Archive for the ‘Stat of the Week’ Category

The 2011 Fielding Bible Awards

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

THE 2011 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS have been officially announced.  Albert Pujols reclaims the Award at first base that had been his every year since the Fielding Bible Awards began in 2006 until Daric Barton snatched it away last year.

Joining Pujols as repeat winners are Mark Buehrle (his third consecutive), Troy Tulowitzki (his third, and second in a row), Adrian Beltre (his third also), and Brett Gardner (second in a row). First time winners are Dustin Pedroia, Austin Jackson, Justin Upton, and Matt Wieters.

A panel of ten analysts, listed below—including John Dewan, Peter Gammons, and Bill James—examined the 2011 seasons of every defensive player in Major League Baseball and then used the same voting technique as the Major League Baseball MVP voting. First place votes received 10 points, second place 9 points, third place 8 points, etc. A perfect score was 100. A complete record of their votes can be found in The Bill James Handbook 2012.

One important distinction that differentiates THE FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS from most other baseball awards, such as the Gold Gloves, is that there is only one winner at each position instead of separate winners for each league.  The goal of THE FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS is to stand up and say: “Here is the best fielder at this position in Major League Baseball last season.” Another key feature of the system is that it also recognizes the runners-up for each position, instead of just focusing on the winners.

Here are the results of THE 2011 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS:

FIRST BASE—ALBERT PUJOLS, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (82 POINTS)
Winning his fifth Fielding Bible Award wasn’t easy for Pujols, as he only edged out Adrian Gonzalez by 4 points, 82 to 78, in the closest race of any of the awards.

SECOND BASE—DUSTIN PEDROIA, BOSTON RED SOX (97 POINTS)
Despite already having a Gold Glove to his name and doing well in the voting in previous years, a Fielding Bible Award had eluded Pedroia until now.  He was selected overwhelmingly this year, coming in 21 points better than runner-up Ben Zobrist.

THIRD BASE—ADRIAN BELTRE, TEXAS RANGERS (98 POINTS)
Beltre won this year’s Fielding Bible Award pretty convincingly with 98 points out of a possible 100.  However, last year’s winner, Evan Longoria, didn’t go down without a fight, garnering 90 points himself.  No second place finisher at any other position had more than 78.

SHORTSTOP—TROY TULOWITZKI, COLORADO ROCKIES (94 POINTS)
Tulowitzki signed a huge contract extension last offseason.  Clearly the Rockies wanted to make Tulo the rock of their defense for years to come, as this is the third time he has been honored with a Fielding Bible Award as the best defender at one of the most critical positions on the field.

LEFT FIELD—BRETT GARDNER, NEW YORK YANKEES (99 POINTS)
Gardner has established himself as one of the elite outfielders in the game.  He saved an estimated 22 runs for his team this year, a total usually only seen amongst center fielders.  As a result, he was only one point shy of being a unanimous selection for The Fielding Bible Award in left field.

CENTER FIELD—AUSTIN JACKSON, DETROIT TIGERS (89 POINTS)
Jackson has rewarded the Tigers for clearing space to make him their starting center fielder.  His 22 Defensive Runs Saved led all center fielders, the second year in a row he has done that.

RIGHT FIELD—JUSTIN UPTON, ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (84 POINTS)
With a down year from three-time Fielding Bible Award winner Ichiro Suzuki, the door was opened for a new honoree.  Seven different players received first place votes, but Upton emerged from the pack as this year’s winner, excelling on deeply hit balls where he fielded 18 more balls in 2011 than the average right fielder would have.

CATCHER—MATT WIETERS, BALTIMORE ORIOLES (97 POINTS)
This year Wieters unseated the winner of the last four Fielding Bible Award winners at catcher, Yadier Molina.  Wieters led all catchers with 14 Runs Saved, and garnered 97 points as the overwhelming choice for this year’s award.

PITCHER—MARK BUEHRLE, CHICAGO WHITE SOX (90 POINTS)
Buehrle again won this award handily. Runner up R.A. Dickey only had 61 points. This is Buehrle’s third straight Fielding Bible Award, as he continues to field his position very well and is a master of controlling the running game. Only three of ten would-be base-stealers were successful against him, and he picked off two additional baserunners.

