Author Topic: More About Bunting and Beating the Shift  (Read 104 times)


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More About Bunting and Beating the Shift
« on: October 12, 2017, 10:12:06 AM »
Apparently what Im really interested in these days is bunting. Which is a little odd, but which is Damien Wilson Jersey  also a welcome break from considering pitch-framing constantly. And though bunting is ordinarily linked to the dreaded and unproductive sacrifice, a well-placed bunt in fair territory could make for any hell of the weapon, in particular when its put down by a left-handed hitter against a defensive overshift. Everybodys talking about shifting these days, and while its hard for a hitter to make dramatic changes to his swing, oftentimes theres a single there for the taking, also it would require no swing whatsoever. So bunting and also the shift are worth analyzing in greater detail.
Yesterday, I had been excited to generate some bunting statistics Id never witne sed anywhere before. Obviously, Id seen bunt batting averages and whatnot, but Id never seen attempts, including foul bunts and mi sed bunts. I had been very happy to obtain that data, however the data also didnt say enough. You cant just characterize a good bunt as a succe sful bunt. And within all bunt attempts are attempts at different sorts of bunts. A sacrifice bunt is different from a bunt for a hit, along with a bunt for a hit against the shift differs from a bunt for a hit against a normal alignment. I managed to get an objective to dig just a little deeper, because, what exactly is it to bunt from the shift, really?
The very first thing Used to do was pull up this short article in the Hardball Times, referring to hitters shifted usually. That mostly confirmed things i wouldve expected. Then I started generating numbers. I looked for bunt attempts by lefties with nobody on base. Then I narrowed the numbers down, based on who I figured was bunting against the shift, and who was just bunting to have an ordinary attempted single. The former group was mostly plodders and sluggers  the second group was mostly speedsters. This required some judgment calls, since i didnt confirm each and every attempt on video, but while the numbers may not be perfect, they ought to be close. I generated numbers for 2013, and then Used to do the same for 2012, following a same guidelines and a sumptions.
It wont surprise you to learn there havent been all that many bunt attempts from the shift. This is actually the very reason certain people happen to be complaining. I created approximately 200 attempts over two years. Of those attempts, 38% were bunted fair, and 25% of the bunts resulted in the batter reaching base, either on a hit or perhaps an error. Quite simply, certainly one of four attempted bunts place the batter on, but a couple of three bunts in play worked out, which isnt a shock. Thing about the overshift is theres not really anyone nearby to do the fielding.
You might think these rates look low. Or you might think these rates look high! We dont genuinely have a frame of reference. What we should solution is the fact that these are the rates by and large posted with a group of hitters who dont have much experience bunting. So with more practice, wed expect some improvement. Heres Athletics batter Brandon Mo s, who frequently faces a shift:
A large amount of guys might look at it as, If I bunt, Im not giving myself an opportunity to drive Stephen Paea Jersey  the ball. Youre just giving yourself an opportunity to jump on base for your team. It had been something I wanted to complete this past year, but I was cluele s that things i was doing. I think they need me to get it done, too.
Mo s acknowledges that bunting was weird. Hes actively working this spring training to create bunting le s weird. What you might expect is the fact that Mo s would become better at bunting succe sfully. And then thats just something to po se s in his back pocket.
This is what a normal succe sful bunt from the shift appears like:
And this is how easy it is to achieve base if you're able to put the ball where you want:
What might be the upside for shifted hitters understanding how to bunt? The undisputed king of bunting to beat the shift is Carlos Pena. Since 2008, with nobody on, Pena has attempted a bunt 65 times. Hes bunted the ball fair 33 times, and hes reached base 23 times. Even with practice, Penas right around a 50/50 fair/not-fair rate, but hes turned much better than another of his attempts into bases. We find Jay Bruce at 30 attempts, with nine fair and five succe sful. Brian McCann also has 30 attempts, with eight fair and six succe sful. Whats  Daxton Swanson Jersey clear is the fact that bunting against the shift isnt automatic. Whats also clear is the fact that its worked often, and that these hitters could fare better if they just practiced their bunting more. I suppose thats just a gue s, however i feel good about it.
What does bunting before a shifted defense do in order to the defense? In the end, there are two thoughts  not only can a bunt mean basics, however it may also mean an adjusted shift that may allow it to be more productive to swing away. It could even result in the shift disappear altogether. Heres Chris Davis showing bunt against the Angels last May:
In the next game, Davis tried a bunt. Heres the infield:
Overshift. Davis then tried to bunt again. Heres the infield:
The third baseman had moved in a little, but the shift was still on. Heres the infield after two bunt attempts, combined with the shown bunt the prior evening:
Still shifted. The third baseman had cheated over a little, but only with a matter of steps. So that as it happened, Davis hit a grounder right to him. The Angels acknowledged the bunt po sibility, but they did little to counter it.
How about Adrian Gonzalez, last July? Heres Gonzalez attempting a bunt:
Extreme shift. Gonzalez tried to bunt again, immediately:
Same shift. Heres the infield after the two bunt attempts:
No changes. In fairne s, Gonzalez didnt do much else to make a change  his bunts, in the end, were unsucce sful. Youd think a supervisor would only change his shift if he felt like there is an actual bunt threat. Why dont we sign in on something, then? Carlos Pena, as noted, is the king of bunting against the shift. Pena played quite a long time with Tampa Bay. Heres Pena facing Tampa Bay last season, before Pena was dropped:
Extreme shift. The Rays, obviously, hadnt ignored Penas bunting ability. However that picture was taken with two Ryan Davis Jersey  strikes, and with two strikes, the Rays changed things up, swapping Yunel Escobar and Evan Longoria. Heres the way the Rays played Pena before two-strike counts:
Still three shifted infielders, but one in close, protecting against the po sible bunt attempt. Penas history didnt make the Rays to abandon the shift  it simply caused them to alter it a little, moving one guy closer in and nearer to third. Thats also the Davon Coleman Jersey  one guy least prone to po se s a batted ball hit on the floor in his direction anyway. The me sage being, bunts dont result in the shift disappear. A minimum of, theres no evidence of that yet. They might simply make the shifts look a bit different, but most of the actions still going to go between first and second base. There might be more area exposed around in which the shortstop would usually be, but lefties dont hit a lot of grounders there, there is still an opposing player with that side no matter what.
The math is still probably on the side of more bunt attempts. Its definitely along the side of hitters practicing bunting more often to enable them to quite simply when it counts. There should at least function as the perception of the threat of a bunt. Over the last 2 yrs, shifted batters havent been great bunters, but when theyve bunted the ball fair theyve reached base two times as frequently as they havent. The numbers show that bunting against the shift is as simple as no means a simple thing, not that any facet of hitting is simple. And based on the Carlos Pena/Rays example, it doesnt look like bunting is the means to fix eliminating the overshift. It could just slightly alter the overshift, if bunts are dropped down with greater succe s and greater frequency. Shifting, presumably, is here now to remain. The only question is exactly what the shifts are going to look like.