rizzo bunt

Yesterday, against the shift, Anthony Rizzo twice bunted for a single. As you can see in the picture above, it was like taking candy from a Cardinal. A little baby Cardinal. One that’s been crying for a while. Because you took its candy.

There was not a defender in sight on the left side, and, with no runners on base, Rizzo did his job: get on base. Rizzo’s third time up? The Cardinals did not shift. As I’ve indicated before, this entire sequence made me giddy.

Then, Rizzo redoubled my giddiness with some fantastic quotes about the bunts after the game. You can check them out here, here, and here, among other places, but the money one is this one:

“Everyone wants to play these shifts, and I have Castro hitting behind me. If no one is on and they’re going to give me that – may as well take it.”

Bingo. May as well take it. Who wouldn’t want a 1.000/1.000/1.000 line, eh? And, just as Rizzo said, each time he bunted, Castro got a hit behind him. One of those hits was a homer.

(I’d probably debate the idea that Rizzo shouldn’t be bunting if it was a one-run or tie game. Some say he should be swinging away, because he could hit a homer. But I ask: if he was swinging away in that situation, and he rips a single to right, are you saying to yourself, “I’m glad he was swinging, but that outcome really sucked.” No, right? You’re saying, “All right, nice rip, baserunners, hooray.” So if the option of a *free* baserunner is given in *any* situation, why wouldn’t you take it?)

Rizzo added to the fun when asked if he’ll bunt if the Brewers shift on him this weekend: “If I bunt, I’d bunt it right back to Garza.” He was joking, but, you know … that could work.

  • Argonzo

    Interesting question and I imagine there are stats somewhere to feed either side. Would you rather have a percentage chance at a homer (based on whatever your personal breakdown is) or almost a certainty (of course not 100%) of a bunt single?

    As you say, the situation probably plays in.

    • SirCub

      And not just homers, he’s got a certain % chance at a double that gets taken away with the bunt, too. In either case, a double or a homer has a huge added value in a close-late game situation, where a single might not (especially if there are 2 outs).

  • MightyBear

    I like how Rizzo’s having some fun with this. It makes it fun for us fans. God knows we need some fun. Also, if Hammel or the Shark is traded, I bring up Hendricks. He’s the future. Wada is not.

    • J.L.

      Hendricks will still “be the future” if he stays at Iowa. I say we should bring up whoever is pitching best.

      • Noah_I

        Agreed. Also, it’s not like Wada, if he’s pitching well, is some guy just on the tail end of his career who can’t contribute. He’s 33, not 37. If he stays healthy, he can likely contribute as a solid back end of the rotation option for 2-3 years beyond this one (pitchers aren’t subject to the aging curve as much as hitters).

        Also, isn’t he subject to all the standard team control rules, now that he is off his first contract with the Orioles? So, as someone with not that much over a year of service time, he’d be very cheap for the Cubs for a couple of seasons?

        Also, I wouldn’t call any pitcher who, if everything breaks right for, is a good number 4 starter in the Majors, “the future.” Hendricks might be someone that lets us pay a solid 4th (or more likely 5th) starter less than $500K for a few years, but anything more than that is very optimistic.

    • Miggy80

      Good point, but I think you then bring up Wada to build his value and trade. After the trade in the second half then if Hendricks is looking good bring him up. Who knows maybe with Baez and Bryant. That would be sweet.

      • Noah_I

        Honestly, after his terrible start this year, I’d be kind of surprised to see Baez in the Majors in 2014. He’d just have to start putting up the sort of numbers he did in his last month and a half or so at Tennessee last season, for at least two months straight, to get a call up. If that started now, he could get a call up in mid to late July. But even if he just looks very good, as opposed to amazing, I think the Cubs keep him in Iowa for the whole season as opposed to starting his service clock,and then we’d see him sometime between April 21 and June 25 of 2015 for his MLB debut.

    • Smitty

      Also, if we don’t bring up Wada by a certain date, he is free to become a free agent, so you probably bring him up before Hendricks if all things are equal.

    • King Jeff

      Wada is a pretty interesting guy who is really pitching injury free for the first time since coming to the states. I know he’s up there in age, but I’d rather see him get a shot over promoting Hendricks or any other prospect too quickly.

  • Cizzle

    It really is amazing to think how many more wins Garza would have if he could field bunts. 15-20 per season at least!

  • Danny Ballgame

    Glad that Tony-O took a jab at Garza

  • Guest

    Just like this

  • ShootTheGoat

    I’m glad. I’ve always wondered why more hitters do not at least attempt this more often…All it does is get them on base and raise their average and gives the team more chances to score runs.

    • cubmig

      Sveum has to be smiling inside as he sees his “bunt contest” paying off….lol

  • SirCub

    Let’s debate! I’d say the number of outs in the inning is important. A runner on 1st w/ 2 outs is not worth much. I’d rather have your best hitter swing away.

