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Small Ball


orca1963

Looking for some feedback. I see the Brewers play small ball when the pitcher is batting, but I am not seeing it in situations throughout the game. Two instances stand out especially for me. 0 outs, speed on 2nd base and speed at the plate. No bunt. One time the speed at the plate was Weeks who stands a decent chance of beating out a bunt, advancing the runner to third which gives the meat of the order the option of a sac fly. It just seems to me that Yost (and I am not a Yost hater) rarely uses the bunt except with the pitcher. I think with the speed of the Brewers this year this is a missed opportunity.

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I thought they had an opportunity to do so V Santana in the top of the 1st on Sat. Granted, it worked out in the end, but I would have had Gabe bunt Rickie to 3rd. There was nobody out @ Rickie had just stole 2nd. V pitchers like Santana, it sure is nice to get a run early.
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Bunts are losing plays. There is little to get around that fact. Bunting over runners lowers run expectancy.

 

Take the guy on 2B--why bunt when swining away can still advance the runner if the balls hit to the right or if you hit a deep fly. You get a hit and you get a run.

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Statistically, the expected number of runs with a runner on 2nd and no outs (1.19) is higher than the expected number of runs with a runner on 3rd and one out (0.99). Personally, I don't see a reason to give up an out with a capable hitter at the plate and other good hitters to come unless you need exactly one run (end of game, need to tie or win). You have a better chance at a big inning if you don't sacrifice with a runner on 2nd and no outs.

 

Here are some stats on the different base runner/out scenarios, based on 2007 results: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/statistics/sortable/index.php?cid=204022

 

As for not using our speed, the Brewers are 4th in the NL in SB and have the best SB% of those four (and one of those outs, Braun on the double steal, was a bad call by the ump). Speed is used in other situations, too, such as being aggressive and taking an extra base when possible. Corey Hart, in particular, has been doing this wonderfully.

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Small ball is something generally to be avoided, but when you do need it, it better be done really well or you're gonna miss a golden opportunity. I see small ball as mostly a late inning thing when only one run is needed.
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small ball only makes sense when the scoring environment on both sides will be small. Santana vs Sheets it makes some sense. Perez vs Suppan it doesn't make any. I never think it is a very good idea to bunt in the first inning though, pitchers struggle a lot of the time in the first and you have to pounce on that when it happens.
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has rickie tried to bunt for hits frequently? If not, the explanation is probably that he doesn't bunt very well because he has the speed to get on base if he bunts well.

 

small ball is important when one run will decide the game. Only then. And if you don't have to players to execute it, you shouldn't even do it then.

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Weeks is not a good bunter. Even with his speed he has a better chance of reaching base by swinging away. The only people who should be bunting before the 7th inning are the pitchers, TGJ, and Hart if he is trying for a bunt hit.

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The portion I like about small ball is ABC. Get the guy on, get him to third then get him in. When a leadoff double starts an inning why not try to hit the ball to right? For some hitters that is what they want them to do anyway to open up the field. A ball to the right side has a better chance of getting a hit than a bunt and serves the same purpose. Try to blast it btwn the first and second basemen and if you get height it's a tough throw to get the guy at third and definitely better than hit to right. Too many times the Brewers pop up or hit it to left. You know the coaches want that portion of small ball but these players haven't perfected it yet. Check out the dugout when a player grounds out to second advancing the runner to third. Plenty of handshakes. Like Kapler's double down the line that style of hitting created back to back runners at second since the ball got thru. Smart hitting!
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apparently, few hitters these days can adjust their hitting from AB to AB. I think they are getting coached to have repeatable strokes, and just don't have the ability to alter their approach.
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Here are some stats on the different base runner/out scenarios, based on 2007 results: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/statistics/sortable/index.php?cid=204022

Just curious, are there stats by pitcher. Do we know what the run expectancy is against Santana with a runner on 2nd no outs, or a runner on 3rd with one out? Are you factoring in that it could wind up 1st and 3rd no outs, or better if there is an error? Of course, the bunt could also be popped up, and you'd have runner on 2nd with one out. The point being, it's not as simple comparing general hypotheticals. The pitcher, runner, and batter all affect the outcome a certain way.

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I have nothing against a prolific bunter trying to bunt for a base hit on occation. I'm not sure if Weeks is that guy, however. I also agree that small ball makes alot more sense against a great pitcher like Santana. Still, I think straight sacrifices should be reserved for below average batter in almost all cases. The numbers generally back that up.
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The situation was Kapler at the plate and Rickie was on 2nd with 0 outs. I understand an agree with End and the rest of you...but...given it was against Santana and runs should be at a premium and (maybe I over-value) the psychology of getting an early lead against him...I just thought it was one of circumstances where the manager could play 'small-ball' and be justified in the approach.
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I agree with the general sentiment here. "Small Ball" has become a nice way of talking about giving away outs, imo. You only start the game with 27, so why any manager would want to intentionally decrease that number is beyond me... save extreme/specific circumstances. What's funny is that even in something like bunting with a runner on 2B w/no outs, which might appear the best use of a sac bunt, is almost useless, as Rluz mentioned. If the thinking is, 'A WP/PB scores the run', then there's an assumption that a pitcher is wild, otherwise you're playing a thousandth of a percentile, likely. If the P were wild, why not just let your batter BB his way aboard?

