A Baseball Weblog

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

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. 



Hit%Out%Sac%Double Play%


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. 

1Willy Taveras1625.118
2Carlos Gomez2178.114
3Julio Borbon1049.104
4Emilio Bonifacio1666.093
5Erick Aybar2420.092
6Nyjer Morgan2181.091
7Juan Pierre2386.086
8Gregor Blanco1293.081
9Alexi Casilla1290.078
10Luis Castillo1652.076
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. 

RankNameAttemptsFair Bunt%
1Ramon Santiago65.769
2Joey Gathright78.692
3David Eckstein78.679
4Clayton Kershaw62.677
5Zach Duke64.672
6Scott Podsednik68.662
7Cole Hamels53.660
8Franklin Gutierrez51.627
9Ryan Dempster80.625
10Elvis Andrus103.621

1xChris Young51.157
2xRajai Davis78.295
3xCorey Hart69.333
4xOmar Infante55.364
5xMelky Cabrera65.369
6xB.J. Upton73.370
7xEmilio Bonifacio155.381
8xEmmanuel Burriss70.386
9xBrendan Ryan75.387
10xTed Lilly66.394

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

RankNameFair BuntsHit%
1Ichiro Suzuki37.568
2Lastings Milledge25.480
3Jacoby Ellsbury38.474
4Gregor Blanco60.450
5Angel Pagan36.444
6Jose Reyes40.425
7Rafael Furcal48.417
8Alexi Casilla60.417
9Michael Bourn99.404
10Carlos Gomez117.385

RankNameFair BuntsOut%
1Josh Anderson26.615
2Emilio Bonifacio59.525
3Joey Gathright54.519
4Juan Pierre107.505
5Tony Gwynn39.487
6Rafael Furcal48.479
7Carlos Gomez117.479
8Emmanuel Burriss27.444
9Nyjer Morgan100.440
10Willy Taveras107.439

RankNameFair BuntsSac%
1Braden Looper25.960
2Jamie Moyer29.931
3Ricky Nolasco28.893
4Roy Oswalt34.882
5Hiroki Kuroda30.867
6Barry Zito35.857
7Ryan Dempster50.840
8Clayton Kershaw42.833
9Livan Hernandez28.821
10Derek Lowe37.811

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:

RankNameBunt Runs
1Ichiro Suzuki5.41
2Alexi Casilla4.67
3Gregor Blanco4.32
4Jacoby Ellsbury3.87
5Angel Pagan3.77
6Michael Bourn2.70
7Rafael Furcal2.16
8Erick Aybar1.98
9Cliff Pennington1.94
10Gerald Laird1.84

1xJuan Pierre-9.54
2xRyan Dempster-6.57
3xUbaldo Jimenez-6.42
4xBronson Arroyo-6.08
5xZach Duke-5.88
6xMike Pelfrey-5.69
7xTed Lilly-5.54
8xDerek Lowe-5.44
9xOrlando Hudson-5.35
10xChad Billingsley-5.00

RankNameBunt Runs / 100
1Ichiro Suzuki9.97
2Angel Pagan8.99
3Jacoby Ellsbury8.31
4Alexi Casilla8.19
5Gregor Blanco7.65
6Cliff Pennington6.26
7Rafael Furcal6.07
8Coco Crisp5.78
9Gerald Laird5.67
10Jose Reyes5.37

1xMike Pelfrey-7.00
2xJeff Suppan-6.33
3xUbaldo Jimenez-6.20
4xZach Duke-5.66
5xDerek Lowe-5.54
6xTed Lilly-4.87
7xJair Jurrjens-4.86
8xCole Hamels-4.70
9xRyan Dempster-4.69
10xClayton 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.     

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