A beautiful swunt last week from Indians’ third baseman Alex Mortensen and a well-placed swunt from Chad Shultz both brought me to my feet in applause.
The swunt is a combination of a full swing and a bunt. It mostly happens accidently but can be done on purpose as well. To execute a swunt, the batter takes a complete swing at a pitch and connects with only the very top of the ball. He makes contact with his bat extended in front of the plate. This seemingly disastrous combination will often dribble the ball near the foul line and about halfway to either first or third base, depending on the handedness of the batter.
A properly-executed swunt is nearly indefensible. When done correctly, a swunted ball stops rolling far enough away from both the pitcher and third/first baseman as to ensure the batter will be safe at first. Probably the most advantageous detail of the swunt is that it is virtually unpredictable. Unlike normal bunts when the corner infielders and pitcher can see the hitter square around to bunt, giving them an extra step or two towards the ball, a swunt is only recognizable after the ball has been struck.
The swunt is a hidden gem in the game of baseball. Few players discover the awesome nature of the swunt as it is deemed too radical and unreliable by most players and coaches to attempt on a regular basis. The elegance of the swunt is found in its unpredictability and the dumbfounded looks of infielders as they pick up the unmoving ball and tip their caps to the savvy player and his base hit.
The Swift Current Indians start another WMBL championship quest this week as we take on the Lethbridge Bulls in the first round of playoffs. I cannot guarantee there will be any swunts executed or even attempted in this series. A good swunt is admirable, but a three-run homerun will overshadow it any day.
(Alex Tufts is a pitcher with Swift Current Indians of the Western Major Baseball League. His column will run every week during baseball season.)