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Monday, February 28, 2011

Prince Fielder Should Embrace the Bunt

Yesterday during the Brewers intrasquad game Prince Fielder threw down a bunt for a base hit. When I heard about it I couldn't help but laugh at what seemed simply to be more evidence of the relaxed atmosphere currently surrounding the Brewers. After thinking about it, though, I hope he spends more time practicing bunting this spring in order to feel comfortable laying one down during the regular season.

It might seem strange to want the Brewers best power hitter to sacrifice that power by attempting to bunt himself on base, especially considering Prince is far from the fastest runner on the team. But when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Opposing defenses sometimes shift to the right with him at the plate, placing the second baseman in shallow right field, the shortstop behind second base, and the third baseman near the shortstop's normal position. Consequently, he makes outs on balls in play that would normally be hits, a fact which he admits "hurts my feelings."

For a player of his size Prince can move. If he can place a bunt near third base he should be able to beat the throw to first by the pitcher or the overshifted third baseman. Showing opponents that he's not afraid to bunt when faced with the overshift will force a decision on their part. They can keep the overshift and run the danger of conceding a base runner when he bunts. Or, they can drop the overshift and free up space in the field for his hits to fall. Either way, the Brewers would benefit from this tactic, assuming it's used sparingly and in the right situations.

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