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Hitting - Bunting
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Hitting - Bunting

QBunt Confusion

My 12 yr old son played on a select travel team this past season. The head coach confused me with some of his coaching decisions. One particular decision sticks to my mind... almost to a point of irritation. Situation: Runners on 1st and 2nd, less than two outs. The coach would call out to the 3rd baseman to "Stay home on a bunt. Pitcher, you have 3rd base side on a bunt, 1st base, you are charging, 2nd base you have 1st base bag." Now, as a player and coach, I do not agree with this statement. Is this accurate? Should the 3rd baseman "stay at home" on a bunt? Or should SS cover 3rd while the 3rd baseman charges? I can understand 1st base staying home on a bunt, but the 3rd baseman? Am I dating myself and showing my age?

AA lot of teams do it this way. It all has to do with who is holding the runner at 2nd - SS or 2B. If SS is holding then no way he can get to 3rd ahead of lead runner. If 2B is holding then no way that he can get to first when 1B charges. The difference between youth and pro ball is the pitcher. In youth leagues pitchers are often all-around stars - could also play SS, be a great hitter, etc. So he is a good choice to field - on the third-base side or else covering at first. This leaves 3B to "stay home". It also has to do with the uncertainty of getting the batter-runner at first - of getting at least one out. If 2B is holding and SS wheels to third when 3B charges, then 1B may have to retreat to his bag quickly and pitcher has to also get over there in case - not always pretty.

QBunt Defense at 3rd

I coach a 12U travel team and am debating on the best bunt defense when there
is a runner on 2d base. If the 3d baseman charges, I don't believe the SS can
get to 3d base in time in case the runner is stealing (batter was only fake
bunting). The other option is have the 3d baseman stay close to 3d base and
instruct the Pitcher to cover the 3d base side for bunts, with the risk that the
batter can bunt for a base hit (especially with a lefty pitching).

AThat's why the games are played - nothing is ever a sure thing. This is a fun
situation from so many angles. In terms of technique and position, the short
stop should be playing ahead of the runner on a wheel defense (third charging)
and SS needs to break for the bag as soon as first indication of bunt. A smart
offensive team will try to fake bunt to draw the fielders at the same time the
runner goes - tough to time right on both sides. That said, priority generally
is given to get the lead runner. So keeping third protected is a better option -
if it matters whether that lead runner is held at 2nd or advances to third.

But there are other factors. For example, with none or one out, a runner who
gets to third can score on a flyball. However the offense is taking a greater
risk with one out - if the bunt doesn't work then it's 2 out. With none out,
less risk. So consider your defense in that context. With one out - third
charges the bunt - getting the out is a priority. With none out - protect the
bag at third, keep the lead runner at second or get him out on the steal.

Then again, offense should not want to try for third with the risk that you will
get the first out at third. (Being at second is being in scoring position.)

Finally, consider the score - how important is that runner getting to third - in
a close game it might be worth the offensive risk and therefore protecting third
could kill their important inning.

As I said, all the possibilities are what makes baseball so much fun between
pitches.

QHigh Risk Bunt

But here is the scenario... 3rd inning we are down 7 runs, no outs, runner on 1st. 1st bunt attempt rolls foul. 2nd bunt attempt foul. Pitcher has thrown nothing but breaking balls all game. Still calls for bunt on 3rd strike?? My son talked to the Coach after the inning and asked why he had him try a 3rd bunt and got the answer it was a high percentage play. Your feeling on that call?

AYikes! This is high risk not high percentage. Down by 7 runs, you need baserunners without giving up outs. Unless the batter has never put the bat on the ball, I would rather see a hit and run, hitting behind the runner in the gap that is created. I would never want to call for a sacrifice here. But that's just me. Neither is really a high percentage play. But with breaking pitches, the chance of popping up the bunt is much higher. and after 2 failed attempts, the batter's confidence is shot. And the chance of hitting to right field is much better. Even a ground out produces the result of getting runner to second - which a bunt foul does not (runner still on 1st now with 1 out). I think it was over-coached.

QIs it a Bunt?

What constitutes a bunt rather than a punch swing or slap hit, especially on 3rd stike?

AIntriguing question. After discussion here we have concluded that if the hands separate it is considered a bunt. So any swing in which the top hand moves up even part way up the handle is a slash bunt and therefore an out if it goes foul. Then again I'm sure we'll get some other opinions or stories on this.

QPercentage Bunt

Coach, what is the philosophy of bunting with 2 strikes. My son's High School JV Coach had him bunt with 2 strikes, no outs and a runner on 1st.

AIt might have been a call based on the score in the game, the importance of getting the runner to second, etc. It is a high risk play but sometimes pays off. I have called a 2 strike bunt.

QRunner on First

With a runner on first, I usually have my middle-infielders playing at double-play depth, but my second basemen have trouble getting over to cover first in time to receive a throw whenever a bunt is laid down. Any suggest on how to defend the bunt with a runner on first and how should I play that second baseman?

AFirst an observation... that's why baseball works... because for every move you make, they can have a counter move. To be honest we're not sure we understand the geometric value of "double play depth".

We pull both fielders closer to 2nd. Why? So we expect that with a runner on first the batter is more likely to hit up the middle? In truth it is only with the hope that the ball will take 2 seconds to go from bat to glove and that the toss to second will take 1.5, that the other fielder will be there in plenty of time, and that therefore the runner who needs 4 seconds to get to second will be out. Of course, if the ball isn't hit directly at the middle infielder, if the fielders have to move farther latterly, they have less chance to get to the ball at all and so the play breaks down.

The bunt is just a variation on the "takes longer for ball to get to the glove" part of the equation. The decision to go to "double play depth" or to defend against the bunt will depend on what you know of the other team's players - or more importantly their coach. Now, by playing closer to second, the non-ball-catching fielder does have more time to get to the bag for the first leg of the double play.

The catch however, is that you want to defend against the bunt. No matter how far off second a middle infielder plays he is still generally closer than where the base runner starts from, so his running distance is still less. Therefore not cheating too much towards second will allow him to play the hit or go to second when the hit is to shortstop, or first on a bunt, as needed. Of course, there is always the chance that the other team will try a hit-and-run. As I said: that's why baseball works.

QSqueeze Plays

MY friend and myself were arguing in a situation with a runner on third, one out, and the game on the line. Would you have the next batter bunt the ball or have him try to hit it?

ADepends on the batter but overall chance of a hit 30%, chance of a long fly ball to score the runner maybe 40% or better (depending on batter), chance of a successful bunt maybe 50%. So I might bunt. But a squeeze does put both runner and batter at risk, so do you want 2 out with a runner at first, or 2 out with no-one on. No guts, no glory. As it happens we lost a recent tournament game just that way. They had runners on 2 and 3 and so we loaded the bases by intentional walk. They tried the squeeze and we got the out at the plate. But bases still loaded and we threw it away on a wild pitch. Baseball is never a sure thing.

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