Sunday, May 29, 2011

Why emphasize the bunt game?

In all of baseball, both professional and amateur, management and players do not place enough importance on the bunting game; consequently the players cannot execute this phase of the game. The end result of poor fundamentals is the player cannot bunt for base hits nor sacrifice at critical times to get runners into scoring position.

In failing to have a good bunting game players lose the other values of hitting that come from bunting concepts. The threat of the drag bunt keeps the flanks (third and first basemen) playing close to the hitter. This increases the hitter's advantage to drive the ball past them. In sacrifice bunt situations, the good bunters have the ability to slash hit from a bunting stance, once again taking advantage of the drawn-in infield. The ability to drag bunt, sacrifice bunt and slash hit from a bunting stance will increase every player's batting average at least 100 points. I did say 100 points! Coaches armed with a good bunting game have the weaponry to attack and score in adverse weather conditions, wind blowing in, cold and wet weather. The bunting game helps you create offense no matter what the occasion or condition.

Bunting in baseball is as important as blocking in football. In football if you can't block you won't move the football, you won't generate any offense, and you will lose. In baseball, there is a "ho-hum, don't ask ME to bunt" attitude.
In building a house you start with a good foundation. A coach must treat the bunting game as the foundation of hitting and offensive weaponry. There are many aspects of the bunting game, including the drag bunt, the threat of the drag to keep the flanks up, the sacrifice bunt, slash hitting from the sacrifice bunt stance, the safety squeeze and the suicide squeeze. All of these concepts place tremendous psychological pressure on the defense, which can cause havoc with the pitcher and can force errors by the opposing team.

Bill Madlock, former major league all-star, related that the year he won the National League batting championship by one percentage point, he was successful in 22 of 23 drag bunt attempts. This added quite a few points to his batting average. We can only guess how many other balls that he hit went by the drawn-in third baseman.

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