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The Bunting Babe?
2006-05-10 13:34
by Bob Timmermann

As loath as I am to link to a column by the execrable Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times, I will this time.

Mainly because I ran across this bit of "wisdom" that Plaschke researched. The column is about why Barry Bonds is not Babe Ruth. (For starters, Barry Bonds is not dead is what I would say.)

* Bonds has had four sacrifice bunts in his 20-year career.*

*Ruth once had 10 sacrifice bunts in one season.*

1. I don't know why Plaschke picked out Ruth's 1926 season for sacrifices. He had more sacrifices in other season. Ruth had 21 of them in 1930.

2. But sacrifices in Ruth's day weren't all bunts. There were sacrifice flies. And they were all just lumped together as "sacrifices". I doubt Ruth bunted all that much. Sacrifice flies weren't counted separately.

However, Ruth probably did bunt a little bit more than Bonds has. Why? Because managers in Ruth's day would play for one run more often.

Interestingly, in 1931, the sacrifice fly rule was revoked and it wouldn't return until the 1950s.

How many sacrifices was Ruth credited with for the 1931 season. In 145 games, Ruth had *ZERO*. How many runs did the Yankees score that season? 1067! The Yankees had 87 sacrifices in 1931. They had 162 in 1930. And they scored 1062 runs in 1930. I doubt Joe McCarthy was playing little ball with anyone on his roster other than his pitchers and guys like Joe Sewell.

Check out the career sacrifices for Lou Gehrig and how they drop off sharply after the elimination of the sacrifice fly rule in 1931.

Harmon Killebrew played 22 seasons and NEVER SACRIFICED. Is Killebrew some sort of monster? No, Killebrew was a slugger who played in an era of low offensive output and he was far more valuable to the Twins by trying to hit a home run.

But I've been told that Bill Plaschke is a keen observer of baseball...

2006-05-10 13:54:12
1.   Shaun P
Thanks for the interesting tidbit, Bob. But please don't mention the 87 sacrifices when scoring 1067 runs in 1931 to Joe Torre - he'll have Jeter bunting nightly.
2006-05-10 13:58:04
2.   Bob Timmermann
In 1931, Babe Ruth had an OPS+ of 219!
2006-05-10 14:22:53
3.   Shaun P
The moral of the story - the Yanks should eat more hot dogs and drink more beer.
2006-05-10 14:52:58
4.   Humma Kavula
I disagree. I think the moral of this story is that Bill Plaschke can find some sort of baseball truth (i.e., no matter how many home runs Bonds hits, his total career value is less than Ruth's) but the "facts" he uses to support that claim are either false or bogus.

Or, shorter: Plaschke is the proverbial blind squirrel.

2006-05-10 15:03:12
5.   Shaun P
So true, Humma 4. Its amazing that guys like him are the supposed "guardians" of the game, who know SOOOOO much about baseball. They don't even bother to check their facts (also doesn't say much for their editors and newspapers). Sigh.

Now I really feel like a beer and a hot dog!

2006-05-10 15:23:34
6.   Bob Timmermann
Asking Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig to bunt a runner over during their primes strikes me as lunacy. Sheer lunacy. Asking Barry Bonds to bunt is sheer lunacy.

Let's see. Bonds has one of the highest OBPs EVER. So, I think it makes more sense for him to DELIBERATELY MAKE AN OUT and bring up a worse hitter.

Why? Because it's a team game!

2006-05-10 15:25:15
7.   Humma Kavula
But what if he hits into a double play???


2006-05-10 15:30:50
8.   Andrew Shimmin
But I've been told that Bill Plaschke is a keen observer of baseball...

If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Plaschke answer'd it.

2006-05-10 15:33:31
9.   Bob Timmermann
Barry Bonds has never hit into more than 15 DPs in a season. And that was 8 years ago.

GIDP stats weren't kept in Ruth's time except for his last season.

2006-05-10 16:32:11
10.   grandcosmo
To quote Teddy Roosevelt, Bill Plaschke is "a flubdub with a streak of the second-rate and the common in him."

Has anyone bothered to write to the LAT to tell them of Plaschke's error?

2006-05-10 16:43:34
11.   Bob Timmermann
Where would one letter listing Plaschke's start and where would it end? It's like you need a platoon of scribes just to keep up with the idiocies.
2006-05-10 17:08:44
12.   grandcosmo
11. The LAT editors won't listen to people complain about Plaschke's opinions but listing his factual errors would help to dissuade them from their lunatic idea that he is their baseball specialist.

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