FanPost

Investigating Sacrifice Hits

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

OK. I am getting annoyed at the whole bunting debacle. So I decided to investigate, as best I could, how the Cleveland Indians bunt this season. This process was painful, and took more time than I had hoped. I decided to look at every single sacrifice hit this season, and catalogue them. I did NOT look at every bunt attempt this season (that would have been too tedious), I only looked at successful sacrifice bunts. Therefore this information is incomplete, but Baseball Reference keeps track of sacrifice hits, it is more difficult to cycle through bunt attempts. Here's what I found: first the Indians have 29 successful sacrifice hits this season, which is about a successful attempt once every four games. Some other key take aways:

Finding 1: Tito does not Bunt with More than 2 Outs

OK. Out of all the successful sacrifice attempts all came with no outs. I also found only one pitcher with a sacrifice hit this season, Trevor Bauer (which is interesting). However, if Tito is going to bunt: you want to bunt with no outs. Otherwise it's a waste.

Finding 2: The Runner Scored 55% of the Time

Not sure what this means, but out of all the times the Tribe successfully sacrificed: they scored the runner 55% of the time. Now, this does NOT mean that the runner would not have scored without the sacrifice, but it does mean that more often than not: the Tribe scores the runner they move over. I am not sure how this compares to other teams (I'm not doing this for every other team in baseball).

Finding 3: Tito typically has the Right Players Bunt

The team's bunting leader is Mike Freeman, not exactly an offensive juggernaut. Next is Oscar Mercado, which is actually a good thing in my view (Oscar is pretty fast). Jason Kipnis & Roberto Perez are next at 4, Leonys Martin had 3. Then: Greg Allen & Tyler Naquin at 2. Trevor Bauer, Francisco Lindor, Eric Stamets, and Max Morroff all had one. The important thing for me is that typically Tito uses his lesser hitters to move players over (Kipnis last bunted on July 7th).

Finding 4: The Indians Win Most of the Sacrifice Bunt Games

The Tribe has won 18 of 27 games when they sacrifice bunt.

Conclusion

Overall, I am not sure what any of this means. I hope it helps people understand what's happening with the bunting, and was a sort of interesting investigation.

Find my raw data here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1j_Q_dsd2pSFqMDsb8tiLmCB3E3sdH75c-nUqy9yjZKI

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Editor's note: The Academy of Bunting Sciences endorses this original research

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