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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

OPS 1.000 bunting against the shift?

On base average plus slugging average (OPS) is not perfect but it gives us a pretty good idea of the relative value of players in the batter's box.  OPS+ is more refined, taking into account the season and ball parks, which because of non-uniform playing areas, a baseball only oddity, can impact batting performance significantly.

Here are the tops in career OPS, only 8 over 1.000:

For some perspective here are the tops in OPS+:

By Tony the Misfit via Wikimedia Commons
Mickey Mantle is number 11 (.977) in OPS, number 6 in OPS+ (172: 72 percent above average).  Mantle is not one of the eight over 1.000 in OPS.  However, when Mantle bunted:

Batting Average (BA): .527 (87 for 165)
On Base average: .527
Slugging average: .527
OPS: 1.054

Impact on Mantle's career BA:


I will immediately address the objections of non-radical baseball people:
1. Mantle was fast.
2. Mantle played a million years ago when everything was different.

1. Except for about a dozen plate appearances (PA), Mantle did not bat against the shift, which greatly reduces the need for speed and bunting skill.

Shift on Mickey Mantle.  Saturday, May 10, 2014

On June 5 at Yankee Stadium ... in 1956 ...The shift worked. Mantle whiffed his first two times up, failing to bunt twice ... Mantle failed to get a hit against it in four at-bats during the series ... 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.

This suggests 12 PA against the shift in 1956, Mantle's triple crown season (.353 BA, 130 RBI, 52 HR): 4 for 12, including a bunt single.  The two mentions of "failing to bunt twice" is vague and does not indicate whether it completed a PA, the criteria I used in defining Mantle's bunts.

For the umteenth time I'll mention that Mantle led in BA in 1956 by bunting: 12 for 20, which increased his BA ten points to .353.  Ted Williams was second with .345.

Click this link to view details on Mantle's bunts.

2. A million years ago Mantle was the home run king of baseball, so his personal attributes were very similar to those of today's players who are most likely to refuse to bunt against the shift.  They think that they are doing the other team a favor by forgoing a chance to hit a home run.  I've written several recent posts with specifics on Mantle bunting in order to increase the chances of his team winning, including 7 for 8 bunting in the World Series: BA .875.  Mantle also set the WS record for most homers: 18.

Let me emphasize again that I am advocating bunting against the shift, not bunting against a traditional alignment of fielders.  I am suggesting that even slow runners can bat at least .500 bunting against the shift.  That's an OPS of 1.000.  Mantle did it against the regular alignment used for over 100 years.  Can't current players adapt and match that against the shift?

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