Does a sacrifice bunt have any value?

May 4, 2005
The simple answer is yes, but only in the most limited situations.

Let's look at the most common situation to sacrifice: a man on first with nobody out. The probability of scoring a run is about 40%. If you can successfully sacrifice the runner to second to create a situation with a man on second with one out, your chances of scoring remain in the 40% range. No improvement.

On top of that, you will score less runs in the long run by bunting in this situation. With a man on first and no outs, the expected number of runs per inning is about .9 runs. With a man on second and one out, the expected number of runs is about .7. For every ten times that you bunt in this situation, you lose about two runs. That's significant.

In summary, bunting with an extremely week hitter, like the pitcher in the National League, makes sense. It's clearly better to have a man on second with one out than a man on first with one out. But bunting with a man on first and no one out with an average or better hitter is a waste of your most valuable resource: outs.
 
 

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