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Bunting is for winners?

The Brooklyn Bum
Jun 17 2005 10:44 PM

Ok, so I wanted to check out some stats on how effective bunting is. I know that bunting increases the chances of scoring exactly one run, but lowers the chance of scoring multiple runs.

Well I found the [url=http://walkoffbalk.com/tools/winexp/index.php]Win Expectancy Finder[/url] and played around with it.

I remember back in the early 90's when the Pirates were the team to beat they seemingly always had a runner on first and bunted him over in the first inning.

So I plugged in what I thought a typical situation where a team would get one run in the first from bunting:
Inning: 1
Outs: 2
Runners on: 0
Score: +1

The winning % for games like that is 66.2%. Now obviously what this reenforces is that you are much more likely to win if you score the first run, but it seems to indicate to me that bunting to get that first run across in the first inning is good baseball.

Where am I going wrong on this?

Edgy DC
Jun 18 2005 12:14 AM

Great tool. But this is what I show:

Visiting team has runner on first in the first with no outs.

Exp: .495

Visiting team has runner on second in the first with one out.

Exp: .485

Frayed Knot
Jun 18 2005 12:25 AM

]I know that bunting increases the chances of scoring exactly one run


Only sometimes (depending on the personnel involved) and just barely even when it does.
In the meantime, the big innings you'll help to defuse will more than makeup for the occasional time you do "steal" that early run -- hence the reduction in run expectation.

Frayed Knot
Jun 18 2005 12:56 AM

]So I plugged in what I thought a typical situation where a team would get one run in the first from bunting:
Inning: 1 -- Outs: 2 -- Runners on: 0 -- Score: +1

The winning % for games like that is 66.2%. Now obviously what this reenforces is that you are much more likely to win if you score the first run, but it seems to indicate to me that bunting to get that first run across in the first inning is good baseball.

Where am I going wrong on this?



You're going wrong because you've made a couple of assumptions (and when you assume ... )
first, you're assuming that your sac bunt is successful (not always the case),
then you're assuming that the bunt will lead to a run (not always the case),
and finally you're assuming that the team would not have scored at least as many or more runs had you not bunted (certainly not the case).

What you've done here is outline a specific scenario where a successful sac bunt does lead to an edge. The mistake is in thinking that this is the one and only outcome of your strategy and that it's opposite can't also be as good or better.