Jan
31

Yanks’ slugger proposes bunting to beat the shift

By

By all accounts, Mark Teixeira had a disappointing 2011 for the Yankees. After a stellar 2009 when he hit .292/.383/.565, Teixeira had a down year in 2010 with a .256/.365/.481 line. His slugging rebounded slightly to .494 last year but he hit .248 with a .341 OBP. At age 31, in his offensive peak, Teixeira shouldn’t see his numbers declining so drastically.

To make matters worse, Teixeira exhibited some drastic splits. Against right-handed pitchers as a left-handed batter, Teixeira hit .224/.325/.453 in 464 plate appearances, and it seemed as though he had been programmed for pop-ups. In an effort seemingly to blast home runs over the short right field wall, Teixeira got under too many pitches. Watching him hit left-handed grew painful.

Over the course of the season, Yankee fans grew frustrated with Teixeira. Why would he keep batting lefty? Why wouldn’t he do something to change his approach? Why wouldn’t he — gasp — bunt against the shift?

Now, I can’t stand this idea. Mark Teixeira was brought in to hit home runs and play a solid first base. He wasn’t brought in to bunt, and the Yanks shouldn’t be messing with his swing after a disappointing season. Still, Teixeira is seemingly open to the idea. Pete Caldera was at the Thurman Munson Awards Dinner on Tuesday night when the Yanks’ $180 million man started talking.

“I’ve been so against it my entire career, [but] I might lay down some bunts. If I can lay down a few bunts, beat the shift a little more the other way, then I’m right where I need to be,” he said. “Maybe I’ll lay down 20 bunts in spring and see what happens. If I’m 1-for-20, maybe I’ll have to go back to the drawing board.”

On the one hand, I like the idea of beating the shift now and then. On the other hand, the idea of Mark Teixeira bunting fills me with sheer unavoidable dread. In theory, it seems like a decent enough idea, but this is a baseball player who admitted he hadn’t bunted since high school, 14 years ago.

Teixeira had a .239 BABIP last year. That could indicate that he was largely unlucky or that could indicate that he was simply hitting too many ground balls or pop ups. He still blasted 39 home runs, and that’s why the Yanks have him. In January, it might be fun to suggest bunting. In April, he should be up there swinging away, in search of a more productive season. The bunting can stay at home.

Categories : Offense
  • Darren

    I think you meant “the idea of Mark Texeira BUNTING fills” you with dread.

    Without the word “bunting”, one is left to wonder why you are so scared of a seemingly easygoing first baseman.

    Also, I would be all for him seeing if he has any bunting ability. If he does, it would be great to keep the defense honest with an occasional bunt.

    • Roy

      This whole conversation is dumb. Fact of the matter is that Teixeira needs to level off his swing, learn to let the ball travel deeper in the zone and hit to all fields. A couple doubles off the left or centerfield walls will do a lot more to get defenses to play him straight up than a few bunts. He has one of the worst swings in major league baseball and lacks any transfer of power from legs to trunk and hits almost entirely with amazing arm strength. What I am saying is Teixeira needs to re-create his swing to become a true asset to the team. Consider the hitters in front of him and behind him; hitting into the overshift is a true waste of an inning that can be avoided.

      • KeithK

        I disagree that a few doubles to left center would change the shirt. Ground balls are different from fly balls and are tracked separately. If he only hits grounders to the right side as a lefty it won’t matter if he also hits some fly balls to the left side. The CF may shade a little differently but the infielders will stay in their shift.

  • Rey22

    Maybe with 2 outs and nobody on base or something, just to get on base and give the next guy a chance to hit with a man on. Not much to lose I suppose.

  • https://twitter.com/Mattpat11 Matt DiBari

    “and it seemed as though he had been programmed for pop-ups”

    Now now. he was also really good at swinging over change-ups.

    Seriously though, if he bunts enough to keep them honest, it could be a good thing.

    If he turns into a slow Phil Rizzuto, mistakes have been made.

  • Ethan

    I think the fact that his BABIP was so low just indicates that he was hitting the ball where the fielders we (ie the shift was working well). It doesn’t indicate the he was extremely unlucky IMO.

    • Mike c

      pop-ups are considered unlucky now?

  • AaronGuielWithASmile

    I hate this idea. Tex is paid to hit homeruns, and — despite whatever other problems he may be having at the plate — he does that exceptionally well. Let’s not take the bat out of his hands by hoping in vain for a few infield singles.

    It’s not like he’s a speedster or anything; a few successful sac bunts aren’t going to stop the other team from shifting against him. Seeing Teixeira lay one down the line is a best case scenario for the opposing pitcher.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Call me crazy but I think they factor some other things in WAR than home runs.

      • AaronGuielWithASmile

        Do you really think that some bunt singles are going to drastically improve Texeira’s WAR?

        Because they aren’t going to cause managers to stop shifting against him.

        • Andy In Sunny Daytona

          If Tex had an extra 20 bloop, bunt crap singles his average from the right side goes to .275/.353/.504 and his overall numbers go to .282/.370/.528 and no one cries.

          • Plank

            20 is a huge number.

            • bas

              Think of it once every month or five weeks and it doesn’t seem that formidable (?sp?)

              • Plank

                That would be 5 or 6, not 20.

    • Sayid J.

      Who said sac bunts? He is talking about bunting for hits against the shift.

      Teixeira is not paid just to hit home runs. He is paid to get on base. If he can bunt a couple times a month against the shift, not only will he be on base more from the bunts, but he may also face a less drastic shift and thus allow him to get on base even more.

