Saturday, March 20, 2021

Hicks says he'll bunt. Let's be blunt. We'll believe it when we see it

The phrase "death by 1,000 cuts" - (believed to originate from the great writer, Taylor Swift) - is seldom invoked in modern baseball. 

"Cuts" are what sluggers take while trying to drive balls all the way to Mars. In this Age of Three True Outcomes, few hitters adjust their Ruthian swings to beat defensive overshifts - to accept a lowly single, rather than chase that epic, tape-measure HR. 

They are the game's best hitters, and their teams win via the ancient art form known as "small ball."  

Nobody confuses Aaron Hicks with the game's best hitters. Last year, he hit .225 - ten points below his career average. His best season came in 2017, when he hit .248 with 27 HRs. 

But but BUT... Hicks yesterday sorta acknowledged this existential threat to his career. He talked of beating the overshifts that turned him from a Nettles to a Pagliarulo. To the Murdoch Post, he talked about - gasp - bunting:

“I’ve  hit [into] the shift way too much to kind of earn respect for it. So I think adding the bunt to my game is definitely going to create some problems.”

On behalf of the Yankiverse, let me say, YES, YES, YOU HAD ME AT 'I'VE...'  

For years now, Yank fans - led by our One True Savior, Mr. John Sterling, driven by Jeep - have hungered for our sluggers - especially in close games, when base runners are critical - to simply "hit it where they aint," a phrase that is believed to stem from the great writer, Taylor Swift.  

Tom Brady has won Super Bowls by throwing passes the defenses were willing to allow. Muhammed Ali won championships by punching where his opponent didn't protect. Why can't ballplayers do the same?

In last year's mini-season, overshifts supposedly robbed Hicks of 11 hits. Change 11 outs into hits, and he finishes at .290 - by far his greatest year. Eleven hits.

Of course, if "ifs" and "buts" were candy and nuts, every player would be Mike Trout. (I believe Taylor Swift wrote that?)

If Hicks truly plans to start bunting, and to drive defenses crazy... BRAVO! But he didn't bunt yesterday. He merely talked about it. Ever been in a bar at 11 a.m. while a toothless guy tells you all he can do with a $100 cash infusion? Well, you get the picture. 

The last bunt Hicks laid down happened last Saturday. It didn't work. 

We have a long way to go. 

But rehab starts by acknowledging the problem: "My name is Aaron, and I make too many outs." 

Today, sir, how about it? March to the plate. Eyeball the pitcher. Take a few mighty warm up swings. Point to the bleachers. Then lay one down...


ranger_lp said...

I vaguely remember one of the Boston Massacre games in Fenway when we got double digits by singles and doubles. I could have envision Billy Martin telling his team that if you tried to hit a home run, I'll fine you $500. Quite a memory...

When will we see a game when every batter 1-9 on a team tries to bunt? That would be fun to watch. Would short circuit the metrics folks brains...

J.P. said...

Why is this all of a sudden a great idea that makes it seem Hicks was the first at person to ever think of it? Oh, look, they are stacking the defense on one entire side of the infield. Why don’t I try to get on base instead of smacking the ball into the area where 7 players are positioned?
What the hell world are we living in where players are just starting to come to this realization? Tex once mentioned that they don’t pay him to hit away from the shift but to hit it over the shift and by extension, over the fence. Well, in the words of the great Peter Griffin, “I’m not paying you to think, hot lips. In fact I’m not paying you at all. (Mimes jump shot) Count it!” Wouldn’t it be great to see a manufactured run? Three bunt singles away from the shift? Score without the equivalent of a spray and pray mentality? The results would probably be for the better and an unintended consequence of this would be Rob Manfred could fuck all the way off forever with his rule changes and we could get back to baseball is god intended it to be played.

el duque said...


DickAllen1964 said...

Hand a guy a few million bucks every year for a good many years, hang a doozy of a floozy on his arm, gift him with a set of shiny new golf clubs and before you know it, he’s thinking all sorts about himself he hasn’t yet realized. Or imagined.

Like: bunting is for guys who can’t hit. (Without coming to the stunning conclusion that HE is one of those guys).

Like: the front office says that sacrificing eleven hits is a fair trade-off to one home run, and that’s why they throw all this money my way.

Like: how will I get any attention on Sportscenter if I’m bunting? I’ll never make the highlights that way!

And my personal favorite: the little guys who wear my jersey in the stands and root for me (the ones who, in his case, don’t really exist) don’t really matter. After all, I’m rich and I don’t need to be concerned with fans.

