Baseball Magazine

The Push-bunt (Part 1)

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
When a right handed batter bunts for a base hit, you'll usually see him direct the bunt down the third base line.  There are a number of situations that call for this kind of bunt and a variety of little things associated with doing it correctly.  What you don't see much of at any level is the push-bunt.
The push-bunt is a base-hit bunt from a right handed hitter that is directed towards the first base side of the field.  I actually think that it is an easier type of bunt to master and can be even more effective than one down the third base line.  Below are some reasons why the push-bunt might be a better option for some hitters and situations.  

The push-bunt (Part 1)

Although not as popular as a base-hit bunt to third, the 
push-bunt towards first is a great (sometimes better) option.
(Photo by Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

Why the push-bunt?
  • When fielders see a batter's hands come forward on a base-hit bunt attempt, they usually assume it's going to be towards third base.  Pushing it towards first can surprise the infielders, especially the pitcher.  Surprise is good.
  • With a runner on second base and no outs, a push-bunt is usually better than a ball towards third because the bunt doesn't have to be as perfect.  A poorly bunted ball towards third can be fielded by the pitcher who now has a close throw to third base.  A ball pushed towards first base, even a poor one, is still moving everyone towards first base.  It will be very tough to field and then throw all the way back to third base.  Even if the batter doesn't get a hit, at least he moved the runner to third base.
  • For a right handed hitter, hitting the ball on the ground to the opposite field to move a runner to third base is a difficult skill.  The push-bunt is not.  Any hitter can do it if taught the basics.
  • Pitchers and third baseman work on fielding base hit bunts on the third base side frequently.  That usually isn't the case as much between the first baseman and the pitcher.  
  • When a ball is bunted towards third, the pitcher and third baseman mostly just have to communicate about is who is going to field the bunt.  When bunted towards first base, the first baseman and the pitcher must communicate about who is going to field the ball AND who is going to cover first base.  More communication = a greater chance of miscommunication.
  • Even with two outs, a third baseman will sometimes be on alert for a base-hit bunt and play more shallow, especially if a fast runner is at the plate.  With two outs, most every first baseman will play deeper if there is not a runner on first base.  Your odds of success may become better if the ball is bunted towards first base.
  • No offense to pitchers and first basemen but in most cases, the best defensive players in the infield are NOT the pitcher and the first baseman.  Many first baseman are in that position because they can hit, not field.  Pushing a bunt towards first base forces one or both of the two least able fielders to make the play.  Of course, this is a generalization and not always true depending on who plays those positions.  

Part 2 will list and explain some tips on executing the push-bunt correctly.

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