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Baseball Tips – charging bunts when playing third base

Elvis Elvis

The third baseman has to take the role of leader when charging bunts. Your responsibility as the third baseman is to field any bunt you can reach.

You will have help, as the pitcher, catcher, and first baseman will be secondary options to field the bunt if you can’t reach the baseball before they do. But, don’t hesitate to execute a full charge toward home on any bunt attempt because you are the number one preference.

The reasons why you’re option number one when charging bunts.

Other than the catcher, when you charge hard down the third baseline as the third baseman, you have the best chance to quickly make a throw to one of the bases on any bunt attempt. The reason being that both first and second base are off to your immediate left, so a quick spin in the counter-clockwise direction will put you in line to throw the ball.

This is in contrast to both the pitcher and the first baseman, where their throws will require upwards of a 180-degree turn to throw to either first or second.

The catcher is an alternative fielder when everyone is charging bunts, not because of his vision of the field or his direct throwing lanes, but because of the time it typically takes him to get out of his crouch to field the bunt. This is in contrast to you being given the chance to position yourself specifically for the bunt, often times well before the pitch is even thrown.

Baseball Tips   charging bunts when playing third base

Option number one, yes, but still needing to receive guidance from your teammate.

While you may be the primary choice to field the ball, you are not necessarily the “field general”. That distinction remains with the catcher, as he is the only player on the field that can see the entire field at all times.

When charging bunts , listen to what your catcher is yelling. Communication during this time among the catcher, pitcher, first baseman and you is critical. The catcher will be the one with the best view of what’s happening on the base paths and he’ll be giving guidance as to where you should throw the ball, or who should field the bunt because of the throwing angles.

If the play is to try to get the lead runner at third base, it is probable that the catcher will call for either the pitcher or first baseman to field the bunt, as that is the one base they have a better throwing angle than you. Other than that, anticipate having your name called if you can reach the ball quickly.

Where to setup for the bunt.

When preparing for a bunt attempt, you’ll want to be positioned somewhere between the edge of the grass and the mid-point of home to third, depending on the situation.

Most times, when the bunt is possible, you’ll want to be positioned at the farther edge of that range. Being farther back from home plate gives you more flexibility and a better chance at making a play if the opposing team were to surprise you with something other than a bunt.

A situation that warrants tight bunt coverage includes times when the opposition may attempt a safety or suicide squeeze bunt. You may also need to play close during late, game critical, situations where it is apparent the hitting team will rely on the bunt to move a runner over into scoring position.

Bunt coverage techniques for charging bunts.

As the bunt is laid down, quickly approach the ball using a banana route. This path will allow you to use your forward motion as momentum on any throw.

When charging bunts, keep the baseball on the side of your body where you wish to field the ball. This bunt coverage will depend on how much time you have to field and throw the ball. If you have time, use your glove as you approach from your glove-side because you’ll be less likely to drop the baseball. If you don’t have a lot of time, you’ll need to resort to picking the baseball up with your throwing-hand and releasing it in one fluid, likely sidearm, motion.

When charging bunts along the baseline where it is unlikely you’ll be able to throw out the runner, let the ball roll rather than picking it up. Rather, follow the bunted ball down the baseline. As soon as it rolls foul, pick the ball up.

The rational on this bunt coverage is that the hitter laid down a good bunt and there is little you can do to force the out. Rather than picking the ball up in fair territory and assuring the batter a base hit, give the baseball a chance to roll foul.

The runner is unlikely to attempt second base, not with you standing over the baseball ready to scoop it up at a moment’s notice. If the ball hits a rock, or the ground is graded so that it slopes toward foul territory, you just might get lucky and see that bunt roll foul, sending the hitter back to the batter’s box.