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What is a Bunt in Baseball? – Baseball Bunting Rules

Willie-Smith

Written by

A. Coatess

Sean-Hunter

Fact checked by

Sean Hunter

what is a bunt in baseball

Just as pitchers employ various pitching styles to throw hitters off, batters themselves also use different tactics during offensive play in baseball. Among them is the bunt.

What is a bunt in baseball? A bunt is a type of hit wherein the batter deliberately taps the ball lightly without swinging the bat. It is meant to hit the ball within a short distance so that a base runner can move closer to home.

Bunt Definition in Baseball

You’ll come across the term bunt in sports such as kickball, softball, baseball, and tennis.

  • Bunt in kickball is a light kick that sends the ball into fair territory but not past the line between 1st and 3rd
  • On the other hand, bunt in tennis is a return technique used on a low and short ball. It is delivered without the need to swing the racket and usually results in a deep ball or drop shot.
  • The bunt in softball is similar to that in baseball since it is patterned after the latter with a few variations in game equipment and mechanics. It isn’t uncommon to confuse one for the other, but a bunt means the same thing in both sports.

So what does bunt mean in baseball?

  • As mentioned earlier, a bunt is a hitting technique that involves tapping the ball lightly with the bat instead of delivering a full swing. It results in the ball landing in fair territory near the pitcher and an infielder, requiring either of them to field the ball.
  • A bunted ball travels a very short distance and takes more time to field since the pitcher or infielder must run toward it before throwing it to 1st base. That gives any runner or runners on base a better chance of advancing and moving closer to home.

Bunting in baseball is often used as a sacrifice move—this means the hitter will give up his chance of reaching base in exchange for a runner moving up and nearer the home plate. That usually happens when the scores are close, and the player at-bat is a weak hitter. 

How is a Bunt Executed?

bunt-definition-baseball

The baseball bunt may seem like a simple maneuver, but it takes more than just tapping the ball into fair territory within the infield to execute one successfully.

  • To begin with, the hitter must have an appropriate knowledge of the type of pitches a particular pitcher delivers.
  • Secondly, the batter must thoroughly assess the fielders’ possible reactions to the bunt in relation to where the base runners are.

For instance, if there is a runner on 2nd base and the bunt is in the direction of the left infield, will they opt to tag the runner or throw to 1st base?

  • Lastly, pulling off a bunt takes a lot of focus and physical adroitness. The batter will need to square up at some point during the pitch and when to do it is half the battle.

Squaring up means pivoting the body towards the pitcher’s direction while one hand slides up the bat’s barrel. Holding the bat at two opposite ends helps keep it steady as it makes contact with the ball during a bunt.

Some batters will square up even before the pitcher releases the ball, while others will only do so once the pitch is delivered. Still, others may square up to feign a bunt, then retract the bat at the last second to deliver a full swing.

Baseball teams continue to use bunts as an offensive game tactic. Coaches conduct bunting machine baseball drills to hone a batter’s proficiency in bunting, while bunt defense baseball drills that tackle different sacrifice bunt scenarios form part of standard baseball training.

Types of Bunts

There are three types of bunts in baseball, each named after what they attempt to achieve. Let’s look into these different bunting tactics:

  • Sacrifice bunt – As the name implies, this batting strategy “sacrifices” the hitter’s chances of getting to 1st base in exchange for a runner moving a base up and closer to home. In most cases, a sacrifice bunt enables a runner to advance from 1st to 2nd base or from 2nd to 3rd
  • Squeeze play – Similar to a sacrifice bunt, this tactic is used with a runner on 3rd base attempting to score a run with less than two outs. It is sometimes called a suicide squeeze play if the runner takes off base as soon as the pitch is delivered.
  • Bunting for a base hit – Sometimes, a hitter will opt for a bunt not to advance a base runner but simply to reach base. This is a common strategy used by weak hitters but fast runners. In most cases, they square up late to hoodwink defense.

Bunt Rules in Baseball

bunt-mean-in-baseball

The same rules govern a bunt as a swing except for certain scenarios where specific guidelines apply. They have remained consistent over the years, and no new bunt rules have altered these provisions.

1. Bunt attempts

Sometimes, a bunt may not be completely carried out, and it is up to the umpire to rule whether a bunt attempt has been made. A ball may be called if the hitter squared up but pulls back before the ball enters the strike zone.
However, if it is clear that the batter made an attempt to bunt or if the bat has been extended for a bunt and the ball hits the batter, a strike is ruled.

2. Bunt foul with two strikes

A bunt that goes into foul territory is ruled as a strike. However, if the hitter has two strikes and bunts a foul ball, he is put out immediately. This is unlike a regular swing when hitting a foul ball with two strikes does not count as an added strike and only extends the at-bat.

3. Double contact bunt

The play is ruled dead if the bunted ball makes contact with the bat in fair territory following a bunt. This can happen when the batter drops the bat while running towards 1st Other runners who have attempted to advance must return to base.

4. Bunting and hitting stats

A sacrifice bunt does not count against the hitter’s batting average and on-base percentage. The decision to make a sacrifice bunt is usually that of the coach, who sends a bunt sign to the player at bat. 

Frequently Asked Questions

bunting-in-baseball

Is bunting illegal in MLB?

Bunting is perfectly legitimate in Major League Baseball. In fact, bunting in MLB continues to be used as an offensive tactic, and we have yet to see one team complete an entire 162-game season without waging a sacrifice bunt.

Related: MLB Season Length – 2022 MLB Season Guide.

Will MLB ban bunt strategies?

If you receive word that there is an MLB no bunting rule, that is false news. MLB bunting is relatively common, although the league is seeing less of it with the implementation of the universal designated hitter.

What is considered a bunt in baseball?

Bunting is the act of grasping the bat at both ends to tap the ball instead of swinging at it. Again, the motive is to hit the ball slowly, so it lands just a few meters off the home plate. That way, infielders will need to field the ball, giving base runners ample time to move up a base.

Why do you want to bunt in baseball?

Hitters may bunt to advance a base runner into a scoring position or prevent a double play. Weak hitters but fast runners may also opt for a bunt to improve their chances of reaching first base.

When should you bunt in baseball?

Bunts are helpful toward the end of a match when a team needs to score a run. It makes sense to sacrifice an out if a base runner can move closer to the home plate. A bunt should only be executed when there are fewer than two strikes and two outs in an inning.

Conclusion

Balls need not fly to the outfield when scoring runs in baseball. In some cases, the gentle tap of a bunt can do the magic.

What is a bunt in baseball? You now know what the purpose of this offensive tactic is. A thorough understanding of the baseball bunt definitely helps with knowing why it is a brilliant strategy to use in specific scenarios.

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