    • Miggy80

      4 out of 5 times I’ll take a runner on 1st w/2 outs

      • cubsfan08

        I agree – and also I think the way to approach it is that the bunt hit has a nearly 100% success rate (at least in how we are applying it to this argument). By guaranteeing to be a single and on 1b, now our odds of scoring would rise dramatically. With Rizzo up and no outs, he has x% chance of hitting a home run and scoring. With him bunting and on 1st – all the next hitter needs to do is double and the Cubs score a run. Statistically those odds have to be significantly better!

        • SirCub

          Yea, I think its hard to argue with, assuming the bunt has a 100% success rate. But that’s an assumption that I think needs to be validated. For example, a lot of NFL coaches make the decision to “take the points” and kick a field goal based on this assumption. Turns out that even short field goals are not 100%, and coaches are better off going for it on 4th down in many scenarios.

        • SirCub

          According to Jeff Sullivan, bunting against the shift (when the ball is put in play) results in the batter successfully reaching base about 2 out of 3 times.

          http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/more-about-bunting-and-beating-the-shift/

          That reduces the slash line to a paltry 0.666/0.666/0.666.

    • Brocktoon

      The most overwhelmingly likely positive outcome for a “swinging away” Rizzo is him at 1st w/ 2 outs. The overwhelmingly likely outcome period is 3 outs.

      • SirCub

        True. The most likely outcome of a Rizzo PA is an out (60%). But the same is true of a Castro PA, to an even greater extent (65%). The question is, does having a man on first increase your chances of scoring (on back to back singles, or possibly an extra base hit) justify Rizzo taking first? I guess probably so. Otherwise the other team would just intentionally walk him. I’m just saying, its not a given, for every lineup construction.

        • Brocktoon

          Well yeah, you have to take the following batters into account, and really the Cubs lineup isn’t ideal for it, (Not a great power guy after him, not a deep lineup allowing for back to back singles driving him in) but quickly eyeballing the numbers, I’d think it’s still beneficial for Rizzo to bunt in any situation(again assuming a near 100% success rate.)

          • SirCub

            I agree. I’m mostly just arguing devil’s advocate here. As I said last night, the thing that really justifies the bunt here is Castro’s HR in the 4th. The argument falls apart when the hitter after the supposed bunter has essentially the same rate of HR’s and extra base hits (which, amazingly, Castro does right now). In the scenario of a tie-game, two outs, 9th inning, with a slugger followed up by a singles hitter, he should swing away. But in that scenario, he’s probably getting IBB’d anyway.

    • ssckelley

      Except a home run, there is no better way to start a 2 out rally than with a base hit or a walk. To use steal a line from Money Ball, do we care how they get on 1st base? Not only that but look at how many base hits have been taken away from Rizzo because has hit right into the shift. I have seen plenty of line drives off Rizzo’s bat that would be base hits if they were not using the shift against him.

      Too bad Rizzo was not a little faster, someone with a little more speed could almost bunt for a double with no third baseman.

      • Norm

        “Except a home run, there is no better way to start a 2 out rally than with a base hit or a walk.”

        How else CAN you start a rally besides a HR, hit, or walk?

        With 2 outs and none on, swing away. Jim Deshaies pointed this out on the broadcast too.

        • mjhurdle

          HBP

      • mjhurdle

        Great point about how many hits Rizzo has had taken away.
        Even with 2 outs and no one on, I like seeing Rizzo take the free hit. Not only does it get a runner on, but it also discourages future shifts when maybe there aren’t 2 outs.
        The more hits Rizzo steals from the shift, the less likely teams will shift him. Keep taking the hits they give you and force them to stop shifting (which steals other hits).

  • Coop

    Wouldn’t the line be 1.000/1.000/2.000?

    • Brocktoon

      No, BA – 1.000/ OBP – 1.000/ SLG – 1.000

      • Noah_I

        A few years ago it would have been written the way Coop did it most of the time (BA/OBP/OPS), but yeah, now most people do BA/OBP/SLG. It, in effect, provides the same information either way.

    • Coop

      Got it – I was definitely thinking AVG/OBP/OPS.

  • Spoda17

    I’ll take it every time

  • NorthSideIrish

    Carrie Muskat ‏@CarrieMuskat 3m
    #Cubs Zac Rosscup had MRI on shoulder and says there was some inflammation, but no structural damage, which is good news

    Definitely a relief. He’s one of the few hard throwing leftys in the system.

  • NorthSideIrish

    Chris Crawford posted an article on ESPN Insider with the Top 25 MLB draft propsects in the last 10 years…basically, how good of a prospect they were at the time of the draft. Cubs have two…Bryant at 24 and Vitters at 15. Lots of misses on the list, but Vitters was definitely a legit prospect when he was drafted.

    http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/mlb-draft/post?id=1674

  • Montlester de Schwarbach

    My guess is that the Brewers may NOT shift when Rizzo bats as to not temp him to try bunting whenever Garza is pitching.