The Panel

1. Bill James is a baseball writer and analyst and the Senior Baseball Operations Advisor for the Boston Red Sox;

2. The BIS Video Scouts at Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) study every game of the season, multiple times, charting a huge list of valuable game details;
3. The man who created Strat-O-Matic Baseball—Hal Richman;

4. Named the best sports columnist in America by the AP Sports Editors, Joe Posnanski is a Senior Writer at Sports Illustrated and occasional columnist for the Kansas City Star;
5. For over twenty years, BIS owner John Dewan has collected, published and analyzed in-depth baseball statistics and is the author of The Fielding Bible and The Fielding Bible—Volume II;

6. Doug Glanville played nine seasons in Major League Baseball and was well known for his excellent outfield defense.  Currently, he is a baseball analyst at ESPN, primarily on Baseball Tonight, ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine.;

7. Hall-of-Famer Peter Gammons serves as on-air and online analyst for MLB Network, MLB.com, and NESN (New England Sports Network);

8. After nearly fifteen years with ESPN.com, Rob Neyer joined SB Nation as National Baseball Editor in 2011.  He has written six books about baseball. ;

9. Todd Radcliffe is Lead Video Scout at Baseball Info Solutions;

10. The Tom Tango Fan Poll represents the results of a poll taken at the website, Tango on Baseball (www.tangotiger.net).  Besides hosting the website, Tom writes research articles devoted to sabermetrics.;

The three tie-breakers are Steve Moyer, President of BIS, Dan Casey, veteran Video Scout at BIS, and Dave Studenmund, one of the owners of www.hardballtimes.com and the editor of The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.

Complete results and voting on THE 2011 FIELDING BIBLE AWARDS are presented in The Bill James Handbook 2012, published on or before November 1 every year. For more information on The Fielding Bible Awards, visit www.fieldingbible.com

“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.”

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Stat of the Week: A New Pitching Stat

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

Last week, we evaluated the definition of a Quality Start and concluded that, while still useful, it is seriously flawed.  This week, we’re going to introduce an alternative: Gem.

In the baseball vernacular, broadcasters and writers use the term “Gem” regularly to describe a pitching masterpiece: “Felix Hernandez pitched a gem last night in the Mariners’ 2-1 victory over the Tigers.”  Bill James took that term and gave it a definition.  The end result is an improvement on Quality Start and a way to highlight the best pitching performances.

A Gem is a game in which the starting pitcher earns a Game Score of at least 65 or throws six or more innings of shutout baseball.  For the mathematically inclined, we’ll go over the definition of Game Score at the end of the Stat of the Week, but first let’s show some examples of what a 65 looks like.  Shaun Marcum earned a Game Score of exactly 65 in his start last Tuesday against the Mets.  He went 6.0 innings, struck out one and allowed two hits, no earned runs, and four walks.  Kyle Kendrick’s start against the Braves on May 7 also earned a Game Score of exactly 65.  He threw 5.0 innings, struck out three and allowed two hits, no earned runs and one walk.  Both of those games qualify as gems, albeit at the lowest end of the Game Score spectrum.

On the higher end of the spectrum is Justin Verlander’s no-hitter earlier this year.  On May 7 against the Blue Jays, he went the distance with no hits, no runs, a walk and four strikeouts.  His performance earned a game score of 90, but that was not the top pitching performance of 2011.  Here are the top Gems of the season:

Top Five Gems of the 2011 Season
Pitcher Date Opponent IP H ER BB

SO Game Score
James Shields 5/22 Marlins 9.0 3 0 1 13 93
Clayton Kershaw 5/29 Marlins 9.0 2 0 1 10 92
Cliff Lee 4/14 Nationals 9.0 3 0 1 12 92
Dan Haren 4/12 Indians 9.0 1 0 2 8 91
Ian Kennedy 4/25 Phillies 9.0 3 0 0 10 91

In a Major League season there are 2,420 games.  Over the last ten years there have been an average of over 2,300 Quality Starts per year.  That’s almost one per game. There are about 1,000 Gems per year.  Just under 50 percent of MLB games are a Gem.

Gems and Quality Starts – Last 10 Years
Through June 12, 2011
Quality Starts 22,438
Team Winning Percentage in a Quality Start .679
   
Gems 9,213
Team Winning Percentage in a Gem .815

Teams win two-thirds of the time when the pitcher has a Quality Start, but while there are fewer Gems, the winning percentage is much higher at .815.  As we saw last week, when a pitcher throws a Quality Start of eight innings or fewer with exactly three earned runs, the team winning percentage is only .500.  While there aren’t that many Gems with three earned runs, the winning percentage in the 164 games over the last ten years is .689.

