Laying It Down, Part 2

Last week, I used some different metrics to quantify bunting performance in 2010.  In this post, I would like to build on what I found after researching the first part of this post.  The clear issue with using data from only one year is that it becomes susceptible to small sample sizes, and since bunt attempts occur on such a small percentage of swings, that issue is magnified in this case.  In order to get a better feel for bunting skill, I've set up the statistics I used last week for 2008 and 2009 data.  Before I get into go on, I'd like to revisit the league averages that I showed at the beginning of last week's post. 

Attempt% Fair% Foul% Missed%
2008 .020 .501 .425 .074
2009 .020 .509 .421 .070
2010 .019 .505 .416 .080

.019 .502 .423 .075

Hit% Out% Sac% Double Play%
2008 .189 .285 .515 .011
2009 .177 .288 .528 .007
2010 .188 .286 .517 .009

.184 .286 .520 .009

The league-wide samples stay pretty consistent year to year, which is good for establishing baselines for these metrics.  However, the samples that I used in last week's post (20 bunt attempts or 10 fair bunts) did not correlate very well year-to-year.  Notable R^2 are as follows: hit% - .514, out% - .226, sac% - .528, Bunt Runs/100 - .178.  The one that surprised me the most, however, was coefficient of determination for fair bunt%.  That was only .065, which I found strange considering fair bunt% appears to be a distinct skill.  Bear in mind that even though we're looking at three years' worth of data, it's still a small sample size.  In order to get players that were qualified bunters in back-to-back years, I had to eliminate all but 82 of the individual seasons.  I was particularly puzzled by the low correlation for fair bunts, which I figured would be a detectable skill even in the limited sample.  
Since we appear to have some of the SSS blues, I think the best way for us to cheer ourselves up is to open up the leaderboards to include 2008 and 2009 data.  Well, maybe that's just me.  Anyway, this section is going to contain a lot of tables - I'll have leaders and trailers for all of the metrics I discussed last week, along with some commentary when I feel it is necessary.  Also, the minimums are now at 50 bunt attempts and 25 fair bunts.  I'll begin with attempt percentage, for which I won't show any trailers (there 55 qualified players who haven't attempted a bunt in the three years).  Oh, also, the swing minimum for attempt% is 1,000. 


Rank Name Swing# Attempt%
1 Willy Taveras 1625 .118
2 Carlos Gomez 2178 .114
3 Julio Borbon 1049 .104
4 Emilio Bonifacio 1666 .093
5 Erick Aybar 2420 .092
6 Nyjer Morgan 2181 .091
7 Juan Pierre 2386 .086
8 Gregor Blanco 1293 .081
9 Alexi Casilla 1290 .078
10 Luis Castillo 1652 .076

My love for the fair bunt% statistic is slightly diminished after seeing how poorly it correlated in my data, but I still think that it's an important statistic to look at.  Below are the 10 leaders and trailers for fair bunt%; Chris Young (of the Diamondbacks) is really in a league of his own. 

Rank Name Attempts Fair Bunt%
1 Ramon Santiago 65 .769
2 Joey Gathright 78 .692
3 David Eckstein 78 .679
4 Clayton Kershaw 62 .677
5 Zach Duke 64 .672
6 Scott Podsednik 68 .662
7 Cole Hamels 53 .660
8 Franklin Gutierrez 51 .627
9 Ryan Dempster 80 .625
10 Elvis Andrus 103 .621

1x Chris Young 51 .157
2x Rajai Davis 78 .295
3x Corey Hart 69 .333
4x Omar Infante 55 .364
5x Melky Cabrera 65 .369
6x B.J. Upton 73 .370
7x Emilio Bonifacio 155 .381
8x Emmanuel Burriss 70 .386
9x Brendan Ryan 75 .387
10x Ted Lilly 66 .394

The next set of leaderboards are for hit%, out%, and sac% out of fair bunts.  

