Sacrifice bunt

In baseball, a sacrifice bunt (also called a sacrifice hit) is a batter's act of deliberately bunting the ball, before there are two outs, in a manner that allows a runner on base to advance to another base. The batter is almost always sacrificed (and to a certain degree that is the intent of the batter) but sometimes reaches base due to an error or fielder's choice. In that situation, if runners still advance bases, it is still scored a sacrifice bunt instead of the error or the fielder's choice. Sometimes the batter may safely reach base by simply outrunning the throw to first; this is not scored as a sacrifice bunt but rather a single.

In the Major Leagues, sacrifice bunts reduce the average runs scored but increase the likelihood of scoring once. However, they can increase the average runs scored in an inning if the batter is a weak hitter.

A successful sacrifice bunt does not count as an at bat, does not impact a player's batting average, and counts as a plate appearance. However, unlike a sacrifice fly, a sacrifice bunt does not count against a player in determining on-base percentage. If the official scorer believes that the batter was attempting to bunt for a base hit, and not solely to advance the runners, the batter is charged an at bat and is not credited with a sacrifice bunt.

In leagues without a designated hitter, sacrifice bunts are most commonly attempted by pitchers, who are typically not productive hitters. Managers consider that if a pitcher's at bat will probably result in an out, they might as well go out in a way most likely to advance the runners. The play also obviates the need for the pitcher to run the base paths, and hence avoids the risk of injury. Some leadoff hitters also bunt frequently in similar situations and may be credited with a sacrifice, but as they are often highly skilled bunters and faster runners, they are often trying to get on base as well as advance runners.

A sacrifice bunt attempted while a runner is on third is called a squeeze play.

A sacrifice bunt attempted while a runner on third is attempting to steal home is called a suicide squeeze.

Although a sacrifice bunt is not the same as a sacrifice fly, both fell under the same statistical category until 1954.

In scoring, a sacrifice bunt may be denoted by SH, S, or occasionally, SAC.

Notable players with 300 or more sacrifice bunts

The following players have accumulated 300 or more sacrifice bunts in their playing careers:

Major League Baseball (MLB)[1]
Active MLB leaders (as of end of 2017 season)[2]
  1. 100: Elvis Andrus (SS)
  2. 89: Clayton Kershaw (P)
  3. 84: Johnny Cueto (P)
  4. 77: Alcides Escobar (SS)
  5. 75: Erick Aybar (INF)
Nippon Professional Baseball

Since the beginning of the live-ball era (1920), the career leader in sacrifice bunts is Joe Sewell with 275. He was first called up by the Cleveland Indians late in the 1920 season shortly after the death of Indians star shortstop Ray Chapman after being hit in the head by a pitch, the event which is generally regarded as the start of the live-ball era.

Criticism

Though touted as good strategy by traditionalists, the sacrifice bunt has received significant criticism by modern sabermetrics. Simply, sabremetics argue that the value of moving a runner to another base is offset by the team's sacrificing one of its limited and valuable 27 outs. An out-conceded is an out-wasted, in other words.

The following stats illustrate the argument. From 1993-2010, if a team had a runner on first base with no outs, on average it would score .941 runs from that point until the end of the inning. If a team had a runner on second base with one out, however, the average was .721 runs from that point forward. Thus, if a batter walks to lead off an inning and his team bats, that team will, on average, score almost one run in the inning. On the other hand, that team decreases its run expectancy by 23 percent if it successfully bunts and moves the runner to second with one out.[3][4]

Complicating affairs are the many difficulties and risks associated with bunting. The runner or runners on base must have speed, or the defense may get an easy force out. A manager could feasibly pinch-run, but then his bench becomes smaller. The player at the plate must also lay down a quality bunt. That is, the player must lay down a bunt that does not pop up, go foul, or go straight to a fielder. Even if all goes well, if the sacrifice bunt is successful, the team must still get a hit to score the runner, and they now have 2 outs remaining instead of three.[5][6]