The 2011 leaders in Quality Starts and Gems are:

Quality Start Leaders   Gem Leaders
Pitcher, Team Quality Starts   Pitcher, Team Gems
Justin Verlander, Tigers 13   Justin Verlander, Tigers 9
Jered Weaver, Angels 12   Shaun Marcum, Brewers 8
Roy Halladay, Phillies 12   Roy Halladay, Phillies 8
Cole Hamels, Phillies 11   Randy Wolf, Brewers 7
Dan Haren, Angels 11   Jered Weaver, Angels 7
Jair Jurrjens, Braves 11   Felix Hernandez, Mariners 7
James Shields, Rays 11   Cole Hamels, Phillies 7

For more on Gems, visit BillJamesOnline.com.

Below is the formula for Game Score, the foundation for Gems, and here is the link for the Wikipedia article on Game Score.

Start with 50.
Add 1 point for each out recorded by the starting pitcher.
Add 2 points for each inning the pitcher completes after the fourth inning.
Add 1 point for each strikeout.
Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed.
Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed.
Subtract 2 points for an unearned run.
Subtract 1 point for each walk.

The 12-point penalty for allowing three earned runs reduces the chance that a pitcher can reach a game score of 65, the benchmark for a gem.  As I said last week, only allowing three earned runs keeps the team in the game, but it is far from the quality suggested by the term Quality Stat.  Gems are a much better way of recognizing superb pitching performances.

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.”

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Stat of the Week – Quality Start Revisited

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

Back in October of 2004 I wrote a Stat of the Week article called “Is quality start really a quality stat?” I pointed out how a pitcher who has a quality start (6 innings or more with 3 earned runs allowed or less) wins about two-thirds of the time and that shows the “quality” of the stat.  Recently, ESPN baseball commentator Bruce Levine, whom I highly respect, has been talking about how much he hates the stat pointing to the same argument that’s always made about it: “If a guy pitches exactly six innings and allows three runs, that’s a 4.50 ERA.  What’s quality about that?”   My argument has been that this is simply a mediocre tree in the big beautiful forest that makes up the quality start statistic.

Well, I now take exception to myself.

In preparing to refute Mr. Levine’s position on the stat, we decided to look at the situation that he and everyone else points out, exactly six innings and exactly three earned runs.  It seemed to me that a starting pitcher who did this was keeping his team in the game and that this would generally lead to good results.  Over the last 10 years, there have been 2,118 games where a starting pitcher has gone exactly six innings and allowed three earned runs.  Pretty big sample size.  It turns out that the winning percentage in those games for that pitcher’s team is a little below .500.  Maybe you can still say he’s keeping his team in the game, but it’s hardly quality.

And I might be able to live with that as the mediocre tree in the forest, but there’s more.

What about if the pitcher goes seven innings and allows three earned runs?  What about eight innings?  To my great amazement, it turns out that if a starting pitcher pitches anywhere between six and eight innings and allows three earned runs, his team wins less than 50% of the time (5,039 games, 2,491 wins, .494 winning percentage).  Even right at eight innings and three earned runs, it’s below .500 (356 games, 171 wins, .480 winning percentage).

Here’s the complete chart:

Team Winning Percentages –
Starter Allows Three Earned Runs – Last Ten Years

Starter IP Team Record

Winning Percentage
6.0 1007-1111 .475
6.1 212-204 .510
6.2 231-167 .580
7.0 712-772 .480
7.1 91-62 .595
7.2 67-47 .588
8.0 171-185 .480
Total 2491-2548 .494
8.1 20-2 .909
8.2 9-6 .600
9.0 or more 44-8 .846

Another interesting part of this chart is this: when the pitcher records exactly 6, 7 or 8 innings, the winning percentage is below .500.  But when he extends into the next inning for at least one out, the percentage goes above .500.  I’ve been trying to figure out what this means.  I thought it might have to do with the difference between the leagues and pinch-hitting for the pitcher in the National League, but we didn’t see much when we looked at the data.  I am going to chalk it up to sample size issues (a lot less data where pitchers extend into the next inning) until I hear something better.   Suffice it to say, anytime a pitcher pitches eight innings or less and allows exactly three runs, the winning percentage is around .500. Maybe you can call it a “Kept-my-team-in-the-game Start”, but not a Quality Start.

In summary, while the quality start is still a useful statistic, it is seriously flawed.  A way to fix it would be to change it to six innings or more, two earned runs, or more than eight innings, and three earned runs.  That would be quality, but that’s also too complicated.  The better stat is a new one that Bill James invented called “Gems”.  More on that next week.

