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Bunting against the shift

13 Responses to Bunting against the shift

  1. DB says:

    Thanks for posting these articles back here again. The quality of comments is much higher and even if Invitro drives me crazy at times, I usually learn something at the same time.

  2. Pak says:

    As a Twins fan, the first thing I need to say is the Twins are nuts to complain. Second, I’m surprised that I haven’t seen anyone point out that Eddie Rosario did the same thing earlier to praise from the Twins announcers. The complaints are treating the one-hitter Berrios had going as if it were a perfect game, which leads me to want to write a new unwritten rule to deal with how the game has changed: If a pitcher is going for a no hitter after the seventh inning, STOP SHIFTING. If a player or team won’t bunt away from a shift to stop a no-no they are not trying hard enough.

  3. invitro says:

    I love the name Chance Sisco and I love the term prima facie. (And sorry for the worthless comment.)

  4. Unvenfurth says:

    This “controversey” is so stupid. No one criticizes a quarterback for throwing short against a prevent defense. If the defense plays an extreme shift, bunt every time, hell bat .400 because of it. Force them to play you at least somewhat straight.

  5. Marc Schneider says:

    This is why they call them “dumb jocks.” I wonder if they are taken aback by the amount of criticism they are getting. Did they not realize how idiotic they were going to look? I guess not; again “dumb jocks.”

  6. Mark Garbowski says:

    If I were good enough to play in the majors and a team shifted against me, I like to think I would have the guts to bunt even in a perfect game or no-hitter in the 9th inning.

  7. sundiego says:

    Cisco is getting paid to get on base, I’m sure his contract is incentivized for tiers of batting average, on base percentage, hits or something else. The more he gets on base the longer he stays in the majors.

    Reminds me of Crash Davis in Bull Durham

    “Know what the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is? It’s 25 hits. 25 hits in 500 at bats is 50 points, okay? There’s 6 months in a season, that’s about 25 weeks. That means if you get just one extra flare a week – just one – a gorp… you get a groundball, you get a groundball with eyes… you get a dying quail, just one more dying quail a week… and you’re in Yankee Stadium.”

  8. Rob Smith says:

    The funniest thing to me was the fact that when I played High School ball, if there was a dominant, unhittable pitcher, the next move was almost always to try to bunt your way on base. Of course, nobody in High School was playing the 3rd baseman in short leftfield, so it usually didn’t work. But, yeah… if you’re struggling to hit someone, you should do anything possible to get on base.

    Anyways, the “unwritten rules” used to largely be based on not showing up other players and calling attention to yourself. No bad flips, no stare downs, no mound celebrations after a strikeout, no slow walks around the bases after a homerun. And there are some around not rubbing it in when you’re up big late in the game. So, bunting for a hit, when you’re UP 10 runs in the 9th inning might raise the ire of the other team. (But clearly not down by any amount). Although that can get idiotic too, at least none of that stuff has to do with (not) trying to win a game.

    Rule 1: try to win the game in any way possible. Rule 2: If there is any confusion in regards to unwritten rules, see Rule 1.

  9. Gene says:

    In the mid-1980s when the Cardinals were stealing bushels full of bases, if a team would complain about the Cards stealing when they had a big lead, Whitey Herzog would typically say, I’ll tell my base stealers not to steal when you tell your home-run hitters to stop trying for homers [paraphrase].

  10. Joe, I am with you on combating the shift. It’s getting ridiculous.

    The reference to Williams (who I don’t think was the first–didn’t they try the shift on Babe Ruth?) reminds me of another way to combat it. Jimmie Foxx was on the Red Sox when Williams came up. One day, I think when Foxx was with the A’s, somebody claimed he couldn’t hit behind the runner. Foxx said he could. That day, with a runner at first, Foxx came up, choked up on the bat, aimed to hit toward right … and hit the ball into the right field seats.

    • invitro says:

      Apparently, teams occasionally used an *outfield* shift on Ruth. I also found mentions of shifts used on Ken Williams and Cy Williams. Don’t know what kind of shifts those were.

      • Thanks, invitro. I think that distinction is important. But it reminded me of another story, which I don’t think is apocryphal and doesn’t really involve a shift, but …. Ty Cobb played in an Old-Timers Game at Yankee Stadium. When he got to the plate, he turned to Wally Schang, the catcher from the 1927 Yankees, and said something like, “Wally, I haven’t touched a bat in 10 years and I’m afraid if you’re too close I’ll hit you with it if it slips out of my hand. Could you back up a little?” Schang said of course, and backed up a few feet. Cobb then dropped a bunt for a base hit.

  11. Chris H says:

    I am way late to this but I’m going to comment anyway. This reminds me of one of Bill James’s essays from the mid-80’s, which was about the breadth and narrowness of skills (people don’t really talk that way anymore, but basically, how many things can you do on a baseball diamond), and Manny Mota. The question was, could a player’s skills be narrow enough that even hitting .400 you couldn’t make a team, and the answer was apparently yes, because Manny Mota.
    And I looked, and this really is kind of remarkable, in his last four seasons Mota hit .395, .303, .357, and .429 – that last one is 3 for 7, so it comes with a grain of salt, but what’s remarkable is that in those four seasons he had exactly one more plate appearance than games played. And he had 3 extra base hits, in 140ish ABs, in those four seasons, so basically all singles (and a few walks). He was a pinch hitter who had about an even money chance of giving you a single or a walk.
    So anyway, it has me wondering what would be the minimum acceptable success rate for, say, Jim Thome to reach base bunting where you would say bunting is the better option. It is well above .400 I would assume, from the Manny Mota case. Is it .600? I’m sure someone has studied this by now.

    (I choose Jim Thome because fans would regularly write the Cleveland beat writer Paul Hoynes asking why Thome didn’t start bunting, and Hoynes would answer, devoid of analysis, as is his forte, that that is exactly what teams want him to do. I was never convinced and wondered why they didn’t just walk him, if that was the case.)

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