References

  1. ^ "MLB.com Statistics".
  2. ^ "Active Leaders &Records for Sacrifice Hits | Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  3. ^ By the Numbers: Bunting in baseball can be downright medieval | The Columbian
  4. ^ The Baseball Analysts: Empirical Analysis of Bunting
  5. ^ Why Do Baseball Players Still Bunt So Damn Much?
  6. ^ Tango, Tom M., Mitchel G. Lichtman, and Andrew E. Dolphin. The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball. Washington, D.C.: Potomac, 2007. Print.
2001 National League Division Series

The 2001 National League Division Series (NLDS), the opening round of the 2001 National League playoffs, began on Tuesday, October 9, and ended on Sunday, October 14, with the champions of the three NL divisions—along with a "wild card" team—participating in two best-of-five series. The teams were:

(1) Houston Astros (Central Division champion, 93–69) vs. (3) Atlanta Braves (Eastern Division champion, 88–74): Braves win series, 3–0.

(2) Arizona Diamondbacks (Western Division champion, 92–70) vs. (4) St. Louis Cardinals (Wild Card, 93–69): Diamondbacks win series, 3–2.The Diamondbacks and Braves went on to meet in the NL Championship Series (NLCS). The Diamondbacks became the National League champion, and defeated the American League champion New York Yankees in the 2001 World Series.

2005 American League Championship Series

The 2005 American League Championship Series (ALCS), the second round of the 2005 American League playoffs, which determined the 2005 American League champion, matched the Central Division champion Chicago White Sox against the West Division champion Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The White Sox, by virtue of having the best record in the AL during the 2005 season, had the home-field advantage. The White Sox won the series four games to one to become the American League champions, and faced the Houston Astros in the 2005 World Series, in which the White Sox swept the Astros in four games to win their first World Series championship in 88 years; as a result of the 2005 All-Star Game played in Detroit, Michigan at Comerica Park on July 12, the White Sox had home-field advantage in the World Series. The series was notable both for a controversial call in Game 2 of the series, and the outstanding pitching and durability of Chicago's starting rotation, pitching four consecutive complete games; the ​ 2⁄3 of an inning Neal Cotts pitched in the first game was the only work the White Sox bullpen saw the entire series.

The White Sox and Angels were victorious in the AL Division Series (ALDS), with the White Sox defeating the defending World Champion and wild card qualifier Boston Red Sox three games to none, and the Angels defeating the Eastern Division champion New York Yankees three games to two. It was the first ALCS since 2002 not to feature the Red Sox and the Yankees.

2005 National League Championship Series

The 2005 National League Championship Series (NLCS), the second round of the 2005 National League playoffs, matched the Central Division champion and defending league champion St. Louis Cardinals against the wild card qualifier Houston Astros, a rematch of the 2004 NLCS. The Cardinals, by virtue of having the best record in the NL during the 2005 season, had the home-field advantage. The Astros won the series four games to two, and became the National League champions; they faced the American League champion Chicago White Sox in the 2005 World Series, where the Astros lost to the White Sox in a sweep in four games.

The Cardinals and Astros were victorious in the NL Division Series (NLDS), with the Cardinals defeating the West Division champion San Diego Padres three games to none, and the Astros defeating the East Division champion Atlanta Braves three games to one. St. Louis manager Tony La Russa, who won AL pennants with the Oakland Athletics in 1988–89–90 and the NL flag in 2004, fell short in his bid to become the first manager in history to win multiple pennants in both major leagues, although he did so in 2006 and again in 2011. The NLCS also closed with the last game ever played at St. Louis' Busch Stadium (II), which the Cardinals departed after 40 seasons.

At bat

In baseball, an at bat (AB) or time at bat is a batter's turn batting against a pitcher. An at bat is different from a plate appearance. A batter is credited with a plate appearance regardless of what happens during his turn at bat, but a batter is credited with an at bat only if that plate appearance does not have one of the results enumerated below. While at bats are used to calculate certain statistics, including batting average and slugging percentage, a player can qualify for the season-ending rankings in these categories only if he accumulates 502 plate appearances during the season.

