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How Important Is Bunting for Craig Counsell and the Milwaukee Brewers?

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May 4, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell watches the game against the Los Angeles Angels in the sixth inning at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
May 4, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell watches the game against the Los Angeles Angels in the sixth inning at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Milwaukee Brewers are on a different playing surface in 2016 and willing to try new strategies, but how important has some of the basics like sacrifice bunts been for manager Craig Counsell so far?

JSOnline had a short article up about how Craig Counsell isn’t the biggest fan of bunts thus far in the 2016 season, but it was a bit different in 2015. Although, Ron Roenicke was a part of the team for 25 games in 2015, not much changed as far as the Milwaukee Brewers continuing to be up towards the top in the Sacrifice Hits (Sacrifice Bunts) category.

Thus far, Jonathan Villar is the only non-pitcher with two Sacrifice Hits (SHs) this year even after a week the JSOnline article was written. But, was it Craig Counsell who decided to hold back on bunting or GM David Stearns?

Looking back at last year’s numbers, the Milwaukee Brewers tied for 4th with the Washington Nationals with 55 SHs, with their divisional rivalry, the Pittsburgh Pirates just above with 63. Position players like Logan Schafer, Jean Segura, Hernan Perez, and Shane Peterson all had at least 3 SHs.

But, compared to a full season under former manager Ron Roenicke, it was quite a drop off. The Milwaukee Brewers were near the lead in SHs with 70 (3rd in NL) in 2014. Position players like Jean Segura (10) and Scooter Gennett (8) certainly added to the category.

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Thus far, the Milwaukee Brewers have held back much more on SHs as narrowing down in the National League, they’re tied for 10th with 9 with two other teams. They’re the lowest in all the NL Central division thus far. A division rivalry, the Pittsburgh Pirates (surprise!) are tied at the top with the Atlanta Braves with 12.

Although, it’s very early, it may be a sign of things to come as David Stearns’ numbers in the past indicate he’s not the biggest fan of SHs himself. It’s very difficult to say where he stands on a topic like this being in the American League with the Houston Astros for a number of seasons as the assistant GM, but if going back to last season has any sign, they weren’t any fan of SHs themselves. They fell right in line with where the Milwaukee Brewers are at now as they were 10th in the American League with 28.

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If the Milwaukee Brewers could bring back a speedy, lead-off hitter like Nori Aoki, the numbers might be a bit more mixed up and I really couldn’t try to prove a point. But, for now, if David Stearns and Craig Counsell are doing much like they’re doing with defensive shifts, they’ll do the same with SHs for the full season and be on the low end of the leaderboard in the National League.

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