      • the Other Steve S.

        Truth, if we paid someone to just hit home runs, bring up JoVa. Way cheaper.

    • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

      Yeah, but he’s not paid to be a good fielding Dave Kingman…which is basically what he’s turning into on his current track. His 39 HR were among the quietest 39 HR I’ve ever seen. The Yankees paid for a guy with a .930 OPS…not .841 (which is what it’s been the last two years) and a one-trick pony offensive player.

      I say if he can get back on track with a few strategic bunts to beat the shift…bring it on.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

    If he wants to lay down a bunt to beat the shift once in a while, fine. He better not make a habit out of it though.

    • Billion$Bullpen

      I thought on base percentage is something you guys liked a lot? If he can get on base more great. I think the main point of bunting in these situations is to keep the fielders honest. It is dumb not to keep them honest. It is also dumb to not get on base when you have somebody handing you an almost free way to get on base.

      I hate this “he does not get paid to bunt” nonsense. He is a player on the New York Yankees and his job is to help them win games. That is his job, if he can get on base more and keep the other teams D honest that should give his team a chance to win a few more games. Nobody is looking for Tex or Giambi before him to be Ichiro, Ty Cobb or The Mick. Just do a better job of being a thinking ball player all the way around and find the best way every play or at bat to help your team.

      • Sayid J.

        Thank you sir.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

        Why do you assume that the bunt automatically results in him getting on base? He hasn’t bunted since high school.

        • Plank

          I don’t think it would be automatic, but I do think it would be a much higher success rate than his batting average.

        • Jonathan

          While many players struggle to get the perfect bunt down, we’re not talking about a perfect bunt here. Just bunting the ball to 1/2 of the infield is extremely easy if you’re talented enough to be a major leaguer. There are many pitchers capable of doing it at a very successful rate. I was like Tex and never bunted growing up but in college we had an awful coach and had to all the time. It’s really not that difficult. If he spent 10 minutes a day practicing it I have zero doubt he could do it at a ridiculously high rate.

      • Roy

        amen

    • Tags

      Who says just a bunt, a check swing the other way would work also. The point is to get teams away from the shift. I could give a crap if he bunted for a base hit 20-30 times, its easier to watch then a pop fly to second

      • Tom

        Why would teams abandon the shift? The only thing it could do is have the 3rd baseman play less at the SS position and closer to the line…

        The fundamental problem people are missing is the shift is effective because of the 3 infielders on the right side of the infield and that is not changing with 0 succeesful bunts or 100 successful bunts.

        All bunting will do is effect where the 3rd baseman plays but it’s not like he’s fielding a bunch of Tex grounders anyway.

  • SevenAces

    Instead of the bunting idea, why not put more thought into that UGLY LH swing and approach?! All those friggin’ pop-ups/ground outs are going to screw him over regardless if there is a shift of not.

    • Billion$Bullpen

      I was hoping this was what he spent the majority of his time doing as well. His swing period has always worried me but that LH swing is about as ugly as it gets. It is amazing he has been able to get ANY success in his career with that approach. That swing is a technical nightmare.

  • BK2ATL

    I could see it if he’s up with no one on base, the ridiculous shift on, and the Yanks in one of those funks where hits and walks are scarce….

    Hell, if Ortiz can do it, Tex definitely can.

    At some point, he really just needs to level that swing out and try hitting more line-drives, which he did regularly prior to coming to NY and in 2009. The HRs and consistent contact came off of that swing.

  • Mike R.

    Why not do it every once in a while with 3rd base open?

    You don’t have to be a bunting savant. Just push it past the pitcher and it’s an easy single.

    I think it’ll make a small, but noticeable difference.

  • Raza

    The .239 BAbip was the real killer. His overall peripherals weren’t too bad. His BB% was near his career mark and his K% was at a very nice 16.1%. Both his BB% and K% were better than A-Gon’s last year. His ISO was also near career average.

    According to pitch f/x, his o-swing% was lower than career average, his z-swing% was higher than career average and his contact% was right in line with his career average.

    Judging by some of those numbers, if Tex gets a bit more lucky he should have a very productive offensive season. I might be optimistic but I don’t think a .380 wOBA, 140 wRC+ type season is out of the question. Add in his usual defense and that is a 5-5.5 WAR player right there.

    If he had a mere 10 more singles, Tex’s slash line would have been .265/.355/.511. More than respectable.

  • http://Riveraveblues.com Okyankee24

    I’m all for it. Keep em honest and get on for the next guy. If a guy hits .272 he is gonna score more times than a .242 guy. If he bunts 15 times in the first half it makes em believe and based on HR per AB you are giving up one big fly. Giving the situation he would be bunting that’s a solo shot too.

  • Jonathan

    I have no freaking idea why anyone would be against this. If they leave the entire left side open he should be able to hit over .800 bunting, and therefore a minimum of an .800 OBP. One of two things would happen: Either they let him bunt and basically get on base anytime he wants, or they have to put someone back on that side of the infield opening up the shift. Where on earth is the downside here? Either having someone constantly on base ahead of ARod/Cano etc or having Tex get to hit against a shift -1 fielder are both great outcomes. Where is the downfall? He doesn’t hit for as much power but wouldn’t you trade -.500 slugging with a bunch of homers and a low OBP for an OBP of .800+? .800 is admittedly a guess at how often he’d be successful but if all you had to do was get it to the left side of the infield I think he might even become more successful than 8 out of 10.

