NVTBL is launching a new EDU blog with weekly messages every Monday focusing on educating coaches, parents and players on various baseball topics.
This week’s “Monday Message” comes from former MLB manager Bo Porter, who spoke at the 2018 MLBPA Coaches Clinic on July 13. The clinic was brought to Washington D.C. during the MLB All-Star Weekend and featured Porter, Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, Willie Randolph, Dimitri Young and a ton of other former pros.
Porter: "Anticipate a bad bunt, we want the lead runner.”
Porter started the clinic with a segment on defense, covering details about alignment and cutoff plays from the outfield. The focus on today’s message is from what he said about bunt defense and the approach he had his teams take when defending bunts.
“We want to aggressively go after the lead runner. The other team is telling us that they want to move the runner into scoring position by sacrificing an out because that puts them in a better position to score. We don’t want to let them do that. I told our guys to anticipate a bad bunt and try to erase the lead runner. If it’s a good bunt, then we just take the out at first.”
Most of us are familiar with the more traditional approach: “Take the out at first. If it’s bunted right to you, get the lead runner.”
Well, that means we are anticipating a good bunt and our plan is to let the opposition execute a sacrifice and advance the runner. Porter’s approach is to anticipate a bad bunt and not allow the runner to advance.
Bunts that are hit too hard or right at players happen more frequently than bunts that actually advance the runner, especially at youth levels. Train your kids to look for the hard, bad bunts and go after the lead runner and practice that more than you would practice fielding a good bunt and making a simple throw to first. Remember, if the opposition executes a good bunt in a game we just take the out at first.
The approach of looking for a bad bunt and aggressively trying to eliminate the lead runner may not seem like a dramatic difference from what you may be teaching your kids, but it could make the difference in a tight ball game.
Eliminating runners in scoring position late in games and preventing the opposition from accomplishing their goals are just a few essential ingredients to a consistent winning recipe.