Trying to Turn Brett Gardner into Another Babe Ruth?

(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog).

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

Player SH G PA
Francisco Cervelli 12 135 418
Brett Gardner 11 258 853
Nick Swisher 6 300 1242
Derek Jeter 5 310 1455
Ramiro Pena 5 154 288
Curtis Granderson 4 136 528
Melky Cabrera 4 154 540
A.J. Burnett 2 66 8
Andy Pettitte 2 53 11
Javier Vazquez 2 31 5
Johnny Damon 2 143 626
Jerry Hairston 2 45 93

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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

Player SH G PA
Wally Pipp 226 1488 6341
Willie Keeler 211 873 3792
Phil Rizzuto 193 1661 6711
Roger Peckinpaugh 190 1219 5269
Hal Chase 145 1061 4466
Bob Meusel 143 1294 5544
Aaron Ward 128 908 3565
Tony Lazzeri 115 1659 7058
Joe Dugan 107 785 3328
Lou Gehrig 106 2164 9660
Bobby Richardson 98 1412 5783
Gil McDougald 97 1336 5395
Roy Hartzell 95 699 2807
Babe Ruth 94 2084 9198
Frankie Crosetti 90 1683 7273
Herb Pennock 88 346 910
Wid Conroy 81 796 3300
Jimmy Williams 80 940 3934
Derek Jeter 79 2295 10548
Willie Randolph 75 1694 7465

Source: Baseball-reference.com

One thought on “Trying to Turn Brett Gardner into Another Babe Ruth?

  1. Larry Dexter

    During 1927, sacrifice flies were not listed separately, and were included in the sacrifice hit category. To count as a sacrifice, a caught fly ball had to score a run, which is more restrictive than current rules. I’ve been trying to find some estimates or counts of sacrifice bunts by Ruth and Gehrig during 1927 without much luck.

    I may go through the box scores this year to see if Ruth and Gehrig did lay down any sacrifice bunts.

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