Which is proven to be the more difficult task, bunting a rise ball or bunting a drop ball? Rise ball was probably the first answer to pop into your head. Since we were little, it has been engrained in our heads as pitchers and bunters that you can expect a high pitch in a bunting situation. Why? If batters are expecting a high pitch in a bunting situation, wouldn’t it make more sense to throw the opposite?
There are many different ways to execute a bunt. It all depends on the coach and their coaching style. I’ve seen batters square around to bunt with their bat head flat, at a 45-degree angle, with both hands gripping the middle of the bat and even some behind the back action. There is no right way to teach bunting, so why teach pitchers one way to deliver the pitch in a bunting situation?
From personal experience as a drop ball pitcher, it’s very difficult for batters to bunt drop balls. Bunters are taught to keep their eyes level with their bat when they square around and get into their bunting stance. Even if the batter bends their knees and is in an athletic position to attempt the bunt, only a few will actually bend their knees without dropping their bat towards the dropping ball. It’s actually extremely difficult to do, and if you insert a drop ball pitcher with speed and the ability to hit the outside corner it becomes nearly impossible. The average hitter will let go of their top hand and wave their bat at drop balls in bunting situations.
Drop balls aren’t as expected in bunting situations as rise balls. Bunters are taught to get on top of the ball when they are attempting to bunt. What happens when a drop ball gets thrown at them? Drop balls have down spin, so even if a hitter is able to stay on top with their bat, it’s going to be difficult for them to put the ball into fair territory. As a drop ball pitcher myself, I have witnessed my catchers take a beating on ricochets off the bat.
Another reason why I believe drop balls are more difficult to bunt than rise balls is that not many pitchers can throw a convincing rise ball. Pitchers, especially those at the club and high school levels don’t have enough velocity to make a rise ball truly rise. Many are just throwing a high fastball out of the zone that starts high and well, stays high. These “rise balls” are easier for a bunter to pick up on as the ball is traveling at them and most will know to pull back and are awarded with a ball to their count. Drop balls come out of the hand looking like a fastball or a pitch on plane looking more like a strike. Bunters are less likely to pull back on a drop ball.
So I will ask again, which is proven to be the more difficult task, bunting a rise ball or bunting a drop ball? It’s time to break free of the norm of throwing high pitches in bunting situations. Will you get more bunt pop-ups if you are throwing something high? Maybe. Is it more difficult for bunters to successfully put a bunt in play off a drop ball? The answer is yes.