The drag bunt is a tricky play in baseball. Often, the result of a drag bunt is either an out or a runner on first base. It can be difficult to master this technique and it takes practice to perfect the art of the drag bunt.
A drag bunt is a well-placed bunt down the fair foul line either 3rd base or 1st base designed to pull the baseman away from the base and allow the batter and runner to reach the next base safely.
In this article, we will go over all you need to know about how to perform a successful drag bunt both offensively and defensively! As well as what hitters should do with runners on first base when they are at bat in our Guide to the Drag Bunt in Baseball.
A Complete Guide to the Drag Bunt in Baseball
The Drag Bunt in Baseball: A Guide for Offense and Defense
Drag bunt is a tricky play that can result with an out or runner on first. It takes practice to master this technique, but we’re here to help! In this guide you’ll find tips on how to perform a successful drag bunt both offensively and defensively.
Hitting with Runners on First Base
When you have a runner on first base, there are different things you can do at the plate in order to try and advance them. One of those options is the drag bunt. If you’re up at bat and there’s a runner on first, here are some tips for what you should do:
- If the pitcher is slow to the plate or you have a good chance of getting a hit, try and swing away.
- If the pitcher is quick to the plate or there’s a chance they’ll get you out, try and bunt the ball towards first base.
- When bunting, make sure to bunt the ball within reach of the first baseman. If they’re too far away, it’s not worth bunting.
- If you bunt and get a hit or an out, try and advance your runner if possible.
- Make sure to practice this in batting practice before trying it during a game so that you can perfect your technique.
- If you swing away and get a hit, make sure to try and advance your runner if possible.
Hitting with Runners on 3rd Base
If there’s a runner on third you should always assume they’ll try and steal home. This means that if the catcher throws down to second, make sure to get back safely! If runners are on first or third base, here are some things you can do at the plate:
- Try for a hit by swinging away.
- Bunt the ball towards first base, but make sure you have enough speed to get back safely if the catcher throws down.
- When bunting with runners on third or second, it’s beneficial for the runner(s) behind you to be speedy so they can advance in case of a bunt success.
- If you swing away and get a hit, make sure you don’t get thrown out at first base. This will allow the runner on third to score.
- If you bunt and get a hit, try and advance your runners if possible.
Make sure to practice this in batting practice before trying it during a game so that you can perfect your technique.
Drag Bunt Conditions and Outcomes
While this strategy is incredibly useful offensively, it does pose risks as well. A successfully executed drag bunt will often result in a hit, however there is always a chance that the defense may be able to turn two if they get to the ball quickly enough, they might even throw out the runner at first base if he’s not fast enough.
Because of this a team should only execute a drag bunt when one of three conditions are met:
- There are less than 2 outs and runners on 1st or 2nd with 1st base open or 2nd base occupied with less than two strikes OR there are two outs and fewer than two strikes OR runners are on first and third with less than two outs.
- The defense is in a shift, playing very deep near the line or 3rd base is pulled in for the bunt.
- There is no play at 1st Base because of an open first base side or first base being vacated due to the catcher’s position on 2nd base.
A successful drag bunt will usually result in one of three outcomes:
- The batter reaches base safely – Because it is difficult for infielders to turn two when executing this play, there is a high probability that the runner will reach safely. Unless fielders are able to quickly get to the ball they may even have difficulty throwing out the batter at first due to the high velocity of the ball off the bat.
- The fielder gets to the ball quickly and throws out the runner at first – If a defense fields the bunt properly and gets to it quickly there is a good chance they will be able to throw out the runner, especially with little time for him to make up his mind on whether or not he should slide. However this outcome isn’t necessarily bad since if all goes well, it results in an easy “out” at first base.
- Batter reaches 1st Base but 1B cannot make a strong throw back to 2nd Base – This is probably one of the worst outcomes for a team that executes a drag bunt since it’s essentially equivalent to a successful bunt for a base hit with the added bonus of first base being open. With no outs it’s unlikely that teams will want to risk this outcome, however if there are less than two outs and the runner at first is fast, this might be an acceptable gamble.
Unfortunately because there is such high potential for success when executing a drag bunt, many teams tend to do it far too often. Most elite defenses have three or more infielders capable of making difficult plays look routine so using this strategy against them is asking for trouble. If you choose to bunt on defense you should use it sparingly since even one misplayed ball could be very costly.
When Does It Make Sense To Drag Bunt?
In general, you should never try a drag bunt unless one of the three conditions mentioned above is met. It depends on what they’re trying to accomplish by getting one or more batters on base.
If the goal of your turn at bat is simply to get on base then there’s no harm in just trying to hit away. It takes less effort to make contact with a ball if you swing normally compared to swinging down on the ball and attempting a drag bunt.
However if your hitters are up but your team already has two outs, chances are executing a successful drag bunt will require precise timing since this play type requires the batter to be able to lay down a perfect bunt.