A batter will not receive credit for an at bat if his plate appearance ends under the following circumstances:

He receives a base on balls (BB).

He is hit by a pitch (HBP).

He hits a sacrifice fly or a sacrifice bunt (also known as sacrifice hit).

He is awarded first base due to interference or obstruction, usually by the catcher.

He is replaced by another hitter before his at bat is completed, in which case the plate appearance and any related statistics go to the pinch hitter (unless he is replaced with two strikes and his replacement completes a strikeout, in which case the at bat and strikeout are still charged to the first batter).In addition, if the inning ends while he is still at bat (due to the third out being made by a runner caught stealing, for example), no at bat or plate appearance will result. In this case, the batter will come to bat again in the next inning, though the count will be reset to no balls and no strikes.

Rule 9.02(a)(1) of the official rules of Major League Baseball defines an at bat as: "Number of times batted, except that no time at bat shall be charged when a player: (A) hits a sacrifice bunt or sacrifice fly; (B) is awarded first base on four called balls; (C) is hit by a pitched ball; or (D) is awarded first base because of interference or obstruction[.]"

Bunt (baseball)

A bunt is a batting technique in baseball or fastpitch softball. To bunt, the batter loosely holds the bat in front of the plate and intentionally taps the ball into play.

Ed Armbrister

Edison Rosanda Armbrister (born July 4, 1948 in Nassau, Bahamas) is a former outfielder in Major League Baseball who had a five-year career from 1973 through 1977 with the Cincinnati Reds. Originally in the Houston Astros system, he was traded to the Reds in the deal that sent Joe Morgan, César Gerónimo, Denis Menke and Jack Billingham to Cincinnati for Lee May, Tommy Helms and Jimmy Stewart.

Armbrister is best remembered for his involvement in a controversial play in the 1975 World Series. In the tenth inning of Game Three, with César Gerónimo on base and nobody out, Armbrister collided with Boston Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk at home plate while starting to run out a sacrifice bunt, leading to a wild throw by Fisk to second base that allowed Gerónimo to reach third base and eventually score the winning run; home plate umpire Larry Barnett did not make an interference call on Armbrister, a decision which was a source of heated debate after the Reds won the game 6–5.

After baseball, he returned to the Bahamas. He was a craps table croupier at Resorts International’s Paradise Island Casino and worked for at least one other establishment in the gaming business, a staple of the Bahamian tourist economy. As of 2006, he was with the Local Government and Consumer Affairs agency, on Arawak Cay, a popular attraction in the Nassau area. He also served as a consultant to the Ministry of Sports and managed the Bahamian junior national team. In his downtime, Armbrister became a notable local softball player.In 2008, he was inducted into the Bahamas National Hall of Fame.

Hitting streak

In baseball, a hitting streak is the number of consecutive official games in which a player appears and gets at least one base hit. According to the Official Baseball Rules, such a streak is not necessarily ended when a player has at least 1 plate appearance and no hits. A streak shall not be terminated if all official plate appearances result in a base on balls, hit by pitch, defensive interference or a sacrifice bunt. The streak shall terminate if the player has a sacrifice fly and no hit.Joe DiMaggio holds the Major League Baseball record with a streak of 56 consecutive games in 1941 which began on May 15 and ended July 17. DiMaggio hit .408 during his streak (91-for-223), with 15 home runs and 55 runs batted in.

Hugh Yancy

Hugh Yancy (born October 16, 1949 in Sarasota, Florida) is an American former professional baseball player. He appeared in 7 games spread across 3 seasons in Major League Baseball for the Chicago White Sox between 1972 and 1976. He bats and throws right-handed.

The Chicago White Sox drafted Yancy in the 1968 Major League Baseball Draft. In 1972, he appeared in three games as a second baseman, getting one hit in nine at bats. In 1974, he appeared in one game as a pinch hitter, executing a sacrifice bunt in his lone plate appearance. Then, in 1976, he appeared in three more games as a third baseman, getting one hit in ten at-bats.

