Despite being in the AL and a team with some decent power potential, the Cleveland Indians are currently sacrifice bunting more than any other team in the American League. As of June 27, the Tribe have sacrifice bunted a total of 21 times, which puts them at the top of the AL and ahead of or tied with six teams in the National League (you know, the league where pitchers are in the lineup and sac bunt almost every opportunity they are given).
Most sacrifice bunts by team (AL and NL)
- Pittsburgh Pirates (32)
- Atlanta Braves (28)
- Miami Marlins (28)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (27)
- Washington Nationals (27)
- Cincinnati Reds (25)
- Los Angeles Dodgers (23)
- Philadelphia Phillies (23)
- Milwaukee Brewers (22)
- Cleveland Indians (21)
The idea behind a sacrifice bunt is simple and makes sense on the surface: if you have a runner on and no outs, why not move him up a spot so he can either be in scoring position on second base or a sacrifice fly away from a run on third? Digging deeper, however, reveals that sacrifice bunting is rarely-to-never worth it. In its simple form, the explanation is that advancing a runner isn't worth nearly as much value as you give up by losing an out. After all, you only have 27 of them to win a game, so they should be treated as solid gold throughout a game.
Back in 2013, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com went into great detail about why the sacrifice bunt is dying, including some insight from players, and it's really worth a read if you're interested in the reasoning behind why sabermetrics hates bunting.
Apparently, despite being in an organization that openly embraces the new wave of statistics in baseball, Indians manager Terry Francona doesn't subscribe to this theory. It's embarrassingly frustrating to watch an out being wasted on a sac bunt when the team is up or down by a single run, but even worse when -- like last night 's botched bunt attempt by Francisco Lindor -- it results in nothing more than an out.
The Tribe batters leading the team in bunts aren't all that surprising. Michael Bourn, who hasn't been able to hit most anything all year long, leads the Indians with five sacrifice bunts, which puts him as the fourth most frequent sac bunter in the league among position players. The next closest Indian is Jose Ramirez with four sac bunts, and we all know how well his offensive game worked out this year in the Majors.
With all the Indians offensive problems, most of which involve not being able to hit with runners on base, it's hard to point to only sacrifice bunting as the problem, but it's definitely a big one. It's a problem which can, and should, be easily fixed if someone on the coaching staff can realize and convince Tito it's not helping.