A Perfect Sacrifice Bunt
While Ryan Adams will get recognition for his game-winning, ninth-inning hit in Sunday’s 4-3 Tides win, and Charlotte’s Anthony Carter will get blamed for his wildness (a hit batsman and two walks), Blake Davis’ sacrifice bunt will get overlooked. As it turned out, his bunt had absolutely no impact on the result — the subsequent walks made it irrelevant — but it was an admirably executed sacrifice and one that deserves more recognition.
Historian Bill James has established that the commonly-held idea that the batter, in executing a sacrifice bunt, should “give himself up” to advance the runner is nonsense. No batter should ever go to the plate intending to make an out (except in odd circumstances involving bad weather.) Instead, the bunter should attempt to place the bunt where he can beat it out, but minimizing the risk of popping the bunt up or missing the pitch. So, if he doesn’t beat it out, he at least successfully advances the runners.
Blake Davis executed that perfectly. Charlotte first baseman Dan Johnson was holding Scott Beerer on first base, and second baseman Tyler Kuhn was cheating toward first base. Davis bunted the ball far off the first-base line and past the pitcher’s mound, where there was no fielder stationed. And I must give credit to Dan Johnson. He reacted quickly, fielded the ball, and threw to Tyler Kuhn to retire Davis. And Scott Beerer advanced to second base.
One of the dumbest scoring rules in baseball, one that should be repealed immediately, is the one that says that a sacrifice bunt should not be credited if the batter is trying to bunt for a hit. Blake Davis tried to place the bunt in a way that maximized his ability to reach base safely while ensuring that the runner reached second. Because of Dan Johnson’s skill, and because Davis’ bunt wasn’t quite good enough, he was put out — but he still deserves credit for his effort.