Home Runs Are Not Evil: Small Ball Vs. Long Ball

Chris MurphyAnalyst IJuly 22, 2009

CHICAGO - JUNE 28: Gordon Beckham #15 of the Chicago White Sox lays down a bunt in the 6th inning against the Chicago Cubs on June 28, 2009 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Teaching small ball to a baseball player is like teaching track to someone in a wheelchair: utterly useless.

No one should ever try to persuade a baseball player to play small ball.

"Small ball" comes in desperate situations, but should not be overused. Why bunt when you can get a hit or take a walk? Why steal when the man at the plate can hit or take a walk?

Teams who win World Series do it with pitching, defense, on-base percentage, and home runs not steals and bunts.

Steals and bunts should only be used when a team wants to settle for one run late in a game. Why waste outs to get one run otherwise?

Being from Chicago, I have heard the words "small ball" as much as anyone else if not more due to the 2005 Chicago White Sox.

Don't tell the small ball backers, but the secret which no one seems to know or understand is the 2005 Chicago White Sox were fifth in baseball in home runs, while also being fourth in stolen bases, leading baseball in being caught stealing, and 26th in on-base percentage.  They were 15th in sacrifice bunts.

The White Sox were third in ERA in 2005 behind two of the final four teams left standing, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros.

In 2004, the Red Sox were 21st in stolen bases, and last in sacrifice bunts, while they were fifth in home runs, first in on-base percentage, and 11th in ERA.

In 2007, the World Champion Red Sox were 15th in stolen bases, second to last in sacrifice bunts, and 18th in home runs.  They were second in on-base percentage and ERA, however.

In 2008, the victorious Phillies were second in home runs, fourth in stolen bases, fifth in sacrifice bunts, sixth in ERA and 15th in on-base percentage.

I still do not consider the 2006 Cardinals to be real champions.

What won these teams the World Series was not bunting and stealing, although that played a small part in their success, but rather their home runs, pitching, defense, and on-base percentage.

I do not completely denounce bunting nor stealing, but just never see the point early in a ball game. If you build a team that gets on base consistently then there is no need to bunt or steal.

If every player on your team can take walks and hit the ball consistently then why ever waste an out on a bunt or steal attempt?

I see the reasoning when one run will be the difference-maker in a game.

Say if the lead-off man gets a double in the eighth inning of a tie or one-run ball game then I can see bunting him over to third base, but if it's in the third inning then I just do not understand.

There is a reason most players look awful when attempting to bunt. It's because they do not do it often in games unless they are pitchers, who shouldn't be batting in the first place, which is a whole different argument.

Even if the batter somehow executes a bunt moving the runner to second base, that still puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the next two batters to come up with a hit.

Why not just allow all players to bat unless they can consistently bunt for singles?

Yes, double plays can occur, but so could walks, hits, errors, wild pitches, hit batters or even terrible bunts. Bunts and stolen bases are not a certain thing.

Teams should be built to get on base, hit, pitch, and play defense and everything else will fall into place. Anything can happen when a player is allowed to bat unless they are forced to bunt then the only thing that will occur is an out.

Home runs are not wrong, what is wrong is only getting one run out of a home run.