Third
03-13-2008, 05:52 PM
Your error is in the assumption that you will be able to add one hit per week without any failed attempts. It is so obvious that you still have to succeed at a rate of something better than one in four attempts, in order to raise a .250 average. One for four, is still .250!!!!!


I think the assumption is that a successful bunter (for hits) will succeed over the course of a season at better than a 1 for 4 clip. How about every 3 out of 10? With his speed, he doesn't have to lay them down perfectly every time, either. I think another factor is when the defense is looking for the bunt, a normal swing might get you an extra cheap hit from time to time while the defense is out of position.

Boondock Saint
03-13-2008, 06:12 PM
So I really don't want to add any more to this pointless pissing contest, but seriously, all that's going on here is a huge argument over what ifs.

"What if that bunt replaces a hit?"
"But what if it replaces an out?"
"What if it replaces a 3 run HR?"

Who knows? Who cares? What if Owens doesn't make the team? If not, how will we ever know what might happen if Owens decides to bunt once every four at bats?

fquaye149
03-13-2008, 06:34 PM
Again...you absolutely can in a world where you are pencil ****ing baseball to be an excercise in mathematics. If the arguement is that you get one more hit a week, why can't you say that hit is in lieu of an out and that you aren't converting any hits to outs at the same time. It is net adding one hit...that's the simple premise that this arguement is based on. If that premise isn't acceptable, that's fine. But part of this entire activity of using math to evaluate baseball requires, by nature, that you look at things in net terms and that you don't assume degradation in one area for another.


I love how you assume that just because he's going to try to get "one extra bunt hit" that he will.

It's not a choice between a bunt hit and and out. It's the choice between a 1-in-whatever chance to bunt for a hit and a 1-in-whatever chance to reach base swinging away.

Since very few players in this day and age can bunt for a hit successfully, and since Owens isn't any faster than the average elite-speed ballplayer, all bunting for a hit really does is give Owens better looks when he DOES choose to swing away as fielders will have to account for the possibility fo a bunt-for-a-hit

BadBobbyJenks
03-13-2008, 08:24 PM
I was a darn good bunter when I lead off in little league.