Gleeman: Where have all the bunt hits gone?

From SABR member Aaron Gleeman at Baseball Prospectus on April 17, 2019:

MLB defenses have used a shift in 23.8 percent of all plate appearances this season, which is by far the highest rate in baseball history and nearly twice as many shifts as the 12.1 percent that were used just two seasons ago. Many of those shifts are of the extreme variety, with alignments featuring zero defenders on an entire side of the infield rapidly becoming commonplace. Those extreme shifts leave huge swaths of the diamond uncovered in such a way that laying down even a marginally successful bunt would lead to a hit, yet bunt hits are at an all-time low.

Of course, sluggers have never been responsible for a large number of bunt hits, so the fact that Joey Gallo, Bryce Harper, and their ilk are continuing to swing away when confronted by extreme shifts can’t really be blamed for the MLB-wide drop in bunt hits—equivalent power hitters from decades past didn’t go hunting for 50-foot singles either. However, the light-hitting speedsters who did populate bunt-hit leaderboards for much of baseball history are an increasingly endangered species, and the few who remain are generating less of their limited offense via dropping down bunts.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: April 17, 2019. Last Updated: April 17, 2019.