You can do drag bunt but be aware of the following:
- Glance Toward The 3rd Baseman – If you see the third baseman cheating in, it probably means they’re expecting a bunt. If this is the case and you try to swing away instead of bunting, you might get fooled by their positioning and end up popping out or grounding into a double play. Or the opposite where the 3rd baseman isn’t really paying attention (mental lapse) or too far back then an opportunity for a drag bunt (make sure to aim at fair foul line.)
- Left Handed Pitcher – Drag bunt with a lefty pitcher is easier since they can’t throw to first. Look at the catcher’s glove side for any movement from the right handed hitter, if he moves his feet back or toward third base then go ahead and try it. In this situation you don’t have to worry about the pitcher throwing over because there will be no one covering first base.
3 Simple Steps in Actually Doing a Drag Bunt
There are three simple steps that you need to follow in order to successfully execute a drag bunt.
- Set Your Feet – You want to make sure that your feet are set before you even start your swing. This will give you more time to get your bat on the ball and increase your chances of making contact while positioning yourself for a Sprinter Stance.
- Set Your Bat Angle – Drag bunts require a slightly different bat angle than normal bunt attempts. You want to make sure that your hands are set at the very end of the barrel of your bat and not positioned further up like you would if you were attempting a typical bunt.
Fair Foul – You have to pinch the foul line and you cannot afford to bunt the ball back to the pitcher. If you’re able to hit it right next to either first or third base then just focus on staying out of the double play and ideally getting yourself into scoring position with less than two outs.
Set the Vertical Angle of your Bat – This is probably the most important part of executing a drag bunt. You never want to have your barrel below the knob of your bat because that would make the ball popped up. Make sure the angle is either flat or (even better) the barrel slightly above the knob.
- Bunt With Your Knees And Catch The Ball – The key to laying down a successful drag bunt is getting the bat on the ball. You don’t need much power, just enough to get the ball past the infielders. Knee down in order to adjust to pitch this will help in the control. When you make contact, you want to stay down on one knee and catch the ball with your bat.
Things to Watch Out On How to Prevent/Defend Drag Bun
- Keep Your Eye On The Ball – It’s important to keep your eye on the ball at all times and make sure you see the ball travel past your pitcher’s mound. If not, there is a good chance that it could go foul and end up back in play
- Coach – The coach should be calling out the directions of where to throw depending on which base or bag they want to send the runner at while also reminding them about who has the ball.
- Third baseman – The third baseman should be playing in between the infielders and outfielders (closer to home plate) so they can cover any bunts that might make it through. If they cheat too far in or get fooled by a fake bunt, then there’s a good chance the batter could take them yard.
- Double Play – You don’t want to try a drag bunt if there’s a chance that it could go into the double play. The only time where this would be okay is when you’re trying to hit and run because both players are going on contact so any base hits will give one of them an opportunity at second or third base while also giving the runner a chance to steal.
- Lay Down A Fake Drag Bunt – If you see that your pitcher is struggling with throwing over, go ahead and try a fake drag bunt once or twice just for him/her to get used to it. This will allow them time prior to game time so they know what’s coming when the real thing happens.
Types of Bunt
There are several ways to burn successfully. Each type of bunt requires different timing and placement of the hands.
- Drag Bunt is best executed by placing the barrel of the bat on top of the ball at an angle rather than swinging right through it. This causes the barrel to roll over the top of the ball, pushing it in the direction of home plate where the hitter wants it to go. It also means that if contact is not made correctly with the ball, it will roll instead of flying out of play or being caught by an outfielder.
- Another type of bunt is the push bunt which involves keeping the head of the bat in the same position it would be if you were swinging. However, instead of swinging, your hitter should try to move the bat through the strike zone with just enough force to push the ball towards an area where there are no defensemen.
This is often difficult due to how quickly pro pitchers can throw a ball near 100 mph (160 km/h).
- The last type of bunt is the slash bunt which can be difficult to learn because it requires that your hitter actually swings the bat like they would when hitting away. Hitters will often get confused between this and a regular swing since their hands are placed in similar positions; however, instead of simply aiming for the ball, a hitter will want to guide the bat through the strike zone with less force than a regular swing.
A slash bunt works best when done by a right handed hitter since the pitch is going across the plate from left to right which is most easily approached using a counter-clockwise stance as it helps your player turn his body easier.
A left handed hitter will need to turn his body clockwise in order to match the swing with the direction of the pitch. This can be difficult for new players (or even experienced ones) to master since it requires that your player learn how to spin during a swing which is often counterintuitive.
The most important thing to remember about any type of bunt is that you must put the ball in play. Whether it’s a drag, push or slash bunt; if your hitter doesn’t succeed with putting the bat on the ball then they will be forced to swing away which means that their chances of getting on base have just diminished significantly.
When executed correctly, a drag bunt will result in your hitter placing the ball so that it travels within an area where there are no infielders. If done successfully, this could mean either reaching first base or advancing to second or third if runners were already occupying those positions.
The best way to make sure that your hitter is successful with a drag bunt is by practicing during batting practice. This will give them the opportunity to perfect their timing and placement so that they can successfully execute it in a game situation.
Remember, any type of bunt puts the ball in play which gives your team more opportunities to score runs and increase their chances of winning!