Side note: I want to give a big shout-out to my two excellent research assistants at Baseball Info Solutions, Ben Jedlovec and Rob Burckhard.  Without their fantastic research help, you’d see nothing but a lot of hot air and blank space in these articles.

“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.”

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Does it make sense to “waste” a pitch with an 0-2 count?

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

When a pitcher starts a batter off with two consecutive strikes, he’s clearly ahead in the count and has a range of options available. He can take the efficient route, again throwing the pitch in the strike zone and forcing the hitter to take a defensive swing or head back to the bench. Alternatively, he can “waste a pitch”, throwing it out of the strike zone and hoping that the hitter goes after it, either completing the strikeout or managing weak contact for an easy out.

Which is generally the better strategy?

We can consult the 24 States Matrix for the answer. The 24 States Matrix tells us how many runs, on average, we can expect a team to score from the current situation until the end of the inning. For example, with nobody on and zero outs, the average team last season scored .49 runs. If the first batter reaches base (now a runner on first with no outs), the “Run Expectancy” moves up to .86, based on the league’s average number of runs scored in those situations. We can credit the first play (whether it was a single, a walk, an error, etc.) for an increase of .86 – .49 = .37 runs.

We calculated the Run Expectancy change for each 0-2 count in MLB in 2010. Utilizing the 24 States Matrix, we found that a batter falling behind 0-2 knocks off .10 runs from the team’s run expectancy, almost as bad as sending your pitcher up to bat with a 0-0 count.

As it turns out, pitchers ahead 0-2 threw the next pitch outside the strike zone 72 percent of the time. The average change in Run Expectancy in those at bats remained exactly the same, -.10. On the other hand, if a pitcher challenged the hitter with an 0-2 pitch in the strike zone, the result was ever-so-slightly better for the hitter, at -.09.

Wasting a Pitch on 0-2

Location

Frequency

Average Run Value of the At Bat

Outside the Strike Zone

72%

-.10

Inside the Strike Zone

28%

-.09

Of course, pitchers handle an 0-2 count against Albert Pujols differently than against Ryan Theriot. But, the numbers indicate that pitchers should keep doing what they’re doing: keep wasting pitches, but throw it in the strike zone every so often just to keep them honest.

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.

When a pitcher starts a batter off with two consecutive strikes, he’s clearly ahead in the count and has a range of options available. He can take the efficient route, again throwing the pitch in the strike zone and forcing the hitter to take a defensive swing or head back to the bench. Alternatively, he can “waste a pitch”, throwing it out of the strike zone and hoping that the hitter goes after it, either completing the strikeout or managing weak contact for an easy out.

Which is generally the better strategy?

We can consult the 24 States Matrix for the answer. The 24 States Matrix tells us how many runs, on average, we can expect a team to score from the current situation until the end of the inning. For example, with nobody on and zero outs, the average team last season scored .49 runs. If the first batter reaches base (now a runner on first with no outs), the “Run Expectancy” moves up to .86, based on the league’s average number of runs scored in those situations. We can credit the first play (whether it was a single, a walk, an error, etc.) for an increase of .86 – .49 = .37 runs.

We calculated the Run Expectancy change for each 0-2 count in MLB in 2010. Utilizing the 24 States Matrix, we found that a batter falling behind 0-2 knocks off .10 runs from the team’s run expectancy, almost as bad as sending your pitcher up to bat with a 0-0 count.

As it turns out, pitchers ahead 0-2 threw the next pitch outside the strike zone 72 percent of the time. The average change in Run Expectancy in those at bats remained exactly the same, -.10. On the other hand, if a pitcher challenged the hitter with an 0-2 pitch in the strike zone, the result was ever-so-slightly better for the hitter, at -.09.

Wasting a Pitch on 0-2

Location

Frequency

Average Run Value of the At Bat

Outside the Strike Zone

72%

-.10

Inside the Strike Zone

28%

-.09

Of course, pitchers handle an 0-2 count against Albert Pujols differently than against Ryan Theriot. But, the numbers indicate that pitchers should keep doing what they’re doing: keep wasting pitches, but throw it in the strike zone every so often just to keep them honest.

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Stat of the Week: Best Defensive Teams So Far

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

The Indians, Royals, and Rangers feature the three best records in the American League. Not coincidentally, they also feature three of the top-rated defenses thus far in 2011.