After the 1976 season, Yancy was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, but never again played in the major leagues. He played one season in the Reds organization, then played in the Cleveland Indians organization in 1978-79 before retiring.

Jackie Brandt

John George Brandt Jr. (born April 28, 1934), is an American former professional baseball outfielder, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the St. Louis Cardinals (1956), New York Giants (1956), San Francisco Giants (1958–1959), Baltimore Orioles (1960–1965), Philadelphia Phillies (1966–1967), and Houston Astros (1967). He was originally signed by the Cardinals, as an amateur free agent, before the 1953 season.

Brandt made his big league debut on April 21, 1956, against the Milwaukee Braves at Sportsman's Park, then was traded to the New York Giants, almost two months later. In a noteworthy rookie season, he posted a .298 batting average (BA), 125 games played (G), 12 home runs (HR), and 50 runs batted in (RBI). In 1959, he won a Gold Glove for his stellar play as the San Francisco Giants regular left fielder, then was traded to Baltimore, where he would have his most productive years.

Brandt’s best season was 1961, when he was named to the American League (AL) All-Star team. He finished ninth in the AL batting race, with a .297 BA, and he had several career highs, including 153 hits (H), 516 at bats (AB), 73 RBI, 93 runs scored (R), and a .371 on-base percentage (OBP). The Orioles had a great year, winning 95 games and losing only 67.

One of Brandt’s most memorable games took place at Baltimore Memorial Stadium, on September 12, 1964. He drove in the only run in a rare battle of complete game one-hitters between Orioles left-hander Frank Bertaina and Kansas City Athletics southpaw Bob Meyer. Teammate Bob Saverine entered the 0-0 game in the bottom of the 8th inning, as a pinch runner for John Orsino, who had doubled. Saverine advanced to third on a Bertaina sacrifice bunt, then scored when Brandt hit a sacrifice fly to right field.Brandt achieved career statistical totals which include 1,221 G, 1,020 H, 112 HR, 485 RBI, 540 R, a .262 BA, and a slugging percentage of .412.

As a Phillie, Brandt was the last player to bat against Sandy Koufax, during a regular-season game, striking out for the final out of the 1966 regular season finale.

List of Major League Baseball career at-bat leaders

In baseball, an at bat (AB) or time at bat is a batter's turn batting against a pitcher. An at bat is different from a plate appearance. A batter is credited with a plate appearance regardless of what happens during his turn at bat. A batter is only credited with an at bat if that plate appearance does not have one of the results enumerated below:

He receives a base on balls (BB).

He is hit by a pitch (HBP).

He hits a sacrifice fly or a sacrifice bunt (also known as sacrifice hit).

He is awarded first base due to interference or obstruction, usually by the catcher.

He is replaced by another hitter before his at bat is completed, in which case the plate appearance and any related statistics go to the pinch hitter (unless he is replaced with two strikes and his replacement completes a strikeout, in which case the at bat and strikeout are still charged to the first batter).While at bats are used to calculate certain statistics, including batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, a player can only qualify for the season-ending rankings in these categories if he accumulates 502 plate appearances during the season.Pete Rose is the all-time leader in at bats with 14,053. Rose is also the only player in MLB history with more than 13,000 or 14,000 at bats. There are only 29 players in MLB history that have reached 10,000 career at bats, with Albert Pujols being the only one active.

