The nerds won the bunting war


Michael Salfino of The Wall Street Journal wrote a story about how sacrifice bunts have gone down dramatically over the pat decade and chalks it up, correctly, I think, to sabermetrics and clubs getting super sophisticated about analytics. Most of those analytics show that bunting, in the aggregate, is a bad play which reduces run-scoring rather than enhances it, ergo it’s on the outs.

This is another one of those things which will likely lead to people arguing the apples of analytics vs. the oranges of simply enjoying baseball and traditional strategy. I hope we can agree that we don’t have to have such arguments, however.

Personally speaking, I have been convinced of the lack of utility to bunting for as long as I’ve been reading the work of Bill James and his progeny and I’ll disagree with a manager’s choice to bunt far more than I’ll agree. But I still greatly enjoy watching a well-executed bunt play from time to time, or a great defensive play that results from a bunt. The thing is — and this is really hard for some sabermetrically-oriented fans to remember sometimes — is that we don’t have to consume the game from the perspective of an armchair manager or GM. We can just watch the spectacle. Bunts can be good spectacle sometimes.

When the Braves are in the World Series this fall and Fredi Gonzalez calls for a bunt, I’ll get mad. But if it works, heck, I’ll enjoy it.