While 2014 continued the overall decline in power of recent seasons, it was something of a renaissance for bunting. In particular, Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon took advantage of their first full seasons of major league playing time to attempt 43 and 40 bunt hits, respectively. With their speed, that approach makes a lot of sense, and their .349 and .500 batting averages on those attempts demonstrates its effectiveness. However, both players fell short of the top 10 bunters based on batting average.
We give the Flat Bat Award every season to recognize the best bunter taking into consideration his bunts for hits and sacrifice bunts. Here are the batting average leaders on bunt-for-hit attempts with a minimum of 10 attempts:
|2014 Bunt Hit Leaders|
|Name||Bunt Hit Results||Batting Average|
|Carlos Gomez, MIL||8 out of 11||.727|
|Denard Span, WAS||8 out of 11||.727|
|Jarrod Dyson, KC||9 out of 13||.692|
|Jean Segura, MIL||8 out of 12||.667|
|Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE-WAS||8 out of 12||.667|
|Brandon Guyer, TB||7 out of 11||.636|
|Alejandro De Aza, CWS-BAL||7 out of 11||.636|
|Leonys Martin, TEX||17 out of 27||.630|
|Erick Aybar, LAA||10 out of 16||.625|
|Junior Lake, CHC||6 out of 10||.600|
You can make a compelling case that Dee Gordon’s 20-for-40 was more valuable to the Dodgers than Carlos Gomez’s and Denard Span’s 8 of 11 on bunt-for-hit attempts, but there is one bunter who renders that debate unnecessary. That is 2013 Flat Bat Award winner Leonys Martin. Martin secured 17 bunt hits on 27 attempts, which is just three hits fewer than Gordon in 13 fewer attempts.
Next, here are the most successful sacrifice bunters with a minimum of 10 attempts:
|2014 Sacrifice Bunt Leaders|
|Name||Sacrifice Bunt Results||Percentage|
|Jean Segura, MIL||10 out of 10||100%|
|Brett Gardner, NYY||13 out of 14||93%|
|Shelby Miller, STL||13 out of 14||93%|
|Zack Wheeler, NYM||12 out of 13||92%|
|Mike Aviles, CLE||11 out of 12||92%|
|Tanner Roark, WAS||11 out of 12||92%|
|Aaron Harang, ATL||9 out of 10||90%|
|Stephen Strasburg, WAS||9 out of 10||90%|
|Doug Fister, WAS||9 out of 10||90%|
|Jose Ramirez, CLE||13 out of 15||87%|
|Johnny Cueto, CIN||12 out of 14||86%|
There is not much overlap with the two lists as most of the best sacrifice bunters from 2014 were pitchers. The one player who is on both lists, Jean Segura, happens to be the only player with 10 or more sacrifice attempts and a 100 percent success rate on those attempts.
As efficient as Segura was as both a sacrifice bunter and a bunt hitter, his eight bunt hits are fewer than half of Martin’s total. Meanwhile, Martin fell short of the sacrifice bunt leaderboard, but he did succeed on 7 of his 10 sacrifice attempts. His bunt-for-hit prowess is more than enough to bridge that gap, and that’s why Leonys Martin wins his second consecutive Flat Bat Award.
Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.