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What steps to take when looking for a bunt hit?

Attempting a bunt hit is not an easy proposition. It requires good baserunning speed, adept concealment of one’s motives until the last possible second, and the right situation where the defense is playing back in a non-bunt defensive scheme..

The necessity of surprising the defense.

The element of surprise is a major component of any successful bunt hit attempt. It is therefore best to utilize the pivot stance. The pivot stance allows you to quickly and easily get into your bunt position without the need to readjust your feet from your hitting stance to your bunt stance – as required when utilizing the square-around bunt stance.

The best aspect of the pivot stance when attempting to bunt for a hit is that it allows you to set-up for the bunt after the pitch has been released toward home plate. By being able to set-up for the bunt quickly and at the last moment, needing to adjust your arms only, makes it more likely you’ll surprise the defense.

You should also move up in the batter’s box slightly to increase your odds of keeping your bunt hit in fair play. After a first failed bunt attempt, the corner infielders are likely to move closer in to a point where bunting for a base hit is not a viable option. So, be sure to take advantage of your first opportunity, because a second chance is unlikely to present itself.

Utilizing the drag bunt vs. the push bunt.

If you’re a left-handed hitter, you have your choice of using either the push bunt or the drag bunt. In most cases you’ll likely want to use the drag bunt technique, though this style of bunting can make it difficult to make contact with pitches on the outer half of the plate.

What steps to take when looking for a bunt hit?

However, when executed successfully, the drag bunt can be extremely difficult to defend against. This is especially true when either the pitcher or catcher picks the bunted ball up on the base line.

With you running down the baseline, the ball “dragging” behind you, your presence has an added effect of blocking the throwing lane of either fielder in their attempt to throw you out at first base. If they’re right-handed throwers, they will either need to throw wide forcing the first baseman to stretch for the ball, or take the time to step into a better throwing lane, giving you an extra second to run through the base prior to the throw.

Right-handed hitters will want to use the push bunt, which can be akin to a swinging bunt. The arms and hands remain still while the body pivots, bringing the bat through the strike zone. Your hands should be in a typical bunting position when using this technique. This technique can be used to hit the ball to either field, though pulling the bunt down the third baseline usually results in a cleaner bunt.

The “no-man’s” zones.

If you’re up to bat and considered a fast runner, the defense is likely to play closer in toward home plate. This will make it difficult for you to succeed in your attempt for a bunt hit. However, if they’re playing back, there are two places in the infield considered the “no-man’s zones”.

If able to place your bunted baseball into one of these zones, it is highly unlikely that any fielder will be able to make the play on you. Unfortunately, the difficulty of bunting the ball into these zones is high.

The no-man’s zones are areas just to the left or right of the pitcher’s mound, and just behind the mound enough that the ball doesn’t reach the dirt infield, but rather stays on the grass. If a bunt is placed into one of these areas, without the pitcher being able to reach the baseball, the shortstop or second baseman needs to make a fantastic play in order to throw you out at first.

To be successful at bunting into this zone, you’ll need to bunt the ball to the side of the mound that the pitcher is falling away from on his follow-through. If you’re facing a right-handed pitcher, you’ll want to bunt to the third base side of the mound. If facing a left-handed pitcher, you’ll want to bunt toward the first base side of the mound. Doing so will make it difficult for the pitcher to turn and make a play on the ball.

If attempting to bunt it into a no-man zone, you must be sure to make contact with the ball with enough oomph to get the baseball past the pitcher and the pitcher’s mound. Not doing so will result in an easy out on a throw from the pitcher to the first baseman.

In fact, the best time to attempt a bunt hit is often in late game situations in close ballgames, where the defense is playing farther back and guarding the lines against extra base hits. This cautious approach by the defense is exactly the kind of opening you need to take advantage of.