Rank Name Fair Bunts Hit%
1 Ichiro Suzuki 37 .568
2 Lastings Milledge 25 .480
3 Jacoby Ellsbury 38 .474
4 Gregor Blanco 60 .450
5 Angel Pagan 36 .444
6 Jose Reyes 40 .425
7 Rafael Furcal 48 .417
8 Alexi Casilla 60 .417
9 Michael Bourn 99 .404
10 Carlos Gomez 117 .385


Rank Name Fair Bunts Out%
1 Josh Anderson 26 .615
2 Emilio Bonifacio 59 .525
3 Joey Gathright 54 .519
4 Juan Pierre 107 .505
5 Tony Gwynn 39 .487
6 Rafael Furcal 48 .479
7 Carlos Gomez 117 .479
8 Emmanuel Burriss 27 .444
9 Nyjer Morgan 100 .440
10 Willy Taveras 107 .439


Rank Name Fair Bunts Sac%
1 Braden Looper 25 .960
2 Jamie Moyer 29 .931
3 Ricky Nolasco 28 .893
4 Roy Oswalt 34 .882
5 Hiroki Kuroda 30 .867
6 Barry Zito 35 .857
7 Ryan Dempster 50 .840
8 Clayton Kershaw 42 .833
9 Livan Hernandez 28 .821
10 Derek Lowe 37 .811

Unsurprisingly, all of the sacrifice leaders are pitchers.  The first position players to appear on the list are Daric Barton (.760), Yuniesky Betancourt (.724), and Jamey Carroll (.720).  

Like I did last week, I will end with a glance at the best overall bunters with linear weights - this includes a weighting of their hits, sacrifices, and outs, and also takes into account missed and foul bunts.  Again, I will present in a counting form and in the form of bunting runs / 100 pitches.  However, in order to (hopefully) make it more intuitive, the rate stat will be scaled to the league average bunt as opposed to the league average event.  Over the past three seasons, the average bunt has been worth -3.53 runs per 100 pitches, so that will be what I consider "average," or 0.  Onto the best and worst bunters of the past three years:


Rank Name Bunt Runs
1 Ichiro Suzuki 5.41
2 Alexi Casilla 4.67
3 Gregor Blanco 4.32
4 Jacoby Ellsbury 3.87
5 Angel Pagan 3.77
6 Michael Bourn 2.70
7 Rafael Furcal 2.16
8 Erick Aybar 1.98
9 Cliff Pennington 1.94
10 Gerald Laird 1.84

1x Juan Pierre -9.54
2x Ryan Dempster -6.57
3x Ubaldo Jimenez -6.42
4x Bronson Arroyo -6.08
5x Zach Duke -5.88
6x Mike Pelfrey -5.69
7x Ted Lilly -5.54
8x Derek Lowe -5.44
9x Orlando Hudson -5.35
10x Chad Billingsley -5.00


Rank Name Bunt Runs / 100
1 Ichiro Suzuki 9.97
2 Angel Pagan 8.99
3 Jacoby Ellsbury 8.31
4 Alexi Casilla 8.19
5 Gregor Blanco 7.65
6 Cliff Pennington 6.26
7 Rafael Furcal 6.07
8 Coco Crisp 5.78
9 Gerald Laird 5.67
10 Jose Reyes 5.37

1x Mike Pelfrey -7.00
2x Jeff Suppan -6.33
3x Ubaldo Jimenez -6.20
4x Zach Duke -5.66
5x Derek Lowe -5.54
6x Ted Lilly -4.87
7x Jair Jurrjens -4.86
8x Cole Hamels -4.70
9x Ryan Dempster -4.69
10x Clayton Kershaw -4.22

As usual, the trailers include a lot of pitchers, who don't tend to get a lot of bunt hits.  The first position players that appear on the list are Chris Young (-2.54), Brendan Ryan (-2.42), Tony Gwynn (-2.29), Yuniesky Betancourt (-1.70), and Juan Pierre (-1.13).  Pierre has appeared a lot in these two posts, typically as a trailer in some category.  Based on the data for these three years, he doesn't have the ability to be a productive enough bunter to offset his great number of bunt attempts.  In fact, of the ten players that topped the attempt% list I showed at the beginning of this post, Pierre was the only player to grade out as a below-average bunter.  One other note - I'm skeptical of the bunt runs values for Pennington and Furcal since Pennington had a bunt double and Furcal had two.  Bunt doubles are essentially flukes, and since doubles are worth a lot more than singles are, they skew the run value totals.    

With that, I'll put an end to this venture into bunting.  There are more questions that I'd like to investigate (team bunting statistics and the impact of leverage on bunting as two that come to mind), and most importantly, I think we just need more data.  For the time being, I would like to recognize Ichiro Suzuki as the best bunter of the past three years.     


Fair bunt data are from Fangraphs.  Foul and missed bunt data were generated from Joe Lefkowitz's PITCHf/x tool.  

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