I think the concept of bunting a guy closer makes a lot of intuitive sense, especially when you factor in attempts to stay out of the double-play. However, as noted, the reality once again tends to outweigh the perception. http://forum.brewerfan.net/images/smilies/smile.gif

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"With a runner on first base and no outs, any hitter with an on-base percentage (OBP) of at least .206 and/or a slugging percentage (SLG) of at least .182 -- numbers that would encompass practically every hitter in the majors, including many pitchers -- should swing away. The only exception is when a team is playing specifically for one run, in which case the thresholds are a .282 OBP and/or .322 SLG."

 

Taken from the sac bunting thread which was a quote taken from this article(post from TLB, link from Casey1992)

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/27/AR2005082701172.html

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I think we have to be a little careful with applying "average situation" type analysis in that specific game. To play devil's advocate:

 

Santana is pretty much the most unaverage pitcher in the league right now and Sheets isn't too bad himself. That means the run expectency for that game was significantly below average, probably a solid couple of runs less, which is huge. That makes small ball strategy much more appealing in certain situations. With regard to the 1st inning situation:

 

0-0, Weeks at 2B, Kapler AB, no out

 

Despite Kapler's insanely good start, he should still be considered significantly below average hitter. Presuming a successful sacrifice, the odds of scoring at least 1 run does go up marginally against an average pitcher/defense.. not sure if that also applies against a pitcher like Santana. Is Kapler a good bunter? Doesn't look like he has very many sacrifices in his career, so I'd be tempted to say no.

 

I still don't think I would have called for it but there are far worse situations that you could call a sacrifice in.

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I never understand bunting with a runner in scoring position. When a hit will probably score a runner anyway, why would you waste an out? I don't even like when a pitcher bunts with a runner on second unless a runner is also on first and you're trying to avoid a double play.
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I'm sure we've seen complaints both ways. http://forum.brewerfan.net/images/smilies/wink.gif

 

I do know that before the 2007 season, Ned said he'd be having his team bunt less than in the past. I don't know offhand if things actually worked out that way, though.

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One thing I really like about Yost is that he doesn't like to give outs away with sac bunts & hit-&-runs (a la his counterpart Piniella) very often at all. Imo Ned values his offensive outs quite appropriately most times, and probably is better than most MLB managers in this regard.
Stearns Brewing Co.: Sustainability from farm to plate
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apparently, few hitters these days can adjust their hitting from AB to AB. I think they are getting coached to have repeatable strokes, and just don't have the ability to alter their approach.

 

If so then how come we hear them say it's great for Billy's stroke when he starts going to RF. JJ has to go the opposite way instead of just pulling the ball. Prince is just not a power hitter since he goes to all fields. All good hitters should be able to go the opposite way on outside pitches, if not they will be two hopping to the SS too many times. Carlos Lee was trying to teach Prince that at two strikes you have to do whatever you can to get the guy in. It's a mindset not yet learned by all these players and at times that is why they will struggle.
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rluzinski wrote:

Despite Kapler's insanely good start, he should still be considered significantly below average hitter. Presuming a successful sacrifice, the odds of scoring at least 1 run does go up marginally against an average pitcher/defense.. not sure if that also applies against a pitcher like Santana. Is Kapler a good bunter? Doesn't look like he has very many sacrifices in his career, so I'd be tempted to say no.

I still don't think I would have called for it but there are far worse situations that you could call a sacrifice in.

I would say that against a pitcher like Santana you should wait and see a couple innings if he is on as all pitchers have off days. I really don't get to upset with sac bunting.

 

I have to say I really enjoy watching a player like Hart bunt for a hit then move to 3B without the hitter helping.

Fan is short for fanatic.

I blame Wang.

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I guess what I'm trying to say is that one run early in the game is 'worth' more V Santana and the few pitchers of his caliber then most others. Again, I agree with being judicious with outs: I'm trying to say that situations like Saturday might be where playing the % game might be outweighed by the quality of the opponent and the (possibly) perceived value of the run in question.

 

Spock would say there is a time where logic dictates an emotional response.

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It is worth more against him for sure, however the 1st inning is also the highest scoring inning on average in the game so I just cringe at playing small ball in that one. A lot of times pitchers take an inning to get in their groove, even Santana.

 

Santana has an .745 career OPS against in the 1st inning which is the highest of any inning 1-8 and is significantly worse than his career .644 against overall.

 

Last year all of baseball had an .790 OPS against in the 1st inning compared to an .758 overall, the worst inning overall is the 6th with an .801.

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