Small ball, a style of play that prioritizes strategic bunting and base-running over power hitting, has been the Arizona Diamondbacks’ secret weapon in the playoffs. While they may be down 2-1 in the series, their success in the one game they won and in many playoff games can be attributed to their effective execution of small ball tactics.
A Surprise Bunt from Evan Longoria
In the third inning of a crucial game, Evan Longoria surprised everyone by laying down a bunt. This was a move he hadn’t made since 2014. The bunt’s significance was in moving the runner to second base, setting the stage for what would follow.
Creating Fear in the Opposition
Longoria’s bunt had a ripple effect. It put the opposing team, the Texas Rangers, on edge. The third baseman, Josh Young, was playing unusually close to the batter, expecting another bunt. When Longoria came up to bat again with a runner on second, the third baseman’s close proximity proved costly.
The Impact of Defensive Positioning
To understand the impact, we analyzed footage of Josh Young’s defensive positioning. In situations with a runner on second and no outs, Young consistently played well behind the bag. However, Longoria’s strategic bunt earlier in the game had altered the dynamics.
Turning the Tables
The Diamondbacks decided to exploit the situation further. Longoria bunted again, this time allowing the Rangers to get the out at first base. This move put another runner in scoring position. It became a cyclical process where the snake, symbolizing the Diamondbacks, kept wrapping itself around the Rangers.
The Speed Factor
As the small ball tactics unfolded, the speed and agility of the Diamondbacks came into play. Longoria’s ability to advance from second to home on a single hit added another run to their tally. The fear of the bunt had created a new level of uncertainty for the Rangers, and it had led to tangible results.
Small Ball’s Impact
The small ball strategy employed by the Diamondbacks, although not enough to secure the series lead, demonstrated the power of strategy and psychological pressure in baseball. One well-executed sack bunt by Longoria led to two more runs, all because of the fear of the bunt that had now been instilled in Young and the Rangers.
In conclusion, the Diamondbacks have shown that small ball is not just a relic of the past but a potent tool in modern baseball when executed with precision. While the series outcome is still uncertain, their small ball tactics have undoubtedly left a lasting impact on their opponents. Small ball, when played strategically, can be a deadly weapon in the hands of a skilled team.