List of Major League Baseball single-game runs batted in leaders

In baseball, a run batted in (RBI) is awarded to a batter for each runner who scores as a result of the batter's action, including a hit, fielder's choice, sacrifice fly, sacrifice bunt, catcher's interference, or a walk or hit by pitch with the bases loaded. A batter is also awarded an RBI for scoring himself upon hitting a home run. Sixteen players have batted in at least 10 runs in a single Major League Baseball (MLB) game to date, the most recent being Mark Reynolds of the Washington Nationals on July 6, 2018. No player has accomplished the feat more than once in his career and no player has ever recorded more than 12 RBIs in a game. Wilbert Robinson was the first player to record at least 10 RBIs in a single game, driving in 11 runs for the Baltimore Orioles against the St. Louis Browns on June 10, 1892.As of 2018, every team that has had a player achieve the milestone has won the game in which it occurred. These games have resulted in other single-game MLB records being set due to the stellar offensive performance. Robinson, for example, also amassed seven hits in that same game, setting a new major league record that has since been tied by only one other player. Mark Whiten hit four home runs to complement his 12 RBIs for the St. Louis Cardinals on September 7, 1993, tying the single-game records in both categories. By attaining both milestones, he became one of only two players to hit four home runs and drive in 10 or more runs in the same game, with Scooter Gennett being the other. Tony Lazzeri, Rudy York, and Nomar Garciaparra hit two grand slams during their 10 RBI game, equaling the record for most grand slams in one game. Norm Zauchin has the fewest career RBIs among players who have 10 RBIs in one game with 159, while Alex Rodriguez, with 2,086, drove in more runs than any other player in this group and hit the third most in major league history.Of the eight players eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame who have batted in 10 runs in a game, four have been elected and one was elected on the first ballot. Players are eligible for the Hall of Fame if they have played in at least 10 MLB seasons, and have either been retired for five seasons or deceased for at least six months. These requirements leave three players ineligible who are living and have played in the past five seasons and two—Phil Weintraub and Zauchin—who did not play in 10 seasons.

Rey Sánchez

Rey Francisco Guadalupe Sánchez (born October 5, 1967) is a former Major League Baseball infielder. He attended high school in California and was drafted in the 13th round of the 1986 amateur baseball draft by the Texas Rangers. He played in their minor league system until 1990, when he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for minor leaguer Bryan House. In 1991, he broke through to the majors, playing 13 games. He continued to play there, often on a regular basis until August 16, 1997, when he was traded to the New York Yankees for minor leaguer Frisco Parotte. He finished the season there, and then started to become a journeyman. He played (in order) in a season for the San Francisco Giants, two and a half seasons for the Kansas City Royals, 50 games for the Atlanta Braves, and a season for the Boston Red Sox. In 2003, he played 56 and 46 games for the New York Mets (where he allegedly received a controversial haircut during a game [1]) and Seattle Mariners, respectively, and moved on to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for 2004. He became a Yankee for the second time in 2005.

He spent most of his career occasionally starting, replacing injured players, and pinch hitting at shortstop, second base, and third base, although he consistently started at shortstop for the Royals and Braves, and consistently started at second base for the Red Sox. Other than this, he played any infield position off the bench. He had a career .271 batting average and only 15 home runs through 15 years experience. He was often used for his ability to successfully perform the sacrifice bunt.

Run batted in

A run batted in (RBI), plural runs batted in (RBI or RBIs), is a statistic in baseball and softball that credits a batter for making a play that allows a run to be scored (except in certain situations such as when an error is made on the play). For example, if the batter bats a base hit, then another player on a higher base can head home to score a run, and the batter gets credited with batting in that run.

Before the 1920 Major League Baseball season, runs batted in were not an official baseball statistic. Nevertheless, the RBI statistic was tabulated—unofficially—from 1907 through 1919 by baseball writer Ernie Lanigan, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.Common nicknames for an RBI include "ribby" (or "ribbie"), "rib", and "ribeye". The plural of RBI is generally "RBIs", although some commentators use "RBI" as both singular and plural, as it can also stand for "runs batted in".

Sacrifice fly

In baseball, a sacrifice fly (sometimes abbreviated to sac fly) is defined by Rule 9.08(d) :

"Score a sacrifice fly when, before two are out, the batter hits a ball in flight handled by an outfielder or an infielder running in the outfield in fair or foul territory that

is caught, and a run scores after the catch, or

is dropped, and a runner scores, if in the scorer's judgment the runner could have scored after the catch had the fly ball been caught."It is called a "sacrifice" fly because the batter allows a teammate to score a run, while sacrificing his own ability to do so. Sacrifice flies are traditionally recorded in box scores with the designation "SF".

