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John Dewan's Stat of the Week


The Flat Bat Award 2015

November 24, 2015

It's time again for the Flat Bat Award, which we give annually to the past season's best bunter. The reigning winner of the Flat Bat Award, Leonys Martin, actually won the Award in both 2013 and 2014. However, poor overall offensive production led the Rangers to demote Martin, and with only 310 major league plate appearances, he was limited to just six bunt hits (on 11 attempts) and three sacrifice bunts.

That means that 2015 will feature a new Flat Bat Award winner. And a new method for determining the winner—more on that below. Here are the top 10 players in bunt run value:

Name Sac Bunts Failed Sac Bunts Bunt Hits Failed Bunt Hits Run Value
Delino DeShields 7 1 12 5 4.51
Dee Gordon 6 0 16 14 4.51
Carlos Gomez 3 0 9 0 4.10
Cory Spangenberg 8 0 9 4 3.57
Adeiny Hechavarria 0 0 9 3 3.33
Elvis Andrus 8 1 9 5 3.25
Gerardo Parra 4 1 8 2 3.20
Billy Hamilton 9 1 12 13 3.01
Brett Gardner 8 0 7 3 2.90
Freddy Galvis 7 0 7 3 2.85


Incredibly, the two top bunters, Delino DeShields and Dee Gordon, finished in a tie! DeShields had one more successful sacrifice in two more attempts while Gordon had 4 more bunt hits in 13 more attempts. Those two differences balance each other exactly, and as such, we’re naming DeShields and Gordon co-winners of the 2015 Flat Bat Award.

This year, we changed up our approach for determining the champion. Previously, we looked at both sacrifice and bunt-for-hit attempts, and without using any specific criteria, we weighed every player’s number of attempts at each against his success rates at each to determine a winner. This year, we relied on run value (changes in run expectancy) to make the call, instead.

On bunt hit attempts, the calculation is pretty simple. Over the last three seasons, a successful bunt hit increased a team’s run expectancy by 0.437 runs and a failed bunt-for-hit attempt cost teams an average of 0.201 runs. For the bunt hit portion of the Flat Bat Award, we are just going to apply those run values. For example, Elvis Andrus had nine bunt hits; multiply nine by 0.437 and you get 3.94 runs. Meanwhile, he had 5 failed bunt hits, which when multiplied by -0.201 is about -1.01 runs. Added together, that is 2.93 runs.

The sacrifice attempt piece is more complicated because, on average, even successful sacrifices lower a team’s run expectancy (by about 0.167 runs). It doesn’t make sense to penalize players for successfully sacrificing themselves because that is what the manager asked them to do. But because the mangers are the ones that are making the decision, we can measure a player’s effectiveness with sacrifice attempts with a plus/minus approach.

Here is how that works. Since 2013, players have succeeded on their sacrifice attempts about 68 percent of the time. Meanwhile, the difference in run expectancy between a successful sacrifice attempt (-0.167 runs) and an unsuccessful attempt (-0.340 runs) is about 0.173 runs. Therefore, to compare each player’s sacrifice bunting prowess to an average bunter, we will add (1 – 0.68) * 0.173 = 0.055 runs every time he successfully sacrifices himself and subtract 0.68 * 0.173 = 0.118 runs every time he fails. With that approach, players who succeed more than the average 68 percent of the time will create positive run expectancy and players who succeed less will create negative run expectancy. Returning to the Andrus example, he successfully sacrificed himself eight times (which multiplied by 0.055 is 0.44 runs) and failed one time (which times -0.118 is -0.12 runs). Putting those two together, 0.44 – 0.12 is 0.32 runs from sacrifice bunting, which added to his 2.93 runs from bunt hit attempts is 3.25 total runs from all of his bunting.

Search Archived Stats of the Week

Published Date:

 TitlePublished Date
Edit The Flat Bat Award 2015 Nov 24 2015
Edit The Andrelton Simmons Trade Nov 16 2015
Edit Stolen Base Times Revisited Nov 09 2015
Edit The 2015 Fielding Bible Awards Oct 30 2015
Edit Stolen Base Times Oct 26 2015
Edit Hitters Who Should Be Shifted More Often Oct 21 2015
Edit Who are the 2015 Fielding Bible Award / Gold Glove Contenders? (Part II) Sep 28 2015
Edit Who are the 2015 Fielding Bible Award / Gold Glove Contenders? (Part I) Sep 24 2015
Edit Kevin Kiermaier - Historic Defensive Season? Sep 14 2015
Edit Who Are The 2015 MVP Candidates? Aug 31 2015
Edit Cannon Arms in 2015 Aug 28 2015
Edit What a Month for the White Sox Aug 07 2015
Edit Tulowitzki is a Defensive Upgrade Over Reyes Jul 31 2015
Edit Curtis Granderson Defense-Independent Batting Statistics Jul 24 2015
Edit Infield Hits by Speed Score Jul 07 2015
Edit Is Max Scherzer the World’s Best Pitcher? Jun 29 2015
Edit AL Central – Defense-Independent Standings Jun 17 2015
Edit Who Will Throw the Next No-Hitter? Jun 11 2015
Edit 2015 Booms and Busts May 29 2015
Edit Are the Padres’ Outfielders Hitting Enough? May 20 2015
Edit Who are the Best and Worst Defensive Teams So Far? May 14 2015
Edit Who's Hot and Who's Not...according to Bill James Apr 30 2015
Edit Shifts Continue to Rise Apr 23 2015
Edit Home Runs and Home Run Robberies Apr 15 2015
Edit What is the Upper Limit of Shifts? Mar 30 2015
Edit A Strike on Every Pitch? Mar 20 2015
Edit Could Jonathan Lucroy Be As Good As Yadier Molina? Mar 06 2015
Edit Who Will Be The 2015 Statistical Leaders? Feb 26 2015
Edit Shift or Get Off the Pot Feb 13 2015
Edit The Best Projected Defensive Infield and Outfield Feb 06 2015
Edit Let's Eliminate The Shift Jan 30 2015
Edit The Most Pitcher & Hitter Friendly Umpires Jan 16 2015
Edit The Best Baserunning Team in MLB Jan 09 2015
Edit Are Defensive Runs Saved Predictive? Dec 31 2014
Edit The Downside of the Recent Padres Acquisitions Dec 19 2014
Edit The Flat Bat Award 2014 Dec 04 2014
Edit Mark Buehrle – One of the Most Durable Pitchers of All Time Nov 25 2014
Edit Is Madison Bumgarner the World's #1 Starting Pitcher? Nov 14 2014
Edit Giants Defensive Positioning a Big Assist in Game 7 Victory Nov 05 2014
Edit The 2014 Fielding Bible Awards Oct 30 2014
Edit Who Gives a Shift? Oct 23 2014
Edit Who are the 2014 Fielding Bible Award / Gold Glove Contenders? (Part II) Oct 06 2014
Edit Who are the 2014 Fielding Bible Award / Gold Glove Contenders? (Part I) Oct 01 2014
Edit Pitchers with the Best and Worst Run Support Sep 18 2014
Edit Which teams have come on in the second half? Sep 09 2014
Edit Instant Replay Sep 02 2014
Edit Top Defensive Players for 2014 Aug 20 2014
Edit Who Are The 2014 MVP Candidates? Aug 08 2014
Edit How Do Shifts Affect League-Wide Batting Averages? Jul 25 2014
Edit The Best and Worst Baserunners in 2014 Jul 18 2014
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