    • BrokenGlass

      PLEASE stop being reasonable! Just because the idea makes sense doesn’t mean anyone has to like it! ;)

      • Jonathan

        Haha but he was brought in to hit home runs! This argument drives me crazy since he’s consistently hit home runs and has admitted to changing his swing to use the porch…but nobody is happy with his production. So if he was brought in to hit home runs then quit freaking complaining about his performance because he’s been dominant in that aspect. Now if you want your former elite 1B to regain his batting average, which will in turn raise his slugging and OBP, then let him bunt.

        If I was a lefty struggling against a shift that left the left side open I’d bunt 100% of the time until they changed the shift. If at any time they went back to leaving it open I’m making them pay. And I’d probably bat him 2 hole ahead of Granderson/Cano/ARod so they could take advantage of him being on base almost every time up. I played baseball in college and played against and caught several player such as Aaron Crow, Scott Elbert and others and like Tex almost NEVER bunted. But it’s not that hard to do. Especially if all you had to do was get it on 1/2 of the infield. Even against elite MLB pitching I believe 99% of major leaguers could become successful 8/10 times at the minimum if they put a little work into it. Hell a lot of pitchers could do it. So I know someone with the hand eye coordination of Tex could.

        • KeithK

          Exactly. Normally bunting for base hits is hard because you have to place the ball just right to give yourself a chance to beat it out. A guy with Tex’s foot speed doesn’t have a chance. But bunting for a hit with the 3B playing over at SS is about as hard as learning to sacrifice, which is something that every major league hitter should be able to do. Just bunt the ball down the third base side and you’re home free.

          • Jonathan

            Thank you. I think fans that haven’t played really get the sense that bunting is difficult because of the players in the game today. Almost all of them spent their entire lives being the god of whatever team they played on up until the majors and maybe even then. So they never really worked on the fundamentals of bunting. So when they’re called to sac bunt, instead of just giving yourself up and moving the man over they go for the perfect bunt, which is difficult. But getting a bunt down that goes to 1/2 of the field is probably one of the easiest things to do in the sport. You can turn around early and just wait like a true sac bunt and then catch it while sending it the other way. If the 3B is playing an up the middle SS he has no chance to get it even if he takes off running when you square around. I’ve seen AGonz, Ortiz, Pena all do it. I just don’t get why they always don’t do it.

  • V

    If the bunt for a hit is successful > 50% of the time, I’m all for doing it 95% of the time until opponents adjust.

  • pat

    Heard Mariano is going to work on a changeup too,

  • Joel

    I hate it when someone says, “he was brought here to hit home runs”. He was brought here to help the team win. Period. If his ability to help the team win is hindered by a defensive shift, then it behooves him to do the thing that will remove that shift. If he can’t do it then that’s another story, but trying to get himself in good bunting form so that he can make that an issue for the defense and hopefully take away the shift is just good baseball.

    If Texeira bunts the ball toward third and gets some base hits, the shift will eventually go. It’s versatility. It’s smart. Good for him. Giambi should have done it more often too.

    • Plank

      I don’t think Giambi ever did it, did he?

      • Joel

        He did it once or twice. Not enough to stop the shift.

        • Plank

          Giambi has 2 bunts in his career.

          June 23 2005 against the Devil Rays (That name is so much better) was to combat the shift.

          I’m not sure about the other one, but it was in 2005, too.

          • Joel

            There you go. Once or twice, like I said. Just call me Elias. ;)

  • gageagainstthemachine

    I just don t want to see him become what Jason Giambi became. That is: Jason Giambi. Homers are great and definitely something expected from him. But Teix was considered a much better hitter overall than this prior to joining the Yankees. A guy pushing .300 (or better) each season, right? I guy who could slug AND hit. In my opinion, you say “the guy was brought into hit home runs”, you ask for Giambi 2.0 and if my memory serves right, Yankee fans were ready to let Giambi walk because that’s all he became good at. And then we got Teix: a guy who could hit, defend, and pop some out of the park. Am I, as a Yankee fan, asking too much out of the guy to once in a while slap one (notice I don’t say bunt) down the 3rd base/left field line instead of swinging into the shift for the fences and popping it up for trying too hard for the short porch? I’m not putting him on the same level as AJ, but I will say there were plenty of times last season I just knew I was going to watch that worthless pop up over and over again knowing it’s coming ahead of time. He doesn’t need an AJ-esque overall, but a good long look at how to be a better overall hitter again would be nice, no? And, by god, if it wouldn’t keep the defense honest and, god forbid, open up some holes for him that are becoming routine line outs, fly-outs, pop-outs, and groundouts as of last season. The man needs some kind of change of approach at the plate. That’s for sure. There. I’m done.

    • pat

      Giambi averaged a .925 ops while he was here. Tex is currently about 50 points lower. I’d be pretty happy if he ended up “only” being Giambi with a glove.

      • Jonathan

        Ya that OPS is built on a badass walk rate and OBP though. Not average.

        • Plank

          Is that bad?

          • Jonathan

            definitely not. Although you could argue the steroid use and era etc I’m not going to pull that card. I’m just saying the machine didn’t want Tex to end up “just” being Giambi 2.0 but there’s little to no chance of that happening. If he stays a .250 or so hitter he won’t have near the wOBA or OPS that Giambi had because Tex’s OBP is more attached to a good not great walk rate and a good not great batting average vs Giambi with a shitty batting average and great walk rate. I was agreeing with you. A .280/.380/.525 hitter with Tex’s defense is a more valuable player but if he’s going to run his batting average down to Giambi territory he doesn’t have the pure ISO/BB% to make up for it.

