According to the chart you can find at this link, there is evidence that the sacrifice bunt at the Major League level should not be an automatic strategy employed by managers. A team actually has a better chance of scoring (on average) with a runner at first and no outs than with a runner at second and one out. Obviously, there are nuances to this (say, for example, that the pitcher is batting), but on the whole bunting is not the wisest strategy in such cases. This runs contrary to traditional baseball wisdom, but it is true nonetheless.
Why, then, does the evidence not alter the thinking of so many modern managers?
The traditional crowd, the majority, shouts too loud at them for not doing what has been for so long thought to be the automatic thing to do. It’s a shame, really, that so few managers think for themselves and are unwilling to go against the grain.
But, before we crucify baseball managers for not paying attention to and heeding what analysis provides for them, we need to examine ourselves. As it often does, baseball simply gives us a look at some of the spiritual issues going on inside of us.
Proverbs 8:1-11 places wisdom in the center of town, shouting out to people to listen. Verses 8-9: “All the utterances of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing crooked or perverted in them. They are all straightforward to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge.”
In other words, this stuff is obvious. Just like the flawed strategy of bunting all the time.
Why, then, does this evidence and instruction from God Himself not infiltrate more of our minds and alter our daily decisions?
The overwhelming, traditional, and sinful crowd doesn’t applaud it. And they never will.
To live as God has called you to live will make you like a manager who refuses to bunt when everyone else says he should. It will require you to live in such a way that few people understand, and still fewer like. Your parents may not get it, your teammates may think you are crazy, and you may even wonder at times if it is truly the best path to take.
But God promises that living according to his wisdom is always best–verse 11: “For wisdom is better than jewels; and all desirable things cannot compare with her (wisdom).
The wisdom of God seems like foolishness to our sinful world. It always will. Jesus himself experienced this…instead of taking military action to free his people, Jesus died for them to save their souls. Instead of calling us to assert ourselves and just try harder in life, Jesus tells us to die daily so that he may live in and through us.
Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold. It is a sinful place that is dying. Look to Jesus, the one whose wisdom can save you and keep you from caving to the crowd that ignores and dismisses God’s way of thinking.
What are the most flawed strategies you see in baseball and in life? Leave a comment on the blog, Twitter, or Facebook. I’d love to hear from you.
I’m curious what the success rate of the sac bunt is. Although a man on 1st with 0 outs has a better chance of scoring than a man on 2nd with 1 out, if the batter fails to hit successfully, a man on first with 1 out has less chance of scoring than a man on 2nd with 1 out. It makes sense to me that if the success rate of a sac bunt is higher than your team’s OBP, you might as well bunt.
Sometimes its better to foul off two bunts then come at the next pitch swinging and hit a home run to eliminate the Braves from the playoffs.
I think you’re right…the intelligence of using the bunt is dependent upon the circumstances and context. There are times when it is a smart play, but more often than not, it reduces the chance of scoring a run. This debate is fascinating to me. Small ball (bunting, etc.) works well at the high school level, where fielders are not as proficient and more readily throw the ball away. But at the Major League level, it’s often just giving the defense and out.
BTW, have you read any of the stuff on Sabermetrics? Seems like you would enjoy it. Moneyball, Extra 2%, Baseball Behind the Numbers. I also read fangraphs.com and baseballprospectus.com with regularity.