Are Sacrifice Bunts Less Offensive Now That Scoring Has Dipped?

Recently, I linked to a FanGraphs article about how stolen bases now matter more and why the break-even point is dropping. In the comments section of that article, a user named “Joshua” asked a question I found interesting.

Joshua says:
November 30, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Interesting. What would this do to run expectancy tables and bunting? Is the 1st to 2nd sac bunt now less offensive than before?

I’m sure somebody out there smarter than me has tackled this before, but I had not personally seen this addressed yet, so I thought I would take a look at it.

The FanGraphs article analyzed stolen bases from 2007 to 2012, so I looked at those years as well.


Run Expectation


Runner On First/Nobody Out: 0.8577
Runner On Second/One Out: 0.6551
Sacrifice Bunt Difference: -0.2026


Runner On First/Nobody Out: 0.8500
Runner On Second/One Out: 0.6492
Sacrifice Bunt Difference: -0.2008


Runner On First/Nobody Out: 0.8666
Runner On Second/One Out: 0.6586
Sacrifice Bunt Difference: -0.2080


Runner On First/Nobody Out: 0.8957
Runner On Second/One Out: 0.6827
Sacrifice Bunt Difference: -0.2130


Runner On First/Nobody Out: 0.9037
Runner On Second/One Out: 0.6891
Sacrifice Bunt Difference: -0.2146


Runner On First/Nobody Out: 0.9284
Runner On Second/One Out: 0.7077
Sacrifice Bunt Difference: -0.2207


So is it less offensive? Absolutely.

Still mockable and dumb? Yeah.

Outs are always at a premium over advancing one base. There are certain contexts and situations where it makes sense to bunt a player over, but a great majority of the time, it’s still a move that goes against The Book.

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