            By the way, do we know why Giambi went from being a well over career .300 hitter to a .250ish guy so quickly? His BABIP fell like 100 points shortly after becoming a Yankee. Did they just start the shift on him in his second year or what? Fangraphs batted ball data only goes back to his first year with us so it’s of no use.

    • Mike HC

      I agree. Let Jeter teach the guy how to put the ball on the ground the other way. Jeter does it in his sleep. (Jeter probably has little chance of passing this knowledge on to others, unfortunately)

  • James A

    If he can learn to do this (http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play......d=11800721) I wouldn’t mind seeing it a few times, but I’d still rather see this: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play......8;c_id=mlb

  • CMP

    The argument that he doesn’t get paid to bunt is BS.

    On offense, the primary goal is to not make outs. If that means bunting against the shift until he gets teams to stop playing it against him, I think it’s a smart move especially since the Yankees have some good hitters behind him.

    • Rookie

      Exactly, CMP. Exactly. Even David Ortiz does it. And after Texeira does it enough, they’ll have to play him more honestly, which will open up the field for him to hit for a higher average when he bats the way he usually does. It’s win/win.

  • RetroRob

    Anything he does to pull the shift back around is fine. An occassional bunt is okay, but I would be more happy if he just didn’t quite pull the ball so much. That will have more of an impact.

    As for Teixeira announcing his intent to bunt, sounds like he’s just getting the message out to put the thought in opposing teams. He won’t be bunting.

    • thenamestsam

      You said it exactly. Bunting seems like a fine idea to move the shift back around somewhat, but the better idea in my opinion is to work out the kink in his swing that led to him pulling the ball so much more. During the latter stages of last year it looked to me like he was starting to look up the middle more and he did hit a few balls hard to left center. If he can continue that work and start hitting the ball back up the middle a bit he won’t have to worry about the bunting. To me bunting to negate the shift only makes sense as a last resort if he really can’t fix his swing and go back to being the .300 hitter he was a few years ago.

  • jim p

    So do the figures exist to figure out if Tex’s BA/OBP has gone down as the shift is employed by more teams, more often against him in the same period.

    iirc, teams didn’t shift against Mark before he was a Yankee.

    If that’s the case, then bunting/hitting away with any success (say he goes 2 for 7 with it, .286), means the shift gets used more selectively than now. Then, maybe his batting woes decrease. Bunting or not bunting, he’s still going to hit lots of homers when the season is over.

    I say try it. The best way to beat the shift is to make the shift too costly to use.

    • Dropped Third

      +1

      Hes not bunting for singles as much as he’s bunting to help decrease the shift. Then he can go back to doing what he does best.

      • Rookie

        +1

        Exactly, jim p/Dropped Third. Exactly.

        • Tom

          -1

          Bunting only alters where the 3rd baseman plays (and whether he’s at the SS position or closer to the line).

          The problem though is the effectiveness of the shift is not due to the positioning of the 3rd baseman, but the 3 other infielders on the right side of the infield.

          People act like bunting will make teams consider moving back to a standard infield alignment, all it would do is have them change where they put the 3rd baseman.

          I’m all for him doing it occasionally to get on base, but bunting is not going to change teams sticking 3 guys on the right side of the infield, it will simply change where they put the one guy on the left side.

  • monkeypants

    but this is a baseball player who admitted he hadn’t bunted since high school, 14 years ago.

    I’m not the biggest fan of the bunt play, but does this statement strike anyone else as problematic? A major league baseball player, allegedly an elite hitter, and he hasn’t bunted–even practiced bunting–since he was a kid? Seriously?

    • Zack D

      Why is this shocking? If you were his HS or college coach you’d want him to bunt when he’s swinging an aluminum bat?
      And you want him bunting in the minors?

      • monkeypants

        I’d like to think that ML hitters occasionally, you know, practice the bunt play, just in case.

    • Jim D

      Absolutely. If you’re theoretically one of the best 700 baseball players on Earth, you need to have that fundamental skill in your toolbox.

      The argument “when is it wise to bunt” is entirely separate from the argument “should MLB players know how to bunt.”

      • Rookie

        Amen, Jim D/Zack D/monkeypants. Amen.

  • swedski

    Mantle BUNTED! Dimaggio BUNTED! Why is this such a big issue. The shift must have taken away so many hits from Tex that I can’t understand the apprehension. Rizzuto would be rolling over in his grave. He used to teach bunting and it is a lost art. I remember Thurman bunting at times. It is part of the game and a skill that can throw off an opposing teams strategy. Let him try and it will cause all kinds of problems for the opposing defences

    • Mike HC

      Yea, but pinpoint bunting to the opposite field, past the catcher’s reach and pitcher is easier said then done. I think someone that has barely bunted at all in his career is going to struggle with that. Maybe he is a natural at it though. That would be kinda cool to see Tex lay down precision bunts every now and then.

      • m1kew

        “Pinpoint bunting” is not necessary. Because of the shift he has a lot of room to lay one down. If it was Rizzuto, sure pinpoint bunting was a key to success. But even if he bunted it to the shortstop (who plays deep in the shift) he could walk to first.

        I don’t think he will be bunting 20 -25 times. I think, if this is not disinformation, he might bunt once a month … just enough to put that in their heads. He also said he was working on hitting to the opposite field which, if he can do that, will defeat the shift. Teams will have to adjust to cover territory the shift leaves open.

        Baseball is a game of constant adjustments. The question comes down to can Tex enhance his swing yet still maintain power numbers. Other players had this skill … can Tex make the adjustments that make him a more rounded hitter?

