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Friday, January 28, 2011

Sacrifice bunting - square up for success

Spring training is right around the corner for pitchers and catchers in the Major Leagues.  There are many things I love about this and one of them is you start to see photos and video clips of baseball again.  Since the pitchers arrive first, many of the pictures show bullpen sessions, drills like covering first base, and bunting.  Looking at these photos/clips is a good way for younger players to learn the fundamentals.  That certainly is the case for bunting.

There are different theories as to how batters square to bunt.  Some say square all the way around with your shoulders, hips, and feet squared to the pitcher.  Some say keep your feet still and pivot your hips so just the batter's shoulders are squared to the pitcher.  Basically, you do what your coach wants you to do.  However, if your coach doesn't mind how you do it, here are two things to look for in the spring training photos and then incorporate into your bunting practice.

When bunting to first,
square up to first
Bunt to first, square to first.  When sacrifice bunting to the first base side (as a right-handed batter), move up in the box a little as normal and square your shoulders, hips, and feet at the first baseman.  This allows the batter to angle the bat correctly towards the first base area before the pitcher has even released the ball.  Problems occur when batters try to turn/angle the bat as the pitch is coming in.  Many times the batter fouls off the pitch or bunts it back to the pitcher.  Squaring to first angles the bat correctly without really even trying and allows the batter to concentrate on the pitch as opposed to the pitch and trying to angle the bat correctly at the same time.

Bunt to third, square to the pitcher.  If your goal is to bunt to the third base side then square your shoulders to the pitcher.  This enables the batter to angle the bat correctly so the ball goes to the third base side.  As stated above, the batter does not want to be moving the bat into position as the pitch is coming in.  Squaring the shoulders to the pitcher and angling the bat correctly allows the batter to just watch the ball with no extra bat movement needed as the pitch is coming in.

Note:  Left-handed hitters would reverse this advice.  When sac bunting to third, the lefty would square his body at the third baseman.  When bunting to first, he would square his shoulders at the pitcher.

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