Bunting and the Brewers

The Brewers opened an important three-game set against the Cardinals with a win on Friday night, scoring in just about every way imaginable, including a little bit of smallball — they had three sacrifice bunts on the night to go with their two home runs, three doubles, and a triple.

Those three bunts push the Brewers’ season sacrifice total to 31, as seen in the Runnin’ Ron-O-Meter. That’s more than an entire game’s worth of free outs given up, so it made me curious — just how often have those forfeited outs worked in the Brewers’ favor?

I went through all 31 of the Brewers’ sacrifice bunts to this point, logging each bunt and the end result for the runners being bunted over. The list of bunts and summary of the results are after the jump.

4/4 – 0 outs, Morgan bunts Betancourt to 3B, Betancourt does not score
4/4 – 0 outs, Nieves bunts Morgan to 2B, Morgan does not score
4/8 – 0 outs, Morgan bunts Betancourt to 2B and McGehee to 3B, McGehee scores on Kottaras GO
4/9 – 0 outs, Morgan bunts Weeks to 2B, Weeks scores on Braun 2B
4/9 – 1 out, Narveson bunts Kotsay to 3B and Nieves to 2B, Kotsay and Nieves do not score
4/10 – 1 out, Gallardo bunts Kottaras to 2B, Kottaras does not score
4/10 – 0 out, Gallardo bunts Kottaras to 2B, Kottaras does not score
4/10 – 0 outs, Counsell bunts Betancourt to 2B, Betancourt scores on McGehee HR
4/18 – 0 outs, Marcum bunts Lucroy to 2B, Lucroy scores on Gomez 1B
4/18 – 0 outs, Marcum bunts Lucroy to 2B, Lucroy does not score
4/18 – 0 outs, Gomez bunts Weeks to 2B; Gomez safe, Weeks to 3B on E, Weeks scores on Braun SF
4/23 – 0 outs, Gomez bunts Counsell to 2B, Counsell scores on Braun HR
4/27 – 0 outs, Gomez bunts Weeks to 2B, Weeks later scores on E6
5/1 – 0 outs, Narveson bunts Lucroy to 2B, Lucroy does not score
5/2 – 0 outs, Gomez bunts Weeks to 2B, Weeks does not score
5/5 – 0 outs, Morgan bunts Weeks to 2B, Weeks does not score
5/10 – 0 outs, Marcum bunts Lucroy to 3B, Lucroy scores on Weeks 1B
5/14 – 0 outs, Counsell bunts Hart home and Weeks to 2B, Weeks scores on Fielder 1B
5/16 – 1 out, Marcum bunts Betancourt to 3B and Lucroy to 2B, Betancourt and Lucroy do not score
5/17 – 0 outs, Weeks bunts Wolf to 3B, Wolf does not score
5/20 – 1 out, Greinke bunts Betancourt to 3B and Gomez to 2B, Gomez and Betancourt do not score
5/20 – 0 outs, Hart bunts Weeks to 3B, Weeks scores on Braun groundout
5/20 – 0 outs, Gomez bunts Nieves to 2B, Nieves does not score
5/22 – 0 outs, Wolf bunts Gomez to 2B, Gomez scores on Braun 3B
5/27 – 0 outs, Marcum bunts Morgan to 2B, Morgan scores on Weeks HR
5/27 – 0 outs, Marcum bunts Morgan to 3B, Morgan scores on Weeks FC
6/5 – 0 outs, Narveson bunts Wilson to 2B, Wilson scores on Weeks 1B
6/6 – 0 outs, Greinke bunts Lucroy to 2B, Lucroy scores on Morgan 1B
6/10 – 0 outs, Morgan bunts Weeks to 2B, Weeks scores on Braun HR
6/10 – 0 outs, Lucroy bunts Counsell to 2B, Counsell scores on Weeks 2B
6/10 – 0 outs, Narveson bunts Counsell home and Lucroy to 2B, Lucroy later scores on Morgan SF

Total Sacrifice Bunts: 31

No Runners Scored: 13
Runner Scored on HR: 4
Runner Scored on 3B: 1
Runner Scored on 2B: 2
Runner Scored on 1B: 5
Runner Scored on GO/SF/FC: 5
Runner Scored on E: 1

Just a few observations:

- In 13 of the 31 bunting situations, the runner bunted over did not score (about 42%)
- Factor in the times a bunted-over runner scored on home runs or triples (situations in which the runner would score no matter what base they were on), 18 of the 31 bunts could be considered wasted or non-productive outs (58%). I’m hesitant to throw doubles into this, because we’d have to go back and look at the actual play to determine whether or not the runner would’ve been able to score from first.
- If the bunts are being done to score a runner on a single, out, or error, it’s happened that way 11 times (35.4%).
- Pitchers are going to be asked to bunt more often than not, but 16 of the 31 sacrifices have been made by position players this year. That already matches last year’s total of position player sac bunts. The 2010 Brewers had 35 total sac bunts over the course of the entire season.

I’ve made my feelings on giving up outs pretty clear, so I won’t keep beating on that dead horse. I’ll leave it open for discussion, though — has the bunting been worth it so far?

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