        It will be interesting to watch this develop over the first month or so of the upcoming season. If he is somewhat successful it would make a huge difference not only for Tex but for the Yankees offense.

        • Mike HC

          I guess we just disagree on how hard it is to consistently place a bunt hard enough and far away enough from the pitcher for a slow runner like Tex.

          I think the answer is that there is no “beating the shift.” Sure he should try to level out his swing and have the ability to hit it on the ground the other way, or have the ability to bunt, but it is easier said than done. Tex needs to just keep working on what he does best and not let the shift completely change what has been his strengths his entire career.

          • Ted Nelson

            You have to be kidding. His swing has changed. It’s not that he’s doing what he’s always done. He flies way open and upper cuts. I don’t have the platoon spray-chart in front of me, but his swing is visibly different.

            • Mike HC

              What? I just said he should not necessarily worry about “beating the shift” by practicing bunting and hitting grounders to short, but instead to just work on the swing that has made him great his entire career, regardless of the shift. Obviously, that swing needs some tinkering after sliding the past couple of years.

              Not sure how you had such a problem with my comment.

              • Ted Nelson

                “Tex needs to just keep working on what he does best and not let the shift completely change what has been his strengths his entire career.”

                My point is that his strength his entire career is no longer his strength. He flies open and is a dead-pull hitter. I would argue that the extreme shift has come about and been so effective in large part because he choose to change what had been a strength. Not the other way around.

                I don’t think anyone is arguing that Tex should bunt a good % of the time, or at least a very small minority might be arguing that. Ben and others are creating a strawman out of the bunting argument. That’s basically what I read your comment as doing. Dismissing the idea that bunting might be a useful strategy. It might be a useful strategy, especially if he doesn’t fix his effectiveness from the left side.

    • Monterowasdinero

      Mantle drag bunted and when he could run, he was much faster than Tex. Don’t compare Tex to Mantle and DiMagg-it’s embarrassing.

      • swedski

        Nobody is comparing Tex to Mantle or DiMaggio! My point was that they were big sluggers who bunted. It was accepted and understood that you needed to be a complete player. No reason that everyone should hide behind ‘Oh he is paid to hit HR.’ No he is paid to help his team win. If he can keep defences off balance and throw off the shift then do it. It will make him a better all around player and make the Yankees a better team!

        • http://www.teamnerdrage.com dr mrs the yankee

          They had completely different skill-sets from Mark Teixeira aside from pop.

          They also–get this–played in different era from the modern one with different expectations.

    • Rookie

      Amen, swedski. If he can’t bunt, he can make it a skill. At least he better try. To do otherwise (and to not encourage him to try) would, in my view, suggest he and his coaches are dimwitted as hell.

  • Dave203

    What is harder for him to learn: bunting or hitting the ball the opposite way?

    I would think bunting would be a lot harder for someone who has the baseball skill and knowledge to understand how to hit the ball the opposite way. It doesn’t need to be with power, he just needs to “ground out” to 3B or SS. Their shift is usually all the way to 2B.

    I’m complete find with him tearing up their shift every time. As a fan, I love the HR ball. However, if he can break that shift a majority of the time with a single to left, they will stop doing it very quickly. No team wants runners on base, regardless of whether they “took the bat out of his hand” or not. He’s likely going to have Cano hitting after him so let Cano drive him in. This isn’t the Royals — we have hitters up and down our lineup. Baserunners certainly leads to runs.

    • Mike HC

      I was going to comment on the same thing. Seems like it would be easier to just lay the bat on the ball for grounders the opposite way than it would be to perfectly place a bunt for Tex.

      I feel like guys like Ortiz and other shift guys always say they are going to bunt more to beat the shift and it either doesn’t happen at all, or they do it like 3-4 times all season.

    • Mike HC

      A couple of other comments on your post … Tex does hit the ball the other way, but rarely does it on the ground. He does have opposite field power though. And as for the batting order, I think it is more likely Cano will be third, ARod prob fourth and then Tex fifth this coming year (maybe not though, I have no inside word). So it is at possible it will be Swish or Granderson behind him.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Rich

      It was so irritating to watch Tex at the plate with a huge run standing on third with two out. No shortstop to speak of and Tex hitting the ball into the shift or popping out. Just stick the damn bat out and aim a ball to the left side of the infield. We score more big runs, Tex has more RBI’s and a better average and we win more games. Hopefully Long and Tex have worked on this or will work on this in the spring. I’m sure slapping the ball to an empty shortstop position would be more advantageous than bunting and probably easier for Tex as well.

    • Ted Nelson

      The whole reason that we’re in this place is that Tex isn’t hitting it the other way. The answer is to fix his swing so that he’s hitting to all fields. However, that hasn’t happened for two years. Since he has yet to demonstrate an ability to fix his swing… people are suggesting bunting as a plan b. Not an awesome solution. A less bad solution.

    • Jonathan

      I’m sorry but you must not have played baseball. Bunting is extremely easy. All you have to do is literally catch the ball on the bat while having it angled towards the left side of the infield. And it doesn’t need to be a perfect bunt. ANY bunt out of the reach of the catcher to the left is an auto hit. That vs actually doing your entire swing and aiming the ball is a thousand times more difficult. You can bunt anything close to a strike the other way but hitting the ball the other way when it’s pitched inside is tough to do. I mean look at pitchers. Some of the least athletic goofiest guys can get bunts down but they can’t aim a ground ball very well, or even make contact half of the time.

