Think the Game

Bunt Responsibilities Part 2

The Situation:

Runners on 1st and 2nd, no outs in the top of the 8th. The game is tied at 5.

The Play:

The defense is expecting the bunt on the 0-0 count and it looks like that’s what they will get. The pitcher starts his delivery and the batter squares to bunt. The third baseman sees the hands drop into the bunting positing and starts to crash, knowing that the bunt should be directed his way. The runner on second, who had entered his secondary as the pitcher delivered home, sees the empty base at 3rd and takes off running. The runner at 1st follows his lead. The pitch comes in and the batter lays down a bunt to the third baseman, who fields the ball, hears the “One, one, one!” call and throws to first.

The Outcome:

The batter is out by 40 feet and the runners move up easily to second and third. The offense will have 2 opportunities to score the runs.

What Went Wrong:

If this situation sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same basic situation as last week’s think the game, but with a different result. If you haven’t read that think the game, give it a quick read before continuing.

On the play described above, there are two mistakes that offset. As we described in great detail last week, the third baseman errs by charging the bunt too soon and too aggressively, giving the runner at second a free pass to third base. However, the batter makes a mistake that lets the third baseman off the hook. Can you see what that is?

The batter has been instructed to sacrifice the runners up with a bunt down the third base line. However, when the runners take off and there is no one covering third, the situations changes because it’s clear that those runners will easily move up a base each without having to sacrifice an out. What the batter should have done was pull back the bunt, just like he did in Part 1. Instead, he gains nothing new and costs his team an easy out by not adapting to the play as it evolved. It’s a great example of the way players must make constant adjustments during game play. As we’ve discussed before, a big part of thinking the game has to do with capitalizing on every mistake made by your opponent. In this scenario, an adjustment to the original task was necessary to account for changing circumstances. Had the batter pulled back, it would have been an outstanding think the game moment and he would have been rewarded with the opportunity to knock in two runs for his team.