Sean Lowe (baseball)

Jonathan Sean Lowe (born March 29, 1971) is a former pitcher in Major League Baseball who played from 1997 through 2003 for the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals.

Lowe attended Mesquite High School in Mesquite, Texas, where he graduated in 1989.Lowe was drafted by the Cardinals in the first round (15th pick) of the 1992 Major League Baseball Draft. Lowe finished his seven-year MLB career with a 23-15 record, a 4.95 ERA and 288 strikeouts. He was primarily used in middle relief during his career.

Besides, Lowe played his first professional season with their Class A (Short Season) Hamilton Redbirds in 1992, and his last with the Triple-A Omaha Royals in 2003. Lowe's unique spot in baseball immortality occurred on 16 June 2001, against the St. Louis Cardinals, when Albert Pujols recorded his first, and what may yet be his only, sacrifice bunt against Lowe.

Small ball (baseball)

In the sport of baseball, small ball is an informal term for an offensive strategy in which the batting team emphasizes placing runners on base and then advancing them into scoring position for a run in a deliberate, methodical way. This strategy places a high value on individual runs and attempts to score them without requiring extra base hits, or sometimes without base hits at all, instead using bases on balls, stolen bases, sacrifice bunt or sacrifice fly balls, the hit-and-run play, and aggressive baserunning with such plays as the contact play. A commonly used term for a run produced playing small ball is a "manufactured run". This style of play is more often found in National League game situations than in the American League due in large part to the absence of the designated hitter in the National League.

However, the 2014-2015 Kansas City Royals are the most recent example of a team with a small ball orientation.

A team may incorporate a small-ball strategy for a variety of reasons, including:

The team is confident that their pitching staff will allow very few runs, thus one or two runs may win the game.

The opposing pitching staff allows few hits, especially extra-base hits, and small ball may be the best way to score runs at all.

The team lacks consistent hitters and must find a way to score runs with few base hits.

The team has several members who are very quick and are likely to steal bases, or go from first base to third base on a single.

The team is in the late innings of a close game and a single run will tie the game, break a tie, or extend a narrow lead.Most commonly, managers will switch to small-ball tactics while a game is in progress, doing so upon the convergence of a variety of factors including having appropriate hitters coming up next in the batting order and, often, having fast runners already on base. A team could also start the game with the intention of playing small ball but then change from this strategy at some point during a game, depending on circumstances, such as when the opposing pitcher is struggling or has left the game or when the team is ahead or behind by several runs.

Squeeze play (baseball)

In baseball, the squeeze play (a.k.a. squeeze bunt) is a maneuver consisting of a sacrifice bunt with a runner on third base. The batter bunts the ball, expecting to be thrown out at first base, but providing the runner on third base an opportunity to score. Such a bunt is uncommon with two outs because there is a significant chance that the batter would be thrown out at first base, ending the inning. Likewise, such an attempt is unlikely with two strikes because a bunt that is fouled off with two strikes is an automatic strike out. According to Baseball Almanac, the squeeze play was invented in 1894 by George Case and Dutch Carter during a college game at Yale University.In a safety squeeze, the runner at third takes a lead, but does not take off until the batter makes contact bunting, waiting for more certainty that the ball will go to a location from which it will be difficult for the fielding team to make an out at home plate.

In a suicide squeeze, the runner takes off as soon as the pitcher begins the windup to throw the pitch, and before releasing the ball. If properly executed, and the batter bunts the ball nearly anywhere in fair territory, a play at home plate is extremely unlikely. However, if the batter fails to make contact with the pitch, the runner is likely to be put out at home plate (hence, "suicide"). Therefore, the suicide squeeze usually requires a skilled bunter who can make contact consistently, even on difficult pitches.

These plays are often used in the late innings of a close game in order to score a tying, winning, or insurance run.

In a squeeze situation, when the batter squares around to bunt, the textbook play for the pitcher (who has started the windup and is committed to throw to the plate) is to throw the ball directly at the batter’s head. This forces the batter to hit the ground or otherwise get out of the way, allowing the catcher to receive the pitch and tag out the incoming runner.

