Suicide Squeeze Bunt: All You Should Know From A To Z!
- Updated: March 28, 2013
A major advantage of the suicide squeeze bunt over the safety squeeze bunt is that the bunter does not have to make an exceptionally good bunt to get the runner in from third base on the suicide squeeze.
Many very good baseball authorities will teach their base runner on third base to break for the plate as soon as the pitcher goes into his full windup. They will even tell you they researched the suicide squeeze bunt and that’s how it got its name of suicide squeeze, because the base runner should break very early. In my humble opinion, I say that is pure poppycock! That is not what I teach players and please read further and kindly allow me to explain why.
Base Runner’s Responsibility:
The base runner on third should not start sprinting for the plate until just before the pitcher’s release. If he leaves earlier, a pitcher of average intelligence or higher will make the necessary adjustment and the base runner will be hung out to dry. If I’m in my windup and see a runner is sprinting for home, you can bet your last dollar that the batter will not get a pitch that he is able to bunt. I will simply throw the pitch two feet inside off the plate to a right-handed hitter or two feet outside to a left-handed hitter. The pitch will be on the third base side of home plate and the base runner will be in no man’s land when my catcher is waiting there for him with the baseball. Let’s face it, how many base runners actually steal home? My teaching method is by my own admission, different than most others but I won’t waver a bit. Usually I’m a baseball traditionalist but occasionally I will go my own way.
The batter should square around just before the ball is released by the pitcher and not earlier than that. If he squares around too early, the pitcher will know he is bunting and so will the entire defense. You don’t have to be nearly as precise with your bunt as compared to bunting for a hit or sacrifice bunting. One of the better baseball hitting tips is that the batter should aim for the middle of the field because the ball must be put in play and this is not a time to be too fancy. Very seldom will you see a pitcher field the bunt and throw out the runner at the plate on the suicide squeeze, unless the ball was bunted much too strongly. Keep it simple and just put the baseball in play.
The Count On The Batter:
Preferably, you want your batter to be ahead in the count when attempting the suicide squeeze. That lessens the chance of a pitch out. Bad counts would be 0-1, 0-2 or 1-2. Very good counts are 1-0 and 2-1. Be careful with counts of 2-0 and 3-1. Your batter may very well be seeing a very good pitch to hit on those two hitter’s counts and you may not want to have your hitter bunting.
Chance Of Success:
If the base runner breaks at the right time and the batter puts the ball in play, there is very little chance to prevent the run from scoring. If you have an adequate bunter at the plate, you should be successful by far the majority of the time.
Getting The Sign From Your Coach:
As a hitter, you should get the sign as early as possible from your third base coach. The later you get the sign, the more the defense has time to realize something may be on, when they watch you looking to the coach just before the pitch. The thing you want to really avoid is having the coach repeat the signs. This really gets the defense thinking something is going on. You want to avoid any possible suspicion. If the base runner and the batter start to act like Bonnie and Clyde parked outside a bank, they have blown the element of surprise!
Number Of Outs:
One out is by far the best time to put on the suicide squeeze. With no outs, there are too many other ways to score and if the suicide squeeze backfires, you may have possibly ruined a potentially big inning. With no outs, the pitcher and the team in the field have a problem. Let them get themselves out of trouble and avoid giving them an easy way out. If the three worst hitters on the planet are coming up, I would still not opt for the suicide squeeze with no outs.
What The Base Runner Should And Should NOT Do:
The base runner should not break for home until the pitcher is a fraction of a second away from releasing the ball. You can’t let the pitcher know that you are running or he will throw a pitch that your hitter will not be able to bunt. Pitchers are usually quite smart. As a base runner, you want to get a walking lead but don’t sprint to the plate until just before release. If the base runner has a good lead and the ball is bunted on the ground, very seldom will the base runner be thrown out at the plate.
Three Great Times For The Suicide Squeeze:
1. I love putting on the suicide squeeze after something out of the ordinary has just occurred, such as a disputed call where an argument has just taken place. There is a very good chance that everybody in the ball park is still talking and thinking about the controversial play and nobody is thinking about the suicide squeeze possibility. A perfect time with a very high rate of success!
2. After the team in the field has just made an error or two on the previous play or plays. They may be a little “rattled” already and may very well be “rattled” again when you put on the suicide squeeze.
3. After there has been any type of play stoppage, such as an injury, rain delay, pitching change, etc.
In the three scenarios listed above, the element of surprise could very well work in your favor and increase your chance of a successful “suicide squeeze.”