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Baseball Bunt Guide

bunting in baseball

The bunt is the most selfless play in baseball and, if done correctly, can help your team “manufacture” a run. Bunting involves intentionally getting yourself out in order for a runner on base to advance. Here, we’ll explore the correct way to bunt, the various types of bunts, the right situation to bunt and the rules for bunting.

How to Bunt in Baseball (Sacrifice)

The objective to bunting is to deaden the ball as it hits your bat. You want the ball to roll away from the catcher and toward either the first or third baseman. However, you don’t want the ball to roll too quickly, or else the fielder might have enough time to throw out the runner you’re trying to advance.

Step 1

From your batting stance, you’ll want to get into bunting position when the pitcher starts his or her pitching motion. Hold the bat at the base of the barrel with your right hand, making a “thumbs up” signal. Your thumb should hold the bat against your index finger. Your left hand will be the one stabilizing the bat, so keep your grip the same and move your hand up to the top of the bat’s handle. This will give you better control of the bat.

Step 2

As the pitcher is about to release the ball, crouch as if you’re going to take a knee, but don’t actually touch your knee to the ground. Hold your bat parallel to the ground with the barrel angled slightly toward the catcher. From this position, you can decide whether to attempt the bunt or take the pitch. If your bat is angled so it’s even with the plate and the pitch is out of the strike zone, the umpire will rule that you attempted a bunt and call a strike.

Step 3

When you’ve decided to bunt, you’ll want the ball to go either toward the first or third baseman. If you’re a right-handed hitter, angle the bat so it’s parallel with the first base foul line to get the ball to the third baseman. Or, angle the bat parallel with the third base foul line to make the ball go toward the first baseman. As the ball is about to hit the bat, pull your bat slightly backward, as if you’re trying to catch the ball with it. This creates the deadening effect you want.

Types of Bunts in Baseball

There are three types of bunts a hitter should know, and each is useful in various (different) scenarios. You’ll need a good bunting form to master all three, so when you’re just starting to learn, the sacrifice bunt is the only bunt you’ll need to know.

  • Sacrifice Bunt. This bunt is meant to advance base runners from one base to the next, most commonly from first base to second. This bunt serves two purposes: first, the runner will be in scoring position for the next batter and, second, the possibility of a double play can be avoided.
  • Squeeze Bunt. The squeeze bunt only occurs when a runner is on third base with less than two outs. The batter will bunt while the runner takes off for home. If executed properly, the defense will be forced to allow the run to score while throwing the hitter out at first base.
  • Drag Bunt. Also known as “bunting for a hit,” the drag bunt is hardest to execute because you have to wait until the last possible moment to actually bunt. Instead of getting into bunting form when the pitcher is winding up, you have to start your bunt when the pitcher is releasing the ball.

When to Bunt in Baseball

In baseball, bunting is considered to be giving the defense an out, so a bunt really should only be attempted with less than two outs. Also, keep in mind that you should be bunting with runners on base, with the intention of making it easier for them to score a run.

When to Sacrifice Bunt

Sacrifice bunts should occur with a runner on first, or runners on first and second, and less than two outs.

When to Squeeze Bunt

The squeeze bunt should only be attempted with a runner on third and less than two outs. If there are two outs, the defense can easily throw the batter out at first and end the inning.

When to Drag Bunt

Drag bunting should only be attempted by hitters who are fast runners and expert bunters. The point of the drag bunt is to catch the defense by surprise, and you’re creating a scenario where the other team will have to make a difficult play in order to throw you out at first.

General Rules for Bunting

  • Any ball bunted into foul territory that isn’t caught before it hits the ground will be called a strike. If the ball rolls foul before passing first or third base, and a defender doesn’t touch the ball when it’s in fair territory, it is a foul ball.
  • Any ball bunted into foul territory with two strikes will be considered strike three, and the batter will be called “out.” This rule only applies to bunting, because if you hit the ball foul while swinging (or checking your swing) with two strikes, the pitcher will throw another pitch.
  • After a bunt, if the bat touches the ball in fair territory, the umpire will call the play dead and the runners won’t be allowed to advance.
  • The infield fly rule doesn’t apply to bunts, should the bunt be popped up.
  • If a hitter successfully completes a sacrifice bunt, the at-bat doesn’t count and, therefore, the out doesn’t count against his or her batting average.

Bunting is a strategic play in baseball that can be used to successfully advance a team into a winning position. When done well, it can be just the play a team needs to change the entire course of the game.

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