The One Hitter – Ricky Bunteria
This is the One-Hitter…don’t forget to exhale
The big homey WhiteSoxSal implored me to write some positive virtual ink on our guy Ricky Renteria. FULL DISCLOSURE: I had 1,500 words or so that I had written during the summer on the White Sox fearless leader that I killed. The reason I killed it as it drifted too far into what I like to call “taking the fun out of it”, that’s right, as boring as my writing is, there are levels that are worse. Anywho, one of the BIG…..BIG problems that people have with Ricky Renteria, other than his lineups (which, meh), other than his bullpen management (which I happen to actually think is pretty good) and other than his admitting to not using the data 100% (this is a game theory problem….remember, if our manager has the data, don’t you think the Astros manager has the same data on our guys? They have enough cameras out there to give public colonoscopies to every fan in the stadium, I think they know Left / Right splits vs Breaking Balls. Is it good to have every move you make telegraphed?) is that he BUNTS TOO MUCH!!!
This is something I agree with 100%. I don’t like my manager calling for gobs and gobs of sacrifice bunts. The White Sox were 2nd in the AL in Sac Bunts (“converted!!!” As Pnoles likes to say, “that doesn’t include all the ones they tried and failed“….yes, I know) behind the Cleveland Baseball Team. I found this peculiar as Terry Francona is pretty much known as an excellent manager, how could he be so (supposedly) stupid as our manager.
One thing I thought about when pondering the question of bunting too goddamn much was how much Ricky actually bunted with the few quality major league hitters the White Sox had on the roster. That group imo, was Moncada, Anderson, Jimenez and Abreu……this group converted a total of 1 sacrifice bunt. JUST ONE! (That was Moncada’s sac bunt in the 1st inning of a May 24th game against the Twins with Jose Berrios on the hill and Chuckles Tilson miraculously reaching base via HBP) . Now that doesn’t sound too astounding for Eloy and Abreu, but Moncada and Anderson both have high end speed and Ricky is basically never asking them to bunt. Hmmmm. While that’s a very good thing, it’s also weird considering our manager is an old school bunting type manager that still uses floppy discs.
Maybe there’s another reason. I like running numbers. Do you know what the weighted OPS+ (removing pitchers) of the White Sox bunters was in 2019? (OPS+ just re-adjusts offensive production pegging 100 as league average to make it easier to measure against everyone else)
Yep, the White Sox (via weighted average), preferred their bunting to be done by hitters roughly 21% below league average. Now, the White Sox bunted a lot more than these other teams, but I took a quick sample of some of the “SMART” teams to see what their weighted average OPS+ for Sacrifice Bunts were…
Astros – 94
Rays – 89
Twins – 110 (whoa, who is in charge of this, Fredo Corleone?)
HELLO!! You mean to tell me that the smart teams on average bunt with much better hitters than the White Sox do? I know, some smart ass is going to come in here and say “This is datamining bullshit Beef, of course better teams bunt with better hitters, on average.” That’s true, its more likely to occur, but did you ever think just having better hitters on average would drive teams to bunt a lot less?
Lastly, let’s look at the Cleveland Baseball Team, who actually bunted more than the White Sox in 2019. What was their weighted average OPS+ for bunters?
I wonder if the thing we are so worried about won’t even be a concern at all when the White Sox lineup is filled with major league hitters???