      • Dave203

        I’m sorry, you must not have watched MLB hitters try and bunch that aren’t rookies out of the minors or speed only hitters. 75% of the league cannot bunt without popping the ball up, fouling it off, etc. I’ve played and understand the concept. However, that’s because its actually taught through HS to hitters. MLB don’t work on their bunting. Not many hitters feel comfortable getting that close and personal with a 90+ fastball. Much easier in HS when they are throwing 75-80. If a hitter doesn’t feel comfortable, they’ll never bunt effectively.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    Bunting was a part of the game back in the day as they say but in the game today it appears to be a foreign language. On occasion Teix. laying down a bunt would be appropriate to get a rally going advancing a runner for an important run to win a game. There are many reasons when this could be done.

    I believe its his approach at the plate. He seemingly tries to hit pull every pitch. If he hit the ball to all fields. The opportunity to pull would come on the pitch that could be and should be pulled. The shift would become less of an issue and his batting average, etc. would improve. The homers would remain steady as he would not be giving up multiple AB’s to pop ups with RISP. If he made contact and put the ball in play more often some RBI’s would occur.

    • Jim Is Bored

      I agree that it could be used to get a rally going, but Tex should never be sacrifice bunting. Or at least, very, very, very, very rarely.

  • http://Riveraveblues Austinmac

    Teixiera’s BABIP is significantly caused by the shift. I would say he has at least one hit a week taken away.Anything he can do to help this, I welcome.

  • chcmh

    Bunts are weird anyway you look at them. it’s almost always a guaranteed out, so why go to the plate thinking ‘out.’ Against the shift, yes, the percentage for an out decreases, but then again Tex admits he’s a crappy bunter with little experience, so all this becomes desperation. There’s no way we might expect great success in this ‘tactic..’ Honestly, though I don’t have number to back this up, I bet you could make a case he’d do better just hitting right-handed, forget switch hitting, focus on one side of the plate and his amazing defense. That seems more positive than ‘bunting.’ He’s such a talented hitter, I’d have more confidence he’d figure out a way to close the ‘hole’ in his swing from the right side. Look what Grandy did last year (from the other side)

    • Jonathan

      Okay, he’s hasn’t bunted in a while….but when do you think the last time he hit right handed against a righty was? If you’re talented enough to be a major league baseball player you can get a bunt down to 1/2 of the field. It wouldn’t take very long to learn how to do it either. You say he’s such a talented hitter, well he is. That talent is caused by great hand eye coordination among other things. He’s definitely coordinated to catch the ball on the end of his bat pointed to 3rd base. This isn’t a knock on you or anyone else but I’m pretty sure people saying it’d just be easier to hit right handed all the time or just hit the ball the other way then just getting down an easy bunt haven’t really ever played the game. It’s really not that hard to bunt when they give you 1/2 the field.

  • Monterowasdinero

    I am opposed to bunting for a base hit. I think a change of approach and slapping the ball with a shortened swing (by intention) would produce a better result. By the time Tex squares and puts a bunt down the 3rd base line there is also a pitcher and catcher that could throw him out. Slap a grounder through the infield and jog to 1B. Easier on the hamstrings. Gardy the slapper can teach him.

    • J

      Totally agree with this. Bunting itself isn’t something that is incredibly hard to pick up, but bunting to an area, past the pitcher and catcher’s reach against guys throwing the way they do is difficult. Punching a ball the other way though, that would be the higher percentage play in my mind.

  • Frigidevil

    I have no issue with a player bunting to take advantage of a situation. In fact, I think it’s a great idea to do what you can to take away the shift. That being said, the idea of the slowest player on the team bunting is terrifying. If you’re gonna bunt, for the love of god PLEASE work on your 40 time.

    • Steve (different one)

      If he gets it by the pitcher he can crawl to 1B.

  • Plank

    I think a lot of people are missing the intended benefit of bunting against the shift.

    Yes, getting a few free bunt singles is one small part of it, but the idea is that in the 99% of PA when Tex is swinging regularly, the defense will be regularly aligned to avoid the free bunt single and his BABIP would theoretically rise.

    • Tim

      Any team that would normally shift against Teixeira, but that changes its infield defense in fear of a possible bunt, is managed by a certifiable idiot. Ortiz bunts a decent amount of the time against the shift, and no team stops shifting when he is up. Why would you? When you have a guy who can take you deep, the potential of a bunt single might be considered an acceptable trade-off.

      If you think that laying down a few bunts would cause teams to stop shifting against Teixeira, you are delusional. All it would do would potentially increase his batting average a few points due to the handful of extra hits he might get if he was successful.

      • Plank

        How does one get certified as an idiot?

        • Yank The Frank

          Become a Red Sox fan…it’s one of the perks.

      • J

        Even if they don’t stop shifting, its a free base. I sort of liken it to taking a walk. Really its a matter of whether you want him to keep swinging for the fences, or take the extra free OBP (I know its not given but its a pretty high percentage play to hit a ground ball to one side of the field when no one is there). I’ll take the base any day of the week with this offense.

      • Plank

        David Ortiz has 5 career bunts and 1 in the last 5 years, but what do I know? I’m delusional.

  • Monterowasdinero

    If Tex would hit the ball where it is pitched, he could take better advantage of the shift.

  • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

    Seeing as this isn’t a ‘normal bunt’ I have no problem with it at all…as long as he can do it.

    Now, if he was saying he wanted to drop a bunt down with the defense playing in the normal alignment, then sure this would be dumb.

    I mean think about it, if he can do it, and can get it past the pitcher, no one is throwing him out.

