Whether you hit for power, hit for average, or have trouble hitting, you can always help your team in critical situations by laying down a successful bunt. Many players, both novice and experienced, have difficulty laying down a good bunt. If you want to be a complete hitter that can help his team in any situation, you need to spend the time necessary to become a good bunter. Good technique and practice is all that's required to become a quality bunter. You never know when you may be asked to lay down a sacrifice bunt for the team or when a good drag bunt will provide an easy base hit. Prepare yourself during practice as if you are going to be asked to bunt in a critical situation in the next game either for a base hit or to help the team. It really comes down to desire, if you want to become a complete ball player than you will want to work at becoming a good bunter.
Everyone knows about a sacrifice bunt to move a runner along and a squeeze bunt to score a run, but for many teams that's the extent of using a bunt. In this section we'll cover other situations when a bunt can be an effective play.
Runner on First
Late in a game a sacrifice bunt is used to move the runner into scoring position. Early in the game you can combine the bunt with a steal to move a runner to third base. Have the hitter bunt the ball down the third base line. Most third baseman will automatically field the bunt and throw to first. In most cases the runner stealing second will be able to continue on to third. In 12 and under leagues, a drag bunt can be used in place of a sacrifice to achieve the same result as often third base will be left uncovered on the play.
Runner on Second
A good way to get a runner home from second without the benefit of a base hit is to have the runner at second steal third on a bunt. Again, the third baseman will most likely field and throw to first without thinking about the runner rounding third.
A fake bunt can provide an easy steal opportunity for the runner. Watch how agressively the third baseman charges. You may see this is an easy way to steal third.
When to Use a Bunt Play
Most coaches and players will look at the third baseman when trying to determine a good time to bunt. In non-bunting situations where the other team isn't expecting you to bunt, the pitcher and catcher are more likely than the third baseman to field the bunt. A pitcher that doesn't field his position well will be vulnerable to a good bunting team. Add to that a catcher who doesn't move quickly from behind the plate and you have a combination that you can take advantage of. Bunting does two things that I really like. First, it puts the ball in play and as you know when the ball is in play, anything can happen. Second, it puts pressure on the defense. Most bunts are difficult plays that require the defense to act quickly and make good throws.
A Pitcher In A Groove
I really like to use bunting as a way to disrupt a pitcher that is in a groove or is simply overpowering the hitters. The threat of the bunt changes the thinking of the pitcher in much the same way that a baserunner who is a threat to steal can. If a pitcher thinks a bunt is coming he is suddenly concerned with getting off the mound to field and loses some concentration on pitch location. Next time you feel that your team is really struggling to hit or make good contact against a pitcher try the following. Send up your first batter and have him drag bunt. If the batter gets on have the next batter go up and fake a sacrifice until the pitcher throws a strike. Sometimes something as small as that can change the rhythm of the pitcher and the flow of the game.