Yeah I think I not really making my point here clearly so let me try:
I'm aware of the arguments against sacrifice bunting, but are people seriously arguing somewhere that selectively bunting for a base hit is a bad idea?
In fairness, I don't read "bad" idea. Just that some are saying it's over-rated (i.e. can't believe the numbers).
1-if bunting in the right situation results in a successful rate then yeah it's a good idea.
2-I understand this rate has been sustained for many years.
3-but each year these bunt for hits (not sacrificing) is a ver small percentage of AB or PA that I can't say that if the bunting was increased significantly each year that the success rate would sustain. Right now less than 1% of PA are bunt attempts for hits and that is a small sample regardless of how the success rate maintains year after year. I'd love to see a year where this is do e 4x as often.
4-so I can't get behind the belief that increasing this will be able to maintain that nearly .400 AVG
My basic belief is that it is underutilized and, honestly, rarely tried for the vast majority of MLB players. As Tom Tango said, the beefy guys just aren't incentivized. Actually, that is what they told him. And even the not so beefy guys don't try it so much.
Well, internally, the Cubs can provide incentive to their young, developing players with playing time and promotions. Almost all of their core/core-ish position players are either fast enough (Lake, Castro, Almora, Soler, Alacantara, Bryant) or a left-handed hitter (Vogelbach, Rizzo). The only outlier is Castillo (he is slow as molasses and right-handed to boot) Yadier Molina is 1 for 42. I'm willing to stipulate that some dudes should just hang it up.
Does this mean that if player X sucks at it that he won't get promoted/playing time? No. It means he has to TRY or he won't get promoted/playing time.
Will the .400 plus BA go down? Likely, yes. But, say it does go down to .400. That's still .400! Or .375 (that would be a precipitous drop) is still .375. However, an argument could be made that, with some decent practice, the average could go UP. And we know that there are other benefits as well (shift busting, regular BA going up because of drawn-in infielders, higher percentage of SAC in crucial game situations and maybe even a pitcher grooving a high fastball to Bryant, Baez, Soler or Rizzo/Vogelbach thinking he's going to bunt). A given team could have 10-20 extra hits (over and above what they would have had) this way and immeasurably better bunting skills across the board.
Carlos Pena. He started off good (6 for 15--.400) but in his last five years he is 24 for 35. That's a .686 BA. I think he got better as he did it (and, obviously, as it was availed to him--the more they shifted, the more he did it, the better he became). Some of our batters could start developing these skills before they turn 31.