  • CMA

    I think this should be viewed as an easy single opportunity. If the shift is on, however he can get the ball down the left side of the infield (bunt, slap, punch) as long as he can get it past the pitcher is an easy way to get a runner on base.

  • JohnC

    Been saying it for the past year. DOn’t have to resort to bunting. How bout just taking the ball the opposite way? More and more pitchers are getting him out with slow breaking balls and changeups that he is flailing at and swing over trying to pull where if he just put the bat on the ball, he’d have an automatic double cause there is nobody there. Big Papi does it. No reason why Tex can’t do it

  • Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan

    I take no issue with the occasional bunt against the shift. A cheap bunt-single for Teixeira should be treated like a walk with the bonus of a couple of batting average points. However, this idea of bunting against the shift needs to be given some context. When and in what situation is it appropriate for Tex to bunt? For those who feel that Teixeira is being paid to hit HRs, I highly doubt he’ll be bunting in the bottom of the 9th down by 1 run. If Tex can lay down a handful of successful bunts over the course of a season, hopefully that will mean a handful less of those frustrating pop up outs to short.

  • bwolfsohn

    I like this idea… If Tex were the only bat in the lineup, then it would bother me… But, get on-base and pass it along to the next guy works for me.. Especially if he’s good at it, it will screw the shift..

  • TomH

    In 1957 the Reds’ manager, Birdie Tebbetts (sp) used 4 outfielders and no shortstop against Musial, who promptly singled through the hole, as he had done on other occasions when opposing managers thought he suffered from the sort of pride that kept Ted Williams from the same sort of response. It actually took Musial a bit of time to respond to the Tebbetts’ technique (which, as I recall, never became any kind of general practice against Musial), but he did respond.

    I assume that for Teixeira (admittedly, no Musial, but few are), the point is not to become a chronic bunter but to keep the other side honest, or, at least, more honest.

    Yeah, he’s paid to hit HRs, but he’s also not paid to be such a damned sap against the shift.

    Really, does he not know hot to hit occasionally to the opposite field? Must doing so always endanger the purity of his swing (the Williams’ hubris)?

    They’re using this shift against him because it works. It has no downside for them, unless Teixeira learns how to give it a downside.

    • Rookie

      Very well stated, TomH.

      Maybe what people who don’t want Texeira to try to bunt don’t think he’s the smart, complete player that Ortiz is. Maybe they just think he’s stupid and CAN’T learn. Or maybe they like watching him repeatedly hit balls into what should be a hole and see them become outs. Or maybe they’re just dimwitted.

  • bpdelia

    i hate to toot my horn but i was a good ballplayer. all county played for a shitty d1 school. before i filled out i bunted alot and was great at it. then around 11yh grade i grew about three inches gained 25 lbs and my libe drives became xbh. didnt bunt till i struggled in college and when i tried again i lost it. its not easy. at all. think if popups r frustrating? wait till tex pops up bynting and multiple heads here will explide with gray matter oozing from ears.

    i know KNOW that texiera is capable of shortening up and grounding out to short.

    thats what he should do to beat the shift. 95% of those will b hits and many will be doubles. that will end the shift. bunting wont. he will fail spectacularly and every manager will still shift. after a fee 5-3s become doubles however the shift will end.

    • Monterowasdinero

      Totally agree. Bunting will be a nightmare and a new form of Tex popups will torture us all.

    • J

      Yep this is spot on, glad to have an actual ball player chime in. I would be so satisfied the first time Tex hits a worm-burner to third and ends up on second base.

    • Ted Nelson

      Teixiera can hit, but he can’t bunt? I would argue that changing his lefty swing to gain effectiveness after two straight ineffective years is harder than learning to lay down a bunt well enough to direct it to the 3rd base side semi-regularly. Neither is easy… but he’s a big boy. He can learn how to bunt half effectively if he works on it. If he just picks up a bat in a spring training game and tries to bunt for the first time in forever… no, it’s not likely to work. If he spends some time in the off-season bunting (not a lot of time, just some), he should be able to figure it out as easily as his stroke.

      And I don’t think anyone in their right mind would disagree with you that correcting his swing is the best solution. Bunting is more of a plan b if he doesn’t fix his swing. Even without the shift I’d argue that his swing is very flawed. He’s way open. Rather than continuing to waste PAs by pounding it into the shift… lay down a bunt once in a while to catch them off guard.

      The only point your playing experience makes is that bunting isn’t super-easy… but neither is hitting MLB pitching. Others of us played baseball too.

      • Jonathan

        THANK YOU….everyone saying he’s good enough to just hit it the other way but not good enough to bunt it the other way are just blowing their own logic out of the water.

        • Rookie

          Wells stated, Jonathan. I don’t think it could be stated any more clearly or persuasively!

  • Women’s Lib is Ms.Guided

    I thought ‘hit it where they ain’t’ was baseball 101.

    That’s all this is. Most bunting is giving away outs (Jeter sac bunting in the 1st inning) but right now his approach is pretty much the same as giving away outs (stubbornly hitting into the shift).

    • Ted Nelson

      Agreed. The logic of not bunting isn’t that guys are paid to hit HRs. It’s that guys are paid to help the offense score runs. It’s somewhat of a contradiction to oppose sacrifice bunts and oppose bunting to a side of the field where no one is standing.

      • Rookie

        Exactly, Ted. And not to adjust by bunting or poking the ball where the fielders ain’t while David Ortiz and your arch rivals do seems like the height of stupidity.

