CINCINNATI — Joey Votto bunted for a base hit in Monday’s Reds game. It led to a run and a lot questions on why a guy with Votto’s power would bunt.
Bunting in an exhibition game in early March and bunting in a real game are two different things. But I think Votto may bunt on occasion once the season started. This is sure to spark further debate about his approach at the plate.
I noticed when the Reds started live batting practice that you were more likely to see Votto bunt than swing. Before I left Goodyear, I asked him if it's something he’d carry into the season.
“I want to be able to do things in the game when I want to do them,” Votto said. “I’m not going to waste at-bats. I’m not going to give away at-bats, give away an opportunity to help the team by attempting a bunt.
“I’m working on it with hopes to be able to do that whenever I want to keep the defense honest. More than anything, it’s a commentary on our times. We’ve got major shifting. We’ve got third basemen playing second and shortstops playing all over the place. It all depends on the situation and what the game calls for, but, if I’m capable of laying down a bunt, if I’ve improve that skill, I will.”
The theory makes sense if a third baseman is playing where the shortstop normally plays. If Votto gets a decent bunt down he can walk to first base. If he’s successful often enough, it may eventually draw the defense out of the shift.
Then again, no one has ever bunted for a home run. Votto is most likely to bunt with no outs. He’s hit 71 home runs with no outs.
By the way, Votto’s bunted seven times in the regular season. He was successful on three of the seven attempts.
John Fay is a freelance sports columnist. This column represents his opinion.