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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Brian McCann goes Mickey Mantle: bunt and homer in same game!

Brian McCann, way to go.  I'm guessing that's a career first.  In yesterday's 7-1 Yankee win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Yankee Stadium McCann had a bunt and a homer.  OK, the bunt was against the shift and an out and the homer was a modern Yankee Stadium cheapie off Vin Mazzaro padding a 5-1 eighth inning lead but what the heck.  McCann's home run rate (AB/HR) this season: (138/6) one homer every 23 AB; career: every 22 AB.

In the bottom of the first:
Brett Gardner bunt grounds out, third baseman Pedro Alvarez to first baseman Ike Davis.  Derek Jeter singled.  Mark Teixeira homered to right.  Brian McCann bunt grounds out, pitcher Edinson Volquez to first baseman Ike Davis.

McCann bunted the ball fair on the first pitch, a 92 mph sinker.  In the previous game McCann also squared around and bunted but was trying to be too fine and it went foul; he eventually struck out.  This time McCann got it well fair on the left side but not into the ocean of vacant space.  Brian, you've got to bunt it hard enough to get it past the pitcher.  Other Yankees, including Kelly Johnson, were inspired to bunt but none completed a plate appearance with a bunt.

Mickey Mantle didn't always succeed when bunting:
- regular season: .527 batting average, including 1 for 10 with five strike outs in his final season
- World Series: .875 batting average (7 for 8)
- All Star game: bunt single off Don Drysdale in Mantle's only bunt attempt I know of.

Of course, Mantle batted against the shift only a few times, probably fewer than McCann has this season.

Shift on Mickey Mantle.  Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mantle failed to get a hit against it in four at-bats during the series, and went 4-for-9 when there was no shift. Later in June, at Kansas City, Mantle went 4-for-8 against the shift, but all four hits were singles, including a bunt on a 3-2 pitch...

In 39 career games Mickey bunted and homered.
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Brian McCann fails to bunt into the ocean created by the shift, no Mickey Mantle he.  Friday, May 16, 2014

Mantle bunted 61% more frequently in the World Series (WS) than in the regular season.
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Brian McCann, you're making progress.  I give you credit.

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