In Baseball, what is a Squeeze Play?
The squeeze play is a baseball strategy that was developed in the first half of the 20th century. Most experts agree that the first appearance of this strategy took place at the 1931 World Series. Jake Reid, who was the manager for the New York Yankees at the time, is credited with inventing and developing the technique.
The basic formula for a squeeze play involves a few simple components. These plays require a sacrifice bunt when there are current less than two outs posted for the inning. A runner must be on third base at the time that the bunt takes place. The goal of the play is for the player at home base to bunt the pitch in such a way that he or she will be thrown out at first base. In the interim, the runner one third is able to run for home and score a run for the team.
There are a couple of customized variations on the basic squeeze play that have been used in games ranging from Little League to World Series championships. One technique is referred to as a safety squeeze. As the name implies, this type of play involves the runner on third base remaining in place until the batter actually makes contact with the ball and the course of the bunt becomes obvious.
A riskier version of the squeeze play is the suicide squeeze. With this approach, the runner on third base begins to run as soon as the pitcher releases the ball and before the batter achieves a bunt. The hope is that the bunt will connect and move in a direction that is more or less between the pitcher and the first baseman. When this is the case, the third base runner normally is able to reach home plate and score a run. However, this type of play is very difficult to manage. More often than not, this variation on the squeeze play leads to the third base runner being put out while the batter makes his or her way to first base.
I love the suicide squeeze play. There is something about just committing to it and going for it not knowing what is going to happen that makes it so exciting. All the pressure is on the hitter and the runner could end up caught along the baseline. It really takes a lot of guts. Some managers almost never use it and others go for it all the time. That is how you know your manager is tough.
@chivebasil - You are so right about bunting. I played baseball through high school and college and I always struggled with my bunts. It is surprisingly difficult just to make contact, let alone try to hit the ball in a specific direction at a certain speed.
You also have to consider that lots of pitchers know a bunt is coming and will throw pitches that are specifically designed to be hard to bunt against. Bunting is a real challenge and the squeeze play is one of the trickiest in baseball. That is why its so thrilling when it works out.
Another thing to consider is how hard it is to bunt well. It looks simple to the casual observer. You just sort of hold your bat out there and stab at the ball. It might look something like the way your grandmother would go after a baseball. But a successful bunt takes as much hitting ability as driving a ball into a gap or the opposite field.
The squeeze play is one of the gutsiest in all of baseball and its one of the reasons I love the game so much. It looks pretty simple, but there are so many variable at work. A lot of times an opposing team can predict when a squeeze play is coming and will set up a specialized defense to try and stop it. When one works, it is really a feat of concentration, athletic ability and planning.
Post your comments