Should MLB get rid of the sacrifice bunt? | The Tylt
Should MLB get rid of the sacrifice bunt?
The sacrifice bunt is a staple of "small ball" baseball, a strategy that prioritizes putting runners on base and moving them base-to-base rather than letting players swing for the fences. There is something rather poetic about the sacrifice bunt—falling on a metaphorical sword to allow your teammates to advance for the good of the group.
However, analytics have caught up with gut instinct, and the math doesn't add up. Not only does it not result in many more runs, sacrifice bunting actually cuts down on scoring opportunities. The play itself is kind of cheap, and it doesn't add any excitement to the game.
If you want to win, giving the opposition a free out isn't going to cut it. Teams that sacrifice an out to advance a runner do not increase their chances of scoring, and in turn, doesn't help win games.
According to Keith Law in 2015, with a man on first base and no outs, an MLB team's probability of scoring at least one run in the inning was 0.499, or roughly 50-50. Sacrificing a runner up to second for an out reduced those odds to 0.447, or just under 45 percent. Not only does the bunt reduce the number of runs the team could expect to score from 0.84 to 0.65 in any given inning, but it reduces the team's odds of scoring any runs at all.
Baseball needs to kill the sacrifice bunt and let baseball players be baseball players.
People who want to get rid of the sacrifice bunt are short-sighted. The problem with bunt stats is they do not take into account very specific game time decisions like historical matchup data, on-base speed, etc. Sacrifice bunts have a place in the game, and they should not be eliminated entirely. There are still situations where the sacrifice is the right play.
In an era where everyone is concerned with individual stats, the sac bunt remains of the few grand traditions left from our baseball elders. Giving yourself up for the good of the team is a lesson that needs to be taught, and the sacrifice bunt is the perfect embodiment of that lesson. Getting rid of it altogether seems draconian. Keep the tradition alive.