This is the One Hitter, just a quick thought or two about a topic from your friends at the 108…..remember, don’t forget to exhale.
I was going to write in this space about the ills of Bunting and how Bunting is generally a negative expectancy play overall. I was going to write how Ricky Renteria seems to embrace data, manage his bullpen effectively and make a lot of clever moves overall except for all the Bunting that we are seeing. Then I realized something. What if the decrease in Bunting in MLB at large over the last several decades has allowed the White Sox to find a market inefficiency in how teams defend AGAINST the Bunt. That’s right. What if because there aren’t a lot of teams Bunting anymore that the data shows that teams don’t defend the Bunt well anymore. Think about it. Everyone stopped sacrifice Bunting and when was the last time you can think of someone getting Brett Butler level bunt singles in a season? It would make sense that because teams get a lot less reps defending against the Bunt that they would theoretically make more mistakes. It is possible that certain teams with certain weak defenders at certain positions would be more apt to make mistakes versus a bunt. Now, it still appears that most White Sox players asked to Bunt still don’t really have a good handle on actually executing it, but that is a discussion for another time. Before I start leaning that Ricky Renteria is doing something antiquated, maybe he’s doing something that is newly expected to be very effective.
In any of these situations where we read about inefficiencies in the game or strategy changes, the teams are always WAY ahead of the stat heads scribes. Look at the “pitch framing” discussion. The inefficiency was pretty much completely dead by the time the fans (us) were even reading about it. As much as I love the stat heads and their ability to put together after the fact narratives, the teams are studying just about every goddamn thing under the sun to try to find an advantage. Maybe this is one them. Who knows?