Let’s face it, the bunt gets a bad rap these days, especially the sacrifice bunt. We’re in an era where some form of analytics plays a roll in every front office, and air-ball revolutionaries roam the dugouts; nobody on the periphery of either movement is espousing the virtues of the bunt. Shoot, there are multiple varieties of shirts available for anyone who wants to flaunt their anti-bunt lifestyle.

I’ll concede that the pure sacrifice bunt is often a bad play, the kind where you’re telegraphing the bunt early, where the defense is anticipating it, and where there’s little chance of anything good happening beyond moving a runner up a base in exchange for an out. When getting one run is super important, and maybe the batter isn’t so hot, this can be a good play. Often, though, both the run and win expectancy will drop if you pull off a “successful” sacrifice bunt in this scenario.

Take a look at Franchy Cordero‘s bunt from last night, though. To set the scene: the Padres are up one in the seventh, with Cory Spangenberg on first and one out. Forgetting the tank here, a run is important but not necessarily critical in the context of trying to win the game.

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On the second pitch of the 2013 season, Everth Cabrera laid down a sacrifice bunt. As I once lamented at the old blog, “if your #2 hitter lays down a sacrifice bunt in the first inning… then you probably need to find another #2 hitter.”

The culprit in that case was Luis Rodríguez, but the point remains. Why give away an out so early in the game in the hope of scoring a single run? The fact that the Padres didn’t score after Cabrera’s bunt and ended up losing, 11-2, makes it look ridiculous, but regardless of outcome, this is a poor tactic.

I’m not the only person who doesn’t like to see the second-place hitter bunt. No less an authority than Bill James called out the Padres skipper for such behavior:

I’ve got a lot of respect for Dick Williams, but I don’t understand bunting with your #2 hitter.

Granted, that was in the Alan Wiggins comment of the 1984 Baseball Abstract, but still. Oh wait, you thought I was going to complain about Bud Black? Funny thing about that. He hasn’t been as egregious in his deployment of this tactic as you might have guessed. Read More…