Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Art of Bunting

Bunting is an important part of the game but by my observation there are far fewer baseball cards featuring a bunt than any other kind of plate appearance. Bunting situations come up in many games, where a player is asked to give himself up to advance a runner. And of course, some players are known to bunt for a hit, sometimes to keep a hitting streak alive. Here are some of my favorite cards featuring bunting.Baseball-Reference.com gives a stat for sacrifice bunts but I don't think they have any statistics on how many bunt singles a player has. In his career, Alomar laid down 148 sac bunts, amounting to 1.4% of his plate appearances.
This is probably more of a swinging bunt rather than a straight sacrifice. Biggio was known for bunting for hits. He put down 101 sac bunts, 0.8% of his plate appearances.
Brett Butler is known for bunting for hits and I have more cards of Butler bunting than of any other player. As for sac bunts, he had 147, 1.5% of his plate appearances, just ahead of Alomar.
Here's another card featuring Butler bunting.
I wouldn't say that Crawford was known for bunting but I like this card. 0.6% of his plate appearances resulted in sac bunts.
My recollection is that Lenny bunted a lot but only 0.5% (25 total) of his plate appearances were sac bunts. Of course, Dykstra was generally a lead off guy and wouldn't be asked to sacrifice too often.
Clearly Ken Griffey wasn't being paid to sacrifice bunt. He has only 8 in his long career. A sac fly was more expected, with 101, 0.9% of his plate appearances.
I don't get to see Ichiro play much but my impression is that he gets a lot of bunt singles. Not may sacrifices however, only 24 or 0.4% of his plate appearances.
The only cards I have of a pitcher bunting are of Greg Maddox. Of course, most pitcher cards feature the player doing what he does best, which is pitch. Maddox has 180 sac bunts during his career, a full 10% of his plate appearances. By contrast, he only has 2 sac flies. I wonder how those happened.
Considering that he's in a batting cage, I'd guess that McGee was practicing bunting on this card.
Mouton looks pretty desperate in this photo. He must be trying to bunt against a guy with a 100 mph fastball.
Here's another guy who wasn't being paid to bunt. He only has 17 sac bunts in his career and I'll bet he didn't try for a bunt hit very often. So this is a rare photo of Sosa. He only has 17 sac bunts against 78 sac flies.

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