In softball, bunting is prohibited. Similarly, stealing bases is not permitted as players are only allowed to leave the base after a hit is made, not after a bunt.
The pace of slow pitch softball is slower, giving hitters sufficient time to plan their hit. This also allows for the prediction and interception of the ball by concentrating on its trajectory.
The ball is thrown underhand, with one foot remaining on the pitching plate until the ball is released. The permissible arc size is restricted to between six and 12 feet to prevent the ball from gaining speed.
In contrast to fast-pitch softball, where the speed of the pitch is much higher, bunting and stealing bases are permitted, making them legal plays. However, these actions are not allowed in slowpitch games.
Also, if a player prepares to bunt but ends up hitting the ball while returning to their position, it is deemed a foul ball. This rule is in place to penalize bunts that result in the ball entering foul territory after being hit back.
Contrary to softball, in baseball, specific rules have been established to prohibit bunting.
Bunting Foul With Two Strikes
A two-strike bunt foul results in the batter being struck out. However, if the bunt lands in the fair territory, the batter is safe from being out.
Usually, batters avoid bunting with two strikes already against them.
A foul ball is considered standard with no strikes against the batter. Bunting is a key offensive strategy in baseball, used to confuse infielders, but it becomes risky with two or more strikes.
Even with a successful bunt, there is a risk of a strikeout if the ball lands in the foul territory. Skillful players sometimes choose to bunt in these situations despite the risk.
It is important for teams to listen to their coaches and not attempt a third strike after two strikes. A two-strike bunt can surprise opponents and potentially advance bases, but there is also a high risk of a foul.
Keeping it brief and straightforward, it is advised to carefully consider the situation before attempting a bunt with two strikes.
What happens if you bunt a foul ball with 2 strikes?
In a baseball game, when a player hits a foul bunt with two strikes, it usually results in an out due to the ‘Two strike bunt rule‘. This rule states that if the ball lands in the foul territory, it is considered as a strike.
However, there have been instances in official baseball matches where a batter was deemed safe even after hitting a foul ball with two strikes.
The Baseball Rules Academy provides a detailed explanation of such an instance in a video. This incident occurred during the Reds & Brewers game on August 29, 2018.
The batter in this game initially assumed a bunting position but decided to withdraw. The umpire noticed the batter’s intention to retract from the bunting position and inadvertently hitting the ball into the foul territory.
In this case, the batter was penalized with a foul ball instead of a strike, which is the usual consequence of a regular bunt.
Therefore, a batter can avoid an out from a foul bunt with two strikes if they indicate their intention to withdraw from the bunting position before hitting the ball.
Bunt Foul On 3rd Strike
If a player tries to bunt and the ball goes foul, it counts as a strike. For the batter, hitting three foul bunts results in a strikeout. A foul bunt that is not caught mid-air is marked as a strike.
However, if a player from the infield catches the ball before it lands in the foul area, the batter does not get out. Instead, the play is recorded as a putout, not a strike.
Similarly, if a batter, initially planning to bunt, changes their mind and unintentionally hits the ball which then goes into foul territory, it is still considered a foul ball.
A bunt is officially when a batter intentionally meets the ball with the bat to redirect it to a challenging position in the infield. A well-executed bunt, resulting from weak contact with the ball, can mislead the fielders and lead them away from the bases.
The umpire’s decision is crucial. They must determine if the batter intentionally met the ball with the bat, causing it to go foul. The third strike rule is applied when a bunt ends up in the foul area.
Do A Sacrifice Bunt Count As An At Bat?
A sacrifice bunt, when successfully executed, is not considered an at-bat. This means that the batting average of the hitter is not affected, even though it is recorded as a plate appearance.
The term ‘sacrifice’ is used because the hitter gives up their chance to bat again to help the runners advance, usually resulting in their own out by the infielders.
If the batter safely reaches the base, it is marked as a single, not a sacrifice. However, if the scorer believes the batter was trying to get a base hit rather than advancing the runners, it is counted as an at-bat.
Often, pitchers, who may not excel in areas other than pitching, attempt sacrifice bunts to help the runner progress a base, even if it means they get out.
On the other hand, leadoff hitters, who are adept at bunting and frequently try to get on base and move runners, make occasional sacrifices, but most of their attempts are counted as at-bats.
The term ‘squeeze play’ is used in the context of sacrifice bunts when a runner is on third base. Similarly, when a runner tries to steal home during a bunt, it is known as a ‘suicide squeeze.’
Major League Baseball has witnessed some remarkable bunting records over the years.
Bunting Pitcher Lenny Randle
In a 1974 match between the Rangers and the Indians, Lenny Randle, a pitcher known for bunting, was involved in a controversial incident.
During the game, Randle hit a bunt down the first base and then moved into fair territory, blocking Indians pitcher Bob Johnson.
This led to HP umpire Dave Phillips declaring Randle out for obstructing a runner’s lane or base path, in line with the interference rule.
Bunting Max Scherzer
Max Scherzer Bunting gained notoriety due to a nose injury he sustained during a practice match against the Phillies, when a ball he bunted fouled and hit his face.
In the 2019 MLB season, the Nationals’ lead pitcher, Scherzer, encountered a problem. Being a three-time National League Cy Young Award recipient, his absence in the injured list was a significant loss for the Washington Nationals.
This resulted in a challenging season for the team, as reflected in their 33-38 record.
Bunting A Home Run Ichiro
Ichiro Suzuki, renowned for his exceptional hitting skills, has a career highlighted by multiple home runs and bunts.
However, the widely circulated notion of Suzuki hitting a home run from a bunt has been debunked by Essentially Sports.
The video in question, it turns out, is a cleverly edited amalgamation of two separate incidents – one where Suzuki hits a home run and another where he bunts.