A Baseball Weblog

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Gardner's bunts

There's been some talk recently on the Twittersphere and the webbernets about Brett Gardner's bunting.  He has attempted to bunt ten times this year and has yet to get a hit.  Over the course of his career, he hasn't been terrible, but he hasn't been great.  Consider Gardner's 2008-2011 numbers against some league averages:

Brett Gardner.530.205.386.409.333
League Average.502.184.520.286.392

Fair% is fair bunts per total bunt attempts; hit% is bunt hits per fair bunts; sac% is sacrifice bunts per fair bunts; out% is bunt outs per fair bunts; average is bunt hits per non-sacrifice bunt.  League averages are from 2008-2010 (I should update those soon).  

Gardner's about average at getting the bunt fair, but once it's in play, he's more prone to being thrown out at first base than the average bunter.  What is Gardner doing this year?


I don't want to look too seriously at a ten-pitch sample; Gardner has hit it fair more, but hasn't had much success with the bunt in play.  Gardner's four bunt-outs this year include a bunt pop-up to first and two fielder's-choice outs that allowed the runner to be thrown out at third base.

Overall, I'm not in favor of Gardner bunting so much.  Despite his great speed, he can't bunt for a very high average, and due to his unspectacular rate of fair bunts, he can't be relied on for a sacrifice (which probably shouldn't be used much anyway).  Joe Girardi recently acknowledged Gardner's bunting struggles, saying that "the only way to get better at it is to do it."  That may be true, but I'd much prefer to see Gardner use his excellent on-base skills than waste an opportunity trying to lay down a bunt.

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