Imagine how much fun it would be if nine guys came to the plate against the shift and all of them bunted the other way. The sabermetrics people would be in an uproar. And so would we, albeit in a very different way. Imagine how that would play on ESPN. It would spark the beginning of the revolution! People would turn to YES network to watch the fun! Baseball would become worth watching! We would all be happy as hell!

Ah. What am I thinking?

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you what happened...

1) Mike Ford, he who hits metal balls at short right field magnets, lost his job and was sent down yesterday.

2) Bernie's relationship with Tiger Woods niece taught him that you "Drive for show. But putt for dough." Bernie's going to learn to putt.

3) The Yankees, they of men on 2nd and 3rd with less than two outs to no avail, went over the analytics and discovered that runs scored on base hits count just as much as runs scored by the longball.

4) Players are waking up to, and I quote El Duque as I am wont to do early in the AM.

"In last year's mini-season, overshifts supposedly robbed Hicks of 11 hits. Change 11 outs into hits, and he finishes at .290 - by far his greatest year. Eleven hits."

4) The Captain, (That's right I'm advocating that DJ LeMahieu be named Captain!!!!! Whose with me?) showed that going with the pitch, taking what the pitcher gives you and getting an optimal outcome is better than the Three True Outcomes. It's called hitting.

5) So far I've seen a change in Judge's and Sanchez's ABs (Although I expect Gary to regress back to his free swinging ways), and have a sense that the Yankees are going to be smarter this year.

So to misquote John Sterling, "Bunt Bernie Bunt!"

Doug K.

JM said...

Sadly, Phil Rizzuto is no longer around to instruct the players on bunting during spring training. He was a master.

Bunting is fine. Bunting accurately, well, and effectively is what we really need. Anybody can bunt for a non-sacrificial out.

Anonymous said...

Can't bunt from the DL!!!

Anonymous said...

It's not so much bunting that is necessary. It's simply taking what the pitcher (and the defense) gives you. It's situational hitting. The biggest problem with Gary Sanchez (and most of the other Yankees), aside from Sanchez's enormous leg kick, is that they swing for the fences on EVERY SINGLE PITCH. Home runs are certainly necessary to win, but if you swing for the fences on every single pitch, you'll sacrifice 200 points from your batting average. You turn yourself from a .300 hitter into a .100 hitter. The fact that Gary Sanchez can actually hit .147 despite trying to launch a thousand foot home run on every swing proves that he has enourmous talent. Because if I tried to "launch" on every single pitch, I'd go 0 for 1,000. On the other hand, I think I could probably hit .150 if I used my brain and hit situationally. Just swing the bat while using your brains, please.

The Hammer of God

Anonymous said...

@ J.P. I remember reading that about Teixeira. He said they don't pay him to hit through holes, they pay him to hit home runs. I wanted to clock him over the head with a rolled up newspaper. Yes, it's true they don't pay him to hit through holes. They pay him to do whatever it takes to help the team win. Whether it is hitting through holes, hitting home runs, bunting, hitting a ground ball, hitting a line drive, hitting a sac fly, drawing a walk, getting hit by a pitch, or cleaning the fucking bathroom. Whatever it takes to win the World Series.

Paul O'Neill always says that a major league hitter needs to have a few dozen different swings. Besides a home run swing, you need an "emergency" swing, a foul ball swing, a make contact swing, a ground ball swing, a fly ball swing, an opposite field swing, a line drive swing, a first pitch fastball drive the ball swing. Just to name a few.

At some point, maybe about ten years ago, it became the new fangled thing to take a home run swing on every single pitch. I believe the Yankees management actually encourages this brainless approach. They must believe that it maximizes runs scored for the season. Unfortunately, it certainly does not maximize World Series championships.

The Hammer of God

Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside said...

Stanton Judge and Frazier. Gardner for high in base. There ain’t no room for the Hicks that Hicks thought he was. This as monumental as the day I was on my Triumph Bonneville, riding past a mirrored glass building, and realized I was a fat guy. 50 lbs lighter I’m getting laid WAY outta my league. Hicks will pick up 50 pts but he already blew it.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Martin had already self-destructed by the Boston Massacre, ranger, but you are spot on.

That was the glory of that Yankees team. They could win big, and win little. They could nibble you to death with singles and doubles, and whack you with home runs. Not to mention their pitching and defense.

That is, in fact the story of pretty much EVERY championship Yankees team in history—with the exception of maybe the amazing 1961 team.

The advantage of the Yankees was ALWAYS that while teams like the Red Sox played flat-footed, one-dimensional ball, the Pintripers won in every possible way. Sure, they hit a lot of home runs—more than any franchise ever, I think—but they could beat you six ways to Sunday.