Tracy Baker

Trace Lee "Tracy" Baker (November 7, 1891 – March 14, 1975) was a first baseman in Major League Baseball who played for the Boston Red Sox. Baker batted and threw right-handed. He was born in Pendleton, Oregon, and studied at the University of Washington, where he played college baseball for the Huskies in 1910.Of the more than 16,000 players in major league history, Baker is also among the 900-plus players in the Elias Sports Bureau registry who got into only one game. He was 19 years old. Baker's one big-league game came on June 19, 1911. In his only plate appearance, he executed a sacrifice bunt. On the field he made four putouts without committing an error.

Baker died in Placerville, California, at the age of 83.

Wheel play

The wheel play is a baseball strategy designed to defend against a sacrifice bunt (or tap hit) in a close game in situations in which the offense has a runner on second (or sometimes runners on first and second) and there are no outs (or occasionally with one out). This circumstance can make it imperative for the defense to get the lead runner out because the offense can score without a hit if there is a man at third base with fewer than two outs. The play's name derives from the wheel-like rotation of the infielders.

The wheel play is a unique bunt defense in that the play is designed to get the lead runner out at third. Most bunt defense strategies give the priority to making sure the team gets one out at first. The play begins with the shortstop breaking to cover third base. As the pitch is thrown, the third and first basemen rush toward home plate to be able to field the bunted ball as quickly as possible while the second basemen runs to cover first base. Additionally, the pitcher moves to back up the fielder on the side his pitching momentum carries him towards.Ideally for the defense, if the ball is bunted, it goes directly to one of the charging fielders only a few feet past home plate. If it is bunted right at a fielder, the play is to throw to the shortstop (covering third base) for the tag or force out if permitted by the existence of a trail runner.

The offense may try to defeat the wheel play in one of several ways.

If the offense suspects the defense will put on the wheel play, and sees the shortstop break for third too early or too late, it may send the runner(s) on a straight steal. If the shortstop leaves early, the runner on second will take a "walking lead" off the second base bag, and can be most or all of the way to third when the catcher takes the pitch. If the shortstop leaves too late, the man on second runs with the expectation that the shortstop cannot acquire position to take the throw on the steal.The key for the defense is for the pitcher to use the inside pickoff move once, or a few times, to keep the runner at 2nd from straying toward third too early and perhaps picking him off. Either way, the effort by the catcher to throw to a moving target, the shortstop opens the possibility of an error, permitting additional advancement on the bases. Additionally, a man on first takes second without contest, as it will be uncovered. But if the shortstop has the play timed right, the runner from second will be caught stealing, generally with ease.

Alternately, the offense can send the runners towards the next base while instructing the hitter to use a "butcher boy" swing—show a bunting stance as the pitcher begins his delivery, but twist back and swing in full as the pitch arrives. The objective is to put a batted ball into the vacated middle of the field and produce a multiple base advance by the runners. However, because the hitter is moving so much, and since hitters called upon to bunt are often among the weakest hitters on the team, it is unusual for the "butcher boy" swing to yield the requisite batted ball, and more common for it to result in a swinging or fouled strike. That event subsequently limits a hitter's options as the at-bat proceeds, especially if he now has two strikes, which often nullifies a bunting strategy (A ball bunted foul with 2 strikes, results in a called 3rd strike).

Defenses generally do not rely on the wheel play in bunt situations where the bunter is deemed a good enough hitter to be able to execute the "butcher boy" swing. Instead, the third baseman and shortstop will hold their positions, and the defense will rely on the pitcher to field the ball, and concede an advance to third if the bunt is well executed.

One of the earliest recorded instances of the wheel play being used in the major leagues was when it was executed by the Pittsburgh Pirates against the St. Louis Cardinals on August 14, 1960, resulting, as reported by The Pittsburgh Press, in "an electrifying double play [...] that had the 36,775 fans screaming." Several Pirate players and coaches said they had never seen the play before, but the Pirate players who executed the play attributed the original idea to former Cubs manager Charlie Grimm, who they thought used it in 1950.

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