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Baseball tips – learn about the safety squeeze

Elvis Elvis

The safety squeeze, along with its cousin (the suicide squeeze), is one of the most exciting, although rarely seen, plays in baseball. Essentially, a bunt play is called by the offense with a runner on third base. If the bunt is put into play, the runner at third base makes a mad dash for home plate in an attempt to score.

With the fielders needing to make a quick play, the bunter hustling down the first base line, and the runner from third speeding toward home, all the action takes place in a very small area out in front of home plate – making the safety bunt an exciting bang-bang play.

The best time to utilize the safety squeeze.

The safety squeeze is used almost exclusively in late game situations where a single run is needed to take the lead, tie the game, or win the game. It is most often used when the team at bat has zero or one out, as there is a very small chance the bunter could be thrown out at first prior to the run scoring. However, when looking to win the game, the safety squeeze can be in play at any time.

Like the suicide squeeze, the safety squeeze is best executed with a right-handed hitter at the plate. This is due to the fact that a right-handed hitter naturally obstructs the third base view from the catcher. This may give the runner a few added steps toward home prior to the catcher picking up the fact that the safety squeeze is on. Having the right-handed hitter at the plate can also impede with the catcher’s throwing lane toward third.

Baseball tips   learn about the safety squeeze

Risks associated with the safety squeeze.

When executed properly by the offense, the safety bunt can be nearly impossible to defend against, as the fielders must execute their defense flawlessly. However, the safety bunt does have its elements of risk. For example, the runner on third base may become overzealous and advance too far down the line. If the hitter misses the bunt, the runner is then a sitting duck … giving the catcher an easy chance to pick him off for an out.

The pitcher may also sense the safety play and attempt a pick-off play at third prior to pitching toward home plate. If the runner again is overanxious – taking too big a lead – he could easily be sent back to the dugout.

Executing the safety squeeze.

If called upon to execute the safety squeeze, you’ll want to use the pivot stance in an effort to surprise the fielders, leaving the corner infielders farther back from the play at home. The runner at third should advance farther down the third base line on the pitch than he normally would – typically mid-way to home plate.

As the bunter, you have to make a decision on whether the pitch is one that you can put into play, and do so to a good location away from the closest fielder. If not, let up on the pitch, letting the umpire call it a ball or strike. The runner should not take off for home unless you make contact with the pitch, so no need to make things difficult attempting to bunt a bad pitch.

Naturally, you should attempt to lay the bunt down in the direction of the corner infielder farthest from the play. Typically, the corner positions will play at the same depth from home plate either in an attempt to cut the run down at home on the bunt, or slightly back, conceding the run in an attempt to stay out of a big inning by throwing you out at first.

The runner.

The runner should wait for the baseball to be bunted before running (this is the primary difference from the suicide squeeze bunt). He should first see that the bunt gets down, and secondly in what location the baseball has been bunted.

Once taking both factors into consideration, the runner then has the option to attempt to run home on the play, or stay at third. Unless the bunt is popped up, or put down in a very poor position (such as straight back to the pitcher or directly in front of the plate with no power) the runner at third is likely to attempt to score, forcing the defense to make a play.

If the runner chooses not to run home, it is probable that you’ll be thrown out at first by the defense in a straightforward bunt attempt.