In a session with the media on Friday before the St. Patrick’s Day game against the San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black expounded upon his philosophies when it comes to calling for the bunt.
“I think there is a time and place for the bunt, and there is a time and place not to bunt,” then he paused. “How general is that?”
Black is casual and humorous quite often with the press, he knows when he isn’t giving us the stock soundbites we so often love but the nuances answers are almost always closer to the truth. Black continued, highlighting the dilemma that faces managers when making this decision.
“I do think if you run some of the numbers … you can say that if you swing away in bunt situations … your odds of scoring are greater,” he says. “But I think on any given night, every game is different so you don’t know. One game, one night, one situation … the bunt makes sense.”
And why? “Because it’s hard to get hits off of [Noah] Syndgaard or Kenley Jansen or [Madison] Bumgarner. You gotta do some things to get some guys into scoring position.”
Black also intimated that these could be ongoing conversations throughout the year, stating, “I think a manager will tell you why he bunted or why he didn’t,” and saying that when it comes to improving the success rate “Let’s do some research.”
Sacrifice bunts are down across the league, and there are a number of running theories as to why. More sluggers? Kids just don’t learn or focus on it at an early age? Pitchers are wiser to making the bunt not so automatic? Black says, “I think there has been a shift because of the analytics [and understanding]the importance of outs. You only get 27 of them. And swinging away make sense, because you’re not giving away an out.”
Based on today’s conversation, it seems like Bud Black won’t be trying to play small ball with any kind of regularity. But understanding that there are some fearsome pitchers in the NL West (and in other places, too) there absolutely will be night the Rockies just need to scratch out a run, it will be dependent upon the new manager to recognize those situations accordingly.