A swinging bunt is perhaps one of the most hated outcomes of a swing by a hitter but also one of the most grateful. A batter can swing as hard as he wants to and try to emulate Hank Aaron or Babe Ruth, but if he nicks just enough of the ball it will roll much further than it carries in the air.
This baseball term describes when a ball comes off the bat like a bunt and rolls down either line. The difference from a regular bunt is, of course, the fact that the hitter was swinging the bat and not at all trying to bunt. Many times, a foul ball is the result of a hitter not getting solid contact, but the rare times the ball stays fair can result in action packed plays.
If a batter has any speed or hustle, a swinging bunt is as good an opportunity to reach base as any other and maybe more so. The defense is at regular depth and not charging the bunt until the last minute after the ball has already come off the bat. There may not be any advantage out of the batter’s box, but the element of surprise is the best asset to the hitter on this play.
It surprises the hitter just as much as the defense, which is why hustling down the line is a must. It doesn’t take long for a pitcher or fielder to make a play on the ball, but the extra moments to realize the situation and react turn the swinging bunt into the likes of a regular bunt attempt. The benefit for the hitter is the extra space the ball can roll due to the normally positioned defense.
No hitter likes to trickle a ball down the line, fair or foul. They especially don’t like to send one right back to the pitcher. But if one of those dribblers can find its way down the baseline, lackluster contact can turn into a mark in the hit column.
Hits are hard to come by and hitters are always looking for new ways to reach base. A swinging bunt is not the most elegant way to record a hit, but if it works it works. Some players, such as Ichrio, even use slap style hitting on a regular basis. It is also a very common tactic in softball. They may be fun to watch, but there won’t be any Top-10 highlight reels of players getting hits from swinging bunts.