Baseball Magazine

Third Baseman's Bunt Positioning

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
The idea for this post came during the first game of the World Series the other night between the Cardinals and the Rangers.  Chris Carpenter was batting and was attempting to bunt a runner to second base.  The situation was captured in a quick shot from a camera that must have been located at the top of the stadium because it was more of an aerial shot.  It lasted for about a second and showed the positioning of every infielder just prior to the pitch being thrown.  I noticed Adrian Beltre’s position at third base and it reminded me of an important tip regarding positioning for third basemen on bunt plays.

Third baseman's bunt positioning

There can be a benefit to hugging
the line on bunt plays.

It starts with the understanding that it is always easier to go to your glove side when fielding ground balls.  Not only is it easier because that’s the side the ball is caught but usually the fielder (a right handed fielder) is also moving to his glove side and therefore is moving towards first base before catching the ball as well.  Momentum that moves towards first base prior to fielding makes it much easier to field and make the throw to first base because you don’t have to change your momentum after catching the ball.  It saves time because it’s already taken care of.Knowing this, the following tip for third basemen on bunt plays will make more sense.  The camera angle I referred to showed that Adrian Belter was hugging the third base line when he was creeping towards the batter before the pitch.  Usually when a third baseman “hugs” or stands very close to the line it means he is trying to prevent an extra base hit from being hit past third and down into the outfield corner.  Of course, Carpenter was clearly bunting (he squared around early) so why did he hug the line on the bunt?It’s because if he charges close to the line on the pitch, virtually every bunt will be to his glove side.  This gives him the best chance to field the bunt while moving towards first base and even gives him a greater ability to field a poorly bunted ball and possibly throw to second base for a force out or even a double play (5-6-3).  If he positioned himself farther off the third base bag on the pitch and the bunt went down the third base line, Beltre would have had to charge towards the ball and towards the third base line.  In essence, his momentum would be traveling away from first and second base making it much harder for him to field and then change directions in order to throw.  He probably would be fine on a play to first base but a possible throw to second would be too risky due to the increased time that it would take.
Staying closer to the line when charging a bunt as a third baseman is not a bad idea.  It usually provides you with more options depending on how the ball is bunted.

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