Driving to Boston from Providence and back at lunchtime today, I heard possibly the finest stretch of sports radio I have encountered in a long time. On WHDH-Boston, Bob Neumeier and Dale Arnold (the hosts) had two consecutive guests of little fame on the show – Tim Reason from CFO Magazine, and James Click of Baseball Prospectus. Both spoke eloquently and smartly about a couple of wide-ranging topics, the economy of baseball and the sacrifice bunt.

Reason is the author of this article, which takes two pages to really get going. It’s long, but bear with it. Read on to the part about the debt limit of Major League teams starting on page 2.

Click was on to speak about the fallacy of the usefulness of the sacrifice bunt (subscription required), something I have always yelled for instinctively. Those nasty little things called statistics and science seem to prove me mad, at least according to Click, as it seems that statistically there are almost no circumstances under which the bunt is a valuable tool. Whether you agree or disagree, it’s good stuff.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Does an intentional walk also have no value since that is essentially another sacrifical strategy?

    JCL (YF) May 13, 2004, 3:51 pm
  • Does an intentional walk also have no value since that is essentially another sacrificial strategy?

    JCL (YF) May 13, 2004, 3:51 pm
  • Doug Pappas (there is no praise too high for his business of baseball weblog) covered the CFO article several weeks ago. Look there for some interesting commentary.
    As for the bunt, I will review this piece, but reflexively eliminating it on statistical grounds seems foolish, as such statistics take data from all situations and then level the numerical field–that’s the way they work. So while the science is pretty conclusive that the sac bunt is generally a bad strategy, that does not necessarily mean that is is a bad tactic in ALL situations.
    As for the intentional walk, clearly there are times when this is a reasonable move (especially in the NL, where pitchers hit, or at least try to). A more interesting question, and a topic of great discussion among sabermetricians before his recent “slump,” is whether or not Barry Bonds should be intentionally walked AT ALL TIMES. The consensus: pitch to Barry. Carefully.

    YF May 13, 2004, 4:12 pm
  • I have to run through all his pieces on the sac bunt (there are three), but on the air he asserted that there aren’t NO situations for the sac bunt, more that most of the conventionally accepted places for it should not be conventionally accepted. He did say that the best statistically succesful situation, in terms of runs produced, for a sac bunt was 1st and 2nd and nobody out, and not just a man on first.
    Re: IBB – I will scour the Prospectus. Surely there’s a maniacal, horn-rimmed-glasses-with-tape-on-the-nose-wearing gearhead crunching numbers on that item.

    SF May 13, 2004, 5:06 pm
  • Depending on who’s at the dish, I am in favor of the sac bunt when the winning run is on second, since a sac fly will then win the game. It all depends on who’s at the plate. Ideally, you’d like a guy to hit it to the right side of the infield to advance the runner and hope it finds a hole.
    But I might be talking out of my ass, my head is still spinning from my beloved Spurs losing.

    JeremyM (YF) May 14, 2004, 12:25 am

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