#Hurdled is a popular hash tag within the Pittsburgh Pirates Twitter community. It “trends” after virtually every Pirates’ sacrifice bunt attempt. Most in the community are under the impression that Clint Hurdle utilizes the tactic at a disproportionately high rate, especially when compared to the rest of the league. In this post, I put that notion to the test. Below, I present the percentage of non-pitcher sacrifice bunt attempts by all National League teams (through 5/9/12) in both high leverage and all leverage situations.
This post is not about whether or not (and when) sacrifice bunts attempts are the correct tactic. In fact, I’m probably more liberal when it comes to the sacrifice bunt than most. If you want to read more about how to properly quantify and evaluate sacrifices, you should read Matt Bandi’s instructive post (here) over at Pirates Prospects.
Using baseballrefence.com, I calculated the rate at which National League teams have attempted sacrifice bunts attempts in both of the following situations:
- High leverage (basically high-pressure, important moments of a game); runner on any base; non-pitcher plate appearances.
- Any leverage; runner on first; non-pitcher plate appearances.
Sacrifice Bunt Attempt Rates in High Leverage/Any base/Non-Pitcher PAs
Sacrifice Bunt Attempt Rates in Any Leverage/Runner on 1st/Non-Pitchers PAs
The Pirates’ Twitter community is correct; the Pirates do employ the sacrifice bunt tactic more than league average. In fact, they employ it at a higher rate than any NL team. The Diamondbacks and the Braves, on the other hand, are least likely attempt sacrifices.
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Finally you might be enjoy an ongoing project I’m working on that looks at the positional history of the Pirates via the WAR statistic. Here is the latest post on Pirates’ first basemen – “War of Positions: Pirates’ First Basemen”