The 2010 AL Champion Rangers are hardly a surprise considering the addition of former Fielding Bible Award winner Adrian Beltre, but the Royals were supposed to be battling for the AL Central cellar, not the division lead. Kansas City upgraded defensively this offseason with Jeff Francoeur and Alcides Escobar. Though it’s still April, the moves appear to be paying off.

The Colorado Rockies sit on top of the National League, both in Wins and in Runs Saved. Last year’s Fielding Bible Award winner at shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki, has done it all on both sides of the ball.

Here are the top defensive teams of the young season:

Best Defensive Teams- 2011
Team Runs Saved
Rangers 14
Rockies 10
Royals 9
Cardinals 7
Brewers/Orioles 6

The Mets and Phillies rate as the worst defensive teams thus far. Only Angel Pagan and Pedro Beato have positive Runs Saved totals at this point for the Mets, who have cost themselves an estimated 26 runs (over two wins!) just with poor defense so far this year. An aging infield of Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, and Wilson Valdez has struggled in the field, making Fielding Bible Award winner Chase Utley’s absence all the more conspicuous.

Worst Defensive Teams- 2011
Team Runs Saved
Mets -26
Phillies -18
Mariners -17
Diamondbacks -16
Cubs -14

“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.”

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Contender or Pretender? The Predictive Value of the First Ten Games of the Season

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Much has been made of the slow starts of the Red Sox and Rays, each losing the first six games of the 2011 season. The Rays, who finished with the best record in the American League last year, were expected to contend despite heavy offseason losses but have limped to a 2-8 start. The Red Sox, after trading for slugger Adrian Gonzalez and signing outfielder Carl Crawford, were heavy favorites in AL East heading into Opening Day but have started the season 2-8. Are these slow starts reason to panic?

We looked at the first ten games of the season for every team since 2002, specifically focusing on teams that won 90 or more games on the season and/or made the playoffs.

Performance in First Ten Games (2002-10)
Wins in First 10 Teams Finished 90+ Wins Pct of Total Made Playoffs Pct of Total
0-3 39 1 3% 3 8%
4 62 13 21% 13 21%
5 69 18 26% 21 30%
6 59 19 32% 18 31%
7-10 41 19 46% 17 41%

It’s clear from the chart that there is some correlation between a team’s first 10 games and the rest of the season. Out of the 39 teams that won three or fewer of their first ten games, only the 2002 Angels finished the season with 90 or more wins. (After starting the season 3-7, that Angels team won 99 games and the World Series!) Two others (the 2006 Padres and the 2007 Phillies) managed to make the playoffs despite slow starts. Though it wouldn’t be an unprecedented comeback, the Red Sox and Rays have a lot of work to do to catch up to preseason expectations.

On the flip side, the Rangers are off to a 9-1 start in their quest to defend their American League Pennant. Of the 41 teams in our sample who won at least seven of their first ten games, 17 (41 percent) have made the playoffs. They’re far from a lock to make the playoffs at this point in the season, but they’re off to a great start.

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.

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Is the Greek God of Walks Still Patient?

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

We’ve spent some time recently previewing the Bill James Baseball IQ app for the iPhone and iPad, featuring the K Zone and Pitch Location charts in recent Stats of the Week. In honor of its public release, we’ll take a look at another feature the Baseball IQ app offers: the Batter Comparison tool.

Kevin Youkilis gained noteriety in Michael Lewis’s book Moneyball as a Red Sox prospect with a penchant for drawing walks. Over his seven-year career Youkilis, dubbed the “Greek God of Walks”, has walked in 12.5 percent of his plate appearances, not quite a league-leading rate but well above the league average. (Jack Cust, at 17.3 percent, tops the list of active players with 1000 plate appearances, while new Brewer Yuniesky Betancourt comes in last at just 3.4 percent.) Youkilis is known for taking pitches early in the count and his still being an effective hitter if he gets behind in the count.

Let’s compare Youkilis with Derek Jeter of the arch-nemesis Yankees using the Batter Comparison tool in the Baseball IQ app. Specifically, we’ll look at the rate that each player swings at the first pitch of an at bat.

As you can see, Youkilis swings at 9-12 percent of first pitches throughout the year, while Jeter goes after the first pitch more than twice as often, around 24-26 percent. Obviously, their vastly different styles still work well for each of them.

Check out Bill James Baseball IQ today, in the App Store or online!

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com

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Who’s the Next Jose Bautista? Predicting 2011′s Breakout Players

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

A few years ago, we researched the predictive significance of Spring Training statistics. For the most part, a player’s spring stats aren’t predictive of regular season success. For example, Ichiro Suzuki hit .257 (19 for 74) last spring but still wound up hitting .315 and leading all of baseball with 214 hits during the regular season.

