The bunt, a simple yet effective tool. A hitting technique in baseball when the batter squares towards the pitcher with one hand near the top of the bat with one primary goal in mind. To keep the ball in fair territory and reach first base. It is a technique taught from the little league level on and something that every leadoff hitter needs to perfect. It is used most often to advance runners into scoring position and a strategic attempt to score runs. No this is not Baseball for Dummies 101 this is just my explanation of what a bunt is to Phillies phans who rarely ever witness one. Of course we all remember Chooch’s infamous hit/squibber/bunt-like masterpiece that clinched Game 3 of the 2008 World Series in walk-off fashion! Whatever you want to call it, it was a thing of beauty!
Okay so I understand that this article may not be the most stimulating piece of reading you may lay your eyes on. I can’t imagine anyone stumbling across this blog while googling the word “bunt.” The fact remains “the bunt” is an essential part of the game. It is important for National League pitchers to perfect the bunt (Just ask Country Roy Oswalt) and very important for lead-off hitters and your speed guys to master.
So my over exaggeration of never being witness to a bunt is only because bunting is something that doesn’t happen very often in the Phillies offense. You need a leadoff hitter that will get on first no matter what it takes and well J-Roll would rather swing for the fences. This is by no means an article bashing the productivity and or capabilities of our illustrious leadoff man because quite frankly Jimmy has been and still is one of my favorite Phillies. Jiiiiiiimmmmmyyyyyyy! This is just an observation of how “the bunt” doesn’t really exist in Charlie Manuel’s offense and when it happens it is usually poorly timed.
Charlie is a baseball guru, who knows the game inside and out and baseball is his life. One thing the Phillies O struggled mightily with last year especially in the playoffs was manufacturing runs. Yes I know we managed to finish second in the NL with runs scored but it was evident in the postseason how much the offense struggled to score. I know big man Ryan Howard should never be asked to bunt, but sometimes there’s enough room on the third base side with the shift for Howard to bunt, grab some Crab Fries, and still make it to first before the throw.
I cannot remember the last time I have ever seen Rollins bunt, Victorino definitely has the capabilities of successfully doing it and our best bunter is pitcher Roy Oswalt (now that man can bunt!) I understand that in a heavy hitting lineup, and a ballpark designed to score runs the last thing on Charlie’s mind is bunting. As I just pointed out we have guys who can do it; J-Roll, Victorino, Polanco, Chase, etc. The thing is Charlie knows baseball and knows that the offense needs to get off to a hot start in 2011 or the offensive “funk talk” will be in full force at Citizens Bank Park. I think one way to do that is to start bunting more and getting guys on base. Nothing manufactures runs faster than runners actually on base! Our lack of production with getting on base, stealing bags, and scoring runs last year was heavily scrutinized.
So as I school you on the lost art of bunting in Philadelphia I pose one simple question. What will it take to get this dangerously potent, best lineup in baseball, run scoring machine of an offense back to its rightful dominance? Two words….the bunt.