A normally boring topic, bunting, was pushed into the headlines by the 2012 St. Louis Cardinals. First-year manager Mike Matheny took a fair amount of heat for his relatively-frequent calls for the bunt as well as their timing, but mostly because of the apparent lack of success in execution killed more than one potential rally during a season in which the club barely made the playoffs.
The skipper’s plan for 2013 was apparently not necessarily to bunt less, but to raise the level of proficiency of his hitters’ skills in that area. Increased focus in spring training drills underlined the plan, which even included a challenge to a bunting contest with the media.
It is still too early to pass judgment on the bunting prowess of the Cardinals hitters or the manager’s tactical deployment of the bunt in 2013.
However, one well-respected manager, Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays, has weighed in on the subject.
After a one-run, extra-inning loss on Sunday, the skipper told the Miami Herald the following:
“For that group of people out there that want guys to bunt all the time, you don’t know the outcome when you choose to do that,” Maddon said, of choosing not to bunt with two runners on base and no outs in the ninth inning, and again following a leadoff double in the 10th.
“I think the bunt is an overrated play.”
You can read more about Maddon’s view of when he believes it makes sense to bunt and when not here.