The Flat Bat Award 2012

October 24, 2012
 

With the regular season behind us, it is time once again to hand out the Flat Bat Award for the best bunter in baseball in 2012. In 2011, Emilio Bonifacio beat out the two-time defending champion Erick Aybar. However, Bonifacio only played in 64 games this season because of a series of injuries. Will it be Aybar who reclaims the title or someone else?

To decide, we will first look at which players were most successful on bunt hit attempts. These players had the best batting averages on bunt hit attempts with a minimum of 10 attempts:

2012 Bunt Hit Leaders
Name Bunt Hit Results Batting Average
Alcides Escobar, KC 11 out of 13 .846
Denard Span, Min 8 out of 10 .800
Alejandro De Aza, CWS 8 out of 11 .727
Emilio Bonifacio, Mia 9 out of 13 .692
Will Venable, SD 8 out of 12 .667
Danny Espinosa, Was 6 out of 10 .600
Ben Revere, Min 9 out of 16 .563
Erick Aybar, LAA 15 out of 27 .556
Juan Pierre, Phi 10 out of 18 .556
Jose Reyes, Mia 8 out of 15 .533

 

Erick Aybar set the pace for bunt hits with 15, which were four more than Alcides Escobar, the nearest bunter to him. However, Aybar also attempted 27 bunt hits, which were far and away the most in baseball. The result was a .556 average on bunt hit attempts, which is excellent but still well behind the leaders. Escobar led baseball with a .846 average, and Denard Span and Alejandro De Aza were close behind.

Next, we will consider the most successful sacrifice bunters with a minimum of 10 attempts:

2012 Sacrifice Bunt Leaders
Name Sacrifice Hit Results Percentage
Elvis Andrus, Tex 17 for 17 100%
Clayton Kershaw, LAD 14 for 14 100%
Chris Capuano, LAD 13 for 13 100%
Marco Scutaro, 2 Tms 10 for 10 100%
Juan Pierre, Phi 17 for 18 94%
Johnny Cueto, Cin 17 for 18 94%
Bobby Wilson, LAA 13 for 14 93%
R.A. Dickey, NYM 10 for 11 91%
Barry Zito, SF 10 for 11 91%
Ian Kennedy, Ari 10 for 11 91%

 

Elvis Andrus was an impressive 17 for 17 in sacrifice bunt attempts. He led the American League in sacrifices and did not fail once. Juan Pierre and Johnny Cueto put down 17 successful sacrifices in the National League. Each had just one failed attempt.

Pierre is the one player who appeared on both lists. He bunted 36 times, which was the most in baseball. That is nothing new for Pierre, who led baseball with an incredible 61 total bunt attempts in 2011. The major change for Pierre was with his success rate. A year ago, Pierre batted .438 on his bunt hit attempts and had an 86 percent success rate on sacrifice bunt attempts. This year, Pierre increased his average to .556 on bunt hit attempts and his success rate on sacrifice attempts to 94 percent.

With those improvements, we were tempted to call Pierre the winner. However, Pierre’s edge comes from his sacrifice bunts, which are not nearly as valuable as bunts for hits. In aggregate, players were successful in their sacrifice attempts 85 percent of the time in 2012. Pierre attempted a sacrifice 18 times and was successful 17 of them. In a similar number of attempts, an average bunter would have succeeded between 15 and 16 times. The difference in their run expectancies is only a third of a run.

In contrast, even with his high volume of bunt-for-hit attempts, Erick Aybar had four more successes than anyone else (five more than Pierre), and those successes each create nearly half a run in value, on average. Despite the fewer sacrifice attempts and the more-frequent failed bunt-for-hit attempts, Aybar still outpaced the field by two runs of expected value. That is why Erick Aybar is the 2012 Flat Bat Award winner.

 
 

COMMENTS (1 Comment)

jemanji
Good stuff. Thanks. :- )

Every year these leaderboards are filled with players who bunted .600, .700, .800 for base hits. Does anybody know whether it would be possible for some player to choose to bunt 30-for-55 some year?

Or are players limited to 10, 15 attempts per season because otherwise, the corner infielders would come way in? If so, wouldn't that be to the advantage of the offense?

Would like to know whether bunting-for-1B's is underutilized.​
5:52 PM Oct 25th
 
 
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