Intro and Part 1
This study was inspired by the combination of one spring day during high school baseball where I was asked to sacrifice bunt four times in one game and the ignorable increasing trend of sacrifice bunting in college. I was successful in advancing the runner each time I bunted that day, however, I do not remember if that led to successful run scoring innings. There is a 29.31% increase in sacrifice bunting this season compared to 2010. College programs are sacrificing more today than ever. As much as Bill James disagrees, college teams must believe that sacrificing an out to advance the runner, via a sacrifice bunt, can lead to more runs and can makeup for the loss of offense since the change in the metal bats.
In this study, we will see if there is a relationship between more sacrifice bunts and a more productive offense. We will examine this relationship by using data provided by the NCAA. We will use every collegiate baseball conference’s total runs compared to total sacrifice bunts to encompass every team. Additionally, we will examine the production versus sacrificing for the top 120 offenses in college baseball.
College baseball teams believe that if they advance runners on the bases by sacrificing an out with a bunt then they will score more runs.
Part 1: The Simple Facts
With the beginning of the NCAA Baseball Tournament, a different brand of baseball is put at the forefront of the game. Although the level of play is inferior to the pros, the quirks and differences of the levels can amuse even a slight fan. However, the differences have only developed due to a drastic change in the game made just three years ago. No more can fully grown 21 year olds blast 40 home runs a season, and no longer can teams average seven runs per game. The reason for this evolution of the game is the change in the types of metal bats. The new BBCOR bats have much less pop and whip and are designed to perform more like wood bats. Not only does this protect the players, mainly the pitchers, but it has also shrunk the game.
Take a look at these stats comparing the 2010 season to the 2014 season:
|—||2010 Season||2014 Season||Percent Change|
|Batting Average||.305||.270||11.48% decrease|
|Runs Per Game||7.0||5.1||27.14% decrease|
|Home Runs Per Game||.93||.39||58.06% decrease|
|Sac Bunts Per Game||.58||.75||29.31% increase|
Obviously, there is a relationship between the change in the bats and the decrease in offensive production. College games used to average nearly one home run per game. Now fans enter the ballpark with less than a 40% chance to see a big fly. This drop off in productivity has forced programs to alter their style. Therefore, in order to make up for the missing pop, managers have become increasingly more involved in the game. Similar to down n’ dirty National League “small ball”, the college game now forces teams to sacrifice bunt nearly 30% more frequently than four years ago, with the more powerful bats.