However, we did find that extremely good Spring Training numbers often indicated that a breakout season was on the way. In the study, about two-thirds of hitters who had spring slugging percentages at least .200 higher than their career total went on to best their career average that season.

Last year, Jose Bautista topped our list of potential breakout players with a spring slugging percentage near .900, nearly .500 points higher than his career slugging percentage of .400. The rest, as they say, is history: Bautista went on to slug a league-leading 54 home runs in one of the most surprising performances in recent memory.

Where can we find the next Jose Bautista? Well, the following list is a good place to start. Here are the 36 players whose Spring Training slugging percentages (minimum 40 at-bats) exceed their career totals by at least 200 points:

Possible Breakout Players
Slugging Percentage 200+ points better in Spring Training
Hitter, Team Difference Spring Career
Jake Fox, Orioles .413 .836 .423
Kila Ka’aihue, Royals .406 .804 .398
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees .381 .952 .571
Coco Crisp, Athletics .373 .783 .410
Chris Davis, Rangers .363 .822 .459
Travis Buck, Indians .359 .783 .424
George Kottaras, Brewers .351 .745 .394
Ian Kinsler, Rangers .350 .816 .466
Melky Cabrera, Royals .348 .727 .379
Rajai Davis, Blue Jays .328 .711 .383
Carlos Gomez, Brewers .318 .667 .349
Alcides Escobar, Royals .316 .651 .335
Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians .306 .700 .394
Starlin Castro, Cubs .304 .712 .408
Ryan Langerhans, Mariners .301 .675 .374
Russell Branyan, Diamondbacks .293 .783 .490
Brandon Wood, Angels .278 .538 .260
Michael Morse, Nationals .271 .727 .456
Ryan Roberts, Diamondbacks .270 .659 .389
Willie Harris, Mets .262 .614 .352
Jason Michaels, Astros .259 .674 .416
Josh Thole, Mets .258 .628 .373
Andy LaRoche, Athletics .253 .591 .338
Lyle Overbay, Pirates .253 .700 .447
Pete Orr, Phillies .250 .585 .335
Aubrey Huff, Giants .249 .725 .476
Matt Kemp, Dodgers .248 .720 .472
Aaron Miles, Dodgers .246 .600 .354
Alex Rios, White Sox .242 .688 .446
Chris Heisey, Reds .241 .674 .433
Alex Gordon, Royals .241 .646 .405
Scott Hairston, Mets .239 .674 .435
Buster Posey, Giants .236 .725 .489
Jonathan Herrera, Rockies .227 .556 .329
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays .206 .659 .453
Jason Kubel, Twins .204 .667 .463
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The 2010 Flat Bat Awards

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Each year we give the Flat Bat Award to baseball’s best bunter, and it’s time to hand out the 2010 award. First, let’s look at the best bunters in sacrifice situations. Here are the best sacrifice bunters in baseball for 2010, listed in order of most sacrifices:

2010 Sacrifice Hit Leaders
Player Successful Sacrifices Sacrifice Attempts Percentage
Clayton Kershaw, LAD 18 18 100%
Elvis Andrus, TEX 17 17 100%
Chone Figgins, SEA 17 19 89%
Ryan Dempster, CHC 16 17 94%
Nyjer Morgan, WAS 15 15 100%
Juan Pierre, CWS 15 21 71%

Now we have the best at bunting for hits, listed in order of most bunt hits in 2010. As you can see, the most successful bunters have a very high average when bunting for a hit. Of the 23 players who attempted at least 10 bunt base hits in 2010, their combined average on bunts was .490.

2010 Bunt Hit Leaders
Player, Team Successful Bunt Hits Bunt Hit Attempts Average
Erick Aybar, LAA 18 35 .514
Julio Borbon, TEX 17 30 .567
Elvis Andrus, TEX 12 18 .667
Angel Pagan, NYM 12 18 .667
Gregor Blanco, KC/ATL 12 17 .706

Last year’s Flat Bat award winner Erick Aybar again led the league with 18 bunt hits (in 35 attempts). Rangers rookie Julio Borbon gave Aybar a run for his money with 17 bunts hits. However, Aybar was also 11 for 13 in sac bunt attempts, giving him an edge over Borbon (8 for 11).

Congratulations to Erick Aybar for successfully defending his Flat Bat title!

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.

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