Indians Prospects Willing To Sacrifice

Coco Crisp ... AL leader in sacrifice bunts.

Much has been made about the Indians' inability to put down sacrifice bunts this past season, but a look at minor-league numbers shows it was that way throughout the organization. The only farm team to really make consistently good use of the tactic was the Class AA Eastern League champion Akron Aeros.

The Aeros put down 59 successful sac bunts. Second baseman Eider Torres had 19 of them to lead the entire organization.

In Cleveland, Coco Crisp led the American League with 13 sac bunts, but the Indians finished seventh overall with only 39 as a team. Ron Belliard had eight, Grady Sizemore five and Aaron Boone four -- which means the rest of the entire squad totaled a whopping nine.

It wasn't much better at Triple-A Buffalo, where second baseman Joe Inglett had 10 of the Bisons' paltry 29 total sac bunts. The Bisons did have 49 sacrifice flies, however, just two fewer than the Indians accumulated. Belliard and Victor Martinez led the club with seven apiece.

Jason Cooper led everyone in the organization with 10 sac flies, getting six of them at Buffalo and four at Akron, where the Aeros totaled 37 of them.

Class A Kinston was fairly proficient at moving runners along, putting down 33 successful bunts and hitting 46 sac flies, while Class A Lake County had totals of 29 bunts and 44 sac flies. Mahoning Valley hitters put down 25 sac bunts and had 16 sac flies, while Burlington batters had only 11 successful sac bunts and 16 sac flies.

Middle infielders such as Torres, Inglett, Argenis Reyes, Ivan Ochoa, Brian Finegan, Chris De La Cruz and Anthony Lunetta were most adept at the practice.

Of course, many players simply are not called upon to give themselves up and bunt a runner over because of their own ability to drive them in with a hit. In Cleveland, Travis Hafner went 486 at-bats without a sac bunt -- but that's no surprise. He's never had one in his career, spanning 1,321 at-bats in the majors and 4,176 in the minors.

Martinez hasn't had one since putting down three successful sac bunts at Class A Kinston at age 21 in 2000. But when he tried one this past June, it instantly led to a victory. In the 12th inning of a 4-4 game in Chicago, Martinez tried to advance the runner with a bunt that was fielded by the pitcher and thrown away for an error. It helped fuel a two-run inning that gave Cleveland a 6-4 win.

Martinez and Hafner, of course, are quite adept at bringing runners home with sacrifice flies as well as base hits. Martinez has 39 of them in his career, including 15 for the Indians. Hafner has 31, including 11 at the big-league level.

Crisp has always displayed exceptional bunting skills. He often bunts for a base hit and has 95 sac bunts in his career -- 32 in 415 games for the Indians and 63 in 690 minor-league games.

INDIANS FARM SYSTEM LEADERS IN SACRIFICES

PLAYER

TEAM

SH

SF

TOTAL

Eider Torres

Akron

19

5

24

Joe Inglett

Buffalo

10

3

13

Argenis Reyes

Lake County-Kinston

8

3

11

Ivan Ochoa

Akron

8

3

11

Brian Finegan

Lake County-Buffalo

6

5

11

Jason Cooper

Akron-Buffalo

1

10

11

Ricardo Rojas

Lake County-Kinston

8

2

10

Chris De La Cruz

Lake County-Kinston

7

3

10

Anthony Lunetta

Lake County-Kinston-Akron

4

5

9

Juan Valdes

Lake County

6

2

8

Rodney Choy Foo

Kinston

2

6

8


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