  • TrollHunter

    I always wondered when Giambi played for the Yankees and now I wonder with Tex, arn’t these guys insulted by the shift? These are superstar players who are given a hole on the left side of the infield big enough to drive a truck through yet they arnt skilled enough as hitters to hit the ball that way? WOW! Its always been shocking to me.

    • Rookie

      I’ve always thought the same thing, TrollHunter.

  • UncleArgyle

    “Teixeira had a .239 BABIP last year. That could indicate that he was largely unlucky”

    Or it means that he’s a dead pull hitter who faces a shift when he hits. Its totally unreasonable to assume a .300BABIP since Tex is facing 3 defenders between 1st and 2nd rather than 2, and he doesn’t use the other side of the field. If anything a .239 BABIP is what you’d expect.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      The rest of the sentence which you intentionally decided not to include in your quote made exactly the point that you just did. Feel better now?

      • UncleArgyle

        or that could indicate that he was simply hitting too many ground balls or pop ups

        It did? wheres the part about the shift? Because that was my point. Relax dude, I wasn’t attacking the article, just saying that the extra defender makes a big difference. No need to get snippy

  • Ace

    Given that he hit 39 HR and played a solid 1B, isn’t it odd that you write “By all accounts, Mark Teixeira had a disappointing 2011 for the Yankees” and then a few paragraphs later state “Mark Teixeira was brought in to hit home runs and play a solid first base.”

  • Ted Nelson

    “the Yanks shouldn’t be messing with his swing after a disappointing season”

    Huh? The swing is the problem… it has to be corrected somehow…

    • Rookie

      Exactly, Ted. If it weren’t broke, you could argue for not fixing it. But it’s clearly broke.

  • David K.

    No one told you to bunt asshole. When they throw you away, hit the ball the other way, stupid! As a right handed hitter, he does use the whole field, which is why he is much better. As a left handed hitter, he has turned into an all or nothing hitter. The shift takes away a lot of potential hits. Either he uses the whole field as a lefty hitter or he will be a .220 lefty hitter the rest of his career.

  • Highland Cow

    Ultimately, Tex’s plan to “beat the shift” with bunts will prove effective solely if he is able to remove the opposing team’s incentive to shift in the first place.

    Sure, it’d be nice to lay down some bunts, advance a runner if the situation presents itself, and up Tex’s batting average. However, if teams are still shifting in the face of successful bunt attempts, then bunting will have done little to help mitigate the shift’s effect on Tex’s effective as a batter.

    • Plank

      You do realize Tex is talking about doing it when no one is going to field the ball, and he will almost certainly get a base hit out of it. He’s not talking about sac bunts to advance runners.

      • Highland Cow

        Right. My qualm is with the definition of “beating the shift”. Tex wants to use bunts. That’s fine. Will teams stop using a shift for Tex if he is able to successfully bunt? I’m dubious.

        • Plank

          I don’t see a downside of the other team allowing him to get a single whenever he wants.

          • Highland Cow

            Sarcasm, I presume. That works out to 4+ hits per game if we assume he Tex wants a hit for every plate appearance.

            Ultimately your argument rests on your ability to show bunting for a hit as a successful strategy for removing a fielding shift. Good luck with that.

            Bunting is a decent short run strategy; however, I doubt it will provide a long run solution. Tex needs to prioritize working on his approach when he swings away instead of admitting that his swing is so messed up that he has to lay down bunts.

            • Plank

              I don’t really know where you’re coming from. I wasn’t being sarcastic. He said he’s planning on bunting when there is an extreme shift. That would lead to a hit when the shift is on, and favorable fielding placement when the shift isn’t on.

              Ultimately your argument rests on your ability to show bunting for a hit as a successful strategy for removing a fielding shift. Good luck with that.

              This is the part that really confuses me. I don’t have an argument. I have to prove something that hasn’t happened yet?

              • Ted Nelson

                What are you talking about? Tex didn’t say that. He said: “Maybe I’ll lay down 20 bunts in spring and see what happens. If I’m 1-for-20, maybe I’ll have to go back to the drawing board.” He didn’t at any point say that he will bunt every time the shift is on. He seemed to imply he’d rather not bunt ever, but might consider it in ST.

                You realize that the P and C can still field even some bunts to the left side with the shift on… let alone the bunts that he fails to place well. Even with the shift on you’re not going to get a hit every time you bunt by a long shot.

                Highland Cow’s point is pretty obvious. Every bunt will not be a hit. Teams might prefer to just let Tex try to bunt than to come out of the shift.
                (I agree with Highland Cow that bunting isn’t necessarily going to end the shift or return Tex to his previous level of success in and of itself. I think it’s more of an occasional strategy and a plan b if he continues with the same ridiculous LH swing again next season. Plan A should be fixing his swing.)

                • Rookie

                  Why not do BOTH? Fix his swing AND poke or bunt the ball to where the fielders aren’t when they use an extreme shift.

                • Plank

                  What he said directly before what you quoted was “If I can lay down a few bunts, beat the shift a little more the other way, then I’m right where I need to be”

                  Why didn’t you include that part? Oh, right, because it shows I was right.

                  The part you quoted was him saying, if I suck at it, I won’t do it in actual games though. That would imply that his current plan is to use it in games.

                  I thought you were to busy to quote things. Or is that only made up things that you are unable to quote?

              • Highland Cow

                By “your argument” I meant the counterpoint in each of your comments to this post. You have a lot of faith in a bunt hit’s ability to stop a shift. Why is that? I understand it qualitatively, but do you have any specific examples or quantitative evidence to back this up?