(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeAnalysts.)
As Moshe Mandel covered in detail yesterday afternoon, Brett Gardner has made improving his bunting skills a priority during spring training. Hopefully, that means more drag bunts for base hits and not maddening sacrifices when the team can ill afford to give away an out. Unfortunately, if history is the judge, it could be more of the latter.
Over the past two seasons, Gardner ranks second on the team in sacrifice bunts, one behind Francisco Cervelli, who should probably bunt more often considering his less than potent bat. Despite being second, however, Gardner’s 11 sacrifice bunts really aren’t all that many. In fact, considering how often Girardi is criticized for employing the sacrifice, the total number for each player is surprising low (especially Derek Jeter’s five). Perception is hard to overcome, but the truth is the Yankees have ranked toward the bottom of the American League when it comes to sacrifices in all three seasons that Girardi has been manager.
Yankees’ Sacrifice Bunt Leaders, 2009-2010
A look at the Yankees’ all-time leader board for sacrifice hits also reveals some interesting facts. We all expect Phil Rizzuto to rank high on that list (he’s third with 193), but Bob Meusel, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri and Babe Ruth all in the top-15? So much for Murders’ Row! Incredibly, the 1927 Yankees, which scored 200 more runs than the league average, managed to also sacrifice 204 times. Although that number was in keeping with the norm of the era, it still is pretty amazing to imagine such a potent lineup laying down so many bunts. Just think how many runs that lineup could have scored if not for all those wasted outs!
Yankees’ All-Time Sacrifice Bunt Leader Board