King of the Useless Bunt
I’ve been holding my tongue over the latest smallball worship article on the Jays main page, but as Les Drunks point out, Jamie Campbell is starting to parrot it so I may as well let it out as the airwaves are no doubt about to be full of the same old garbage.
First, I find it bizarre when the slightest return of dead strategies leads to entire articles and giant sweeping statements about the game “changing”. The actual difference is so incredibly small – last year in the AL there was one bunt every 4.6 games. This year, it has been one every 4.4. The Jays have bunted three more times this season than last. Wow, that’s massive! Clearly a huge philosophical change at work here.
But anyway, the death of the bunt in baseball is an old, stupid argument that you either agree with or (like “never mind stats” Campbell), don’t. What I’m more interested in now is timing- even if you love them, you gotta admit that bunting early in the game or when it’s not close is less effective than at other times. There’s nothing “fundamental” about playing for a run or two in the first inning. So when have the Jays bunted this season?
So the poster boy and main quotee for bunts on the Jays, David Eckstein, has been king of the badly timed bunt this year. He has only laid one down before the fourth inning or when the Jays are up by four. Especially annoying (for me) was his sac against Garland the other night when he couldn’t find the strike zone with a ten foot pole and must have been overjoyed to see the Jays giving him an out in the second inning.
Every other bunt this season has been well-timed, either coming from a pitcher, late or tied and within a run or two, or against last years Cy Young in a duel against the Doc. The king of scrap just lays them down whenever- evidently the game isn’t swinging back to playing smart and having a sense of timing…