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Baseball’s Endangered Species – Bunts
His book, Coaching Youth League Baseball, was written by Hall of Fame College Coach Skip Bertman in 1975. Much of what he wrote about bunting is basically ignored today.
However, it is still relevant as an example of how the game should be taught and played at all levels of baseball – don’t try to catch on when a player reaches the Majors. What is sad is that the “art” and value of the bunt as a “weapon” has been lost by the last two generations of players, coaches and managers.
Skip wrote, “The Premier League’s emphasis on the long ball and the big inning has caused the art of bunting to be neglected. However, every year as the playoffs begin and the World Series begins, we see professionals nonetheless. of the animated ball and artificial surface. The bunt doesn’t score as many runs as the home run, but it’s often the key to the outcome of an important game.”
“Bunting is an important weapon for every team’s offense. Well-executed bunts can break a game open. The bunt-and-run can be an effective play. A hitter could surprise the defense and bunt for the base with no runners on. base, or with two outs and a runner on third.”
“If a coach feels that any play involving a bunt is necessary, he should go ahead with it. Pay no attention to the other people who always know what should have happened after the play is over. bunt, your team can create a lot of difficult situations for the defensive team, and if your opponents are not prepared properly, there will be a lot of mental mistakes and fielding errors.”
In 2016, he had the fewest Sacrifice Bunts (SH) per game (.21) in MLB history. SH registrations began in 1894 and have declined since then to what we have today. The numbers say the SH shortage is in the same boat as most Strikeouts (SO), which was also at an all-time high. In 2013, former Texas Ranger Manager Ron Washington was criticized by analysts for going too far. His response was, “They can take the analytics on that and put their (expletive) (expletive) up.” That year, the Rangers had .28 SH per game, matching the fewest at that time in MLB history. Washington’s response was perfect, and he agreed with Skip’s advice, “Don’t pay any attention to the second surveyor.”
In the book, 34-Ton Bat, by Steve Rushin, he mentions Casey Stengel, the famous NY Yankee manager, in 1945, when he was a Minor-League manager. Casey said, “I’m surrounded by the ball players today who can’t go.”
Funny, in those days, he was referring to a bunch of players, and I wonder what Casey would say now about the future of a clear majority of players that we have to watch. Yes, I know, the game has changed, as today’s active generations consider bunting “old school, small ball” and no longer relevant, but the facts trump the “old-fashioned” ideas of yesterday or “new-fangled” of today.
When the players don’t know how to bunt, when to bunt, or where to bunt, managers don’t know the value of bunts as a potential weapon, and don’t care. both of them don’t know; they must consider terrible things. They would be wrong! They were sold a mental bill of goods about bunting, along with several other misinformed ideas that have been widely accepted over the past 40 years. Defenses today routinely ignore the ability of a bunting batter to hit a base, because the batters do not understand that in many situations they can dictate future defensive positions at bats by executing a bunt. in a good position, but don’t make any effort. . There are ways to get around the exaggerated defensive moves that are used now, but not by unsuspecting players and managers. “Wee” Willie Keeler rightly said, “Hit them where they don’t belong.” Bunt ’em where they ain’t, works too.
Being a good foundation is not easy; it is a learned skill that requires proper instruction and constant practice, just like all skills in basketball and other sports. The ability to bunt has no bearing on bunting against a pitcher who is trying to get the bat out in a critical game situation. Without proper technique and confidence, the batter has little chance of success. That said, NL starting pitchers who pitch five or six times a month now do most of the sacrifice bunting, so if they can learn the basics of bunting they can definitely set players up. too.
An example of the dedication that can be necessary for the right skill set is what Coach Nellie Fox told then Washington Senators Manager, Ted Williams about his process as a player to become a great foundation. “Doc Cramer (Williams’ former teammate with the Red Sox) used to make Fox carry a bat around like it was a hot poker, with his thumb and forefinger as spread as possible. Fox said if Cramer suddenly tried to knock him down. hands and he could not “kick my neck.”
Whatever the 5’6″, 160 lb. Fox did to become a better bunter it worked, as one year he bunted safely – for hits – in 26 of 30 attempts. 5 steals and 5 steals each year, which shows that he excelled on the three-legged bunting stool, how, when and where to bunt. 18 SO Because Fox went to selected to play in 12 All-Star Games, was the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 1959, and was inducted by the Veterans Committee into the Hall of Fame in 1997, His constant efforts to become a better player were evident Nellie Fox was not the biggest, she was not the third, she was not the fastest player – he was indeed a BASEBALL player – always striving to improve.
Not only are bunts able to determine the defender’s position, but they can also be a useful tool to disrupt a pitcher’s rhythm. Remove them from the mound to cover their position, throw to the bases, and cover first base. Disturb them as much as possible. Bunches create risks that need to be protected. When protected, holes open up for base hits and other plays that would not normally be available. What Skip said is worth repeating, “…if your opponents are not properly prepared, there will be a lot of mental mistakes and fielding errors.”
Nothing in basketball works all the time, however, bunts can be useful and beneficial, not terrible, things. Try them, you’ll love them.
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