If you follow baseball at all, you know the topic of the bunt can quickly turn into a heated discussion. Typically, there is two schools of thought when it comes to the topic of bunting the baseball to advance runners. There are those that think there is no place in the game for giving up an out to advance a runner 90 feet. The #stopbunting crowd likes to cite run scoring probablility if you let players swing away and the disadvantage of giving up an out to play for one run. There is the other camp that advocates heavily for using the bunt to advance runners. Often times, those in this camp are bunting the runner over from 1st to 2nd or 2nd to 3rd base every time the leadoff runner gets on base.
While these are the two extremes, there are several coaches who fall somewhere in between. The point of this post is not to get into my personal thoughts on when it is the right or wrong time to bunt because there is a lot of variables that goes into those decisions. What I will say is this, at the youth, high school, and college levels, baseball is a different game than the Major Leagues, and there is certainly a time and a place to get the bunt down.
There are a few key things that must happen to get a bunt down and a job done when the situation calls for it:
- Get the bat flat and at the top of the zone
- Get the bat into three pieces
- Sit down, feet flat and get your eyes behind the ball
- Keep the barrel out in front of your body
- Bunt Strikes
Need a visual? How about some help from last year's American League MVP, Mike Trout.
What a great pic! This image is how it's done and should be burned deeply into your corneas. When done correctly, and the ball is bunted 30-60 feet down the third or first baseline and within 2-3 feet of the chalk, a ton of pressure is created on the defense.
The problem is when the five things mapped out above are not executed, the ball gets bunted right back at the pitcher, popped up in the air, or bunted just barely in front of the plate for an easy out. As soon as that happens, the #stopbunting advocates will be out in full force and rightfully so!
If you mis-bunt a ball, it should be down and foul. Never...I repeat never within 2-3 steps of the pitcher or popped up in the air. Even on a "sac" bunt, your goal should be to bunt the ball in the pressure zone 30-60' down the line described above. Even if you do not have the fastest of wheels, you may be rewarded with a base hit or reach base on an error.
Again, I am not advocating for a bunt every time the lead off runner gets on base. What I am advocating is that we #stopbadbunting. Coach Mishler went with #changethecultureofbadbunting when he saw this pic on Twitter earlier today. Either way, when you get the opportunity to work on your bunting game in the cages or in practice, take it seriously!
Get yourself in the same position as Mike Trout and have a mindset that you will get good at this part of your game. If you do, it can be a great weapon.