Fundamental baseball turns into 'hit-and-run' play

Fundamental baseball turns into 'hit-and-run' play

MINNEAPOLIS -- Torii Hunter was getting rave reviews on Opening Day after his "hit-and-run" single to the right side moved Austin Jackson from first to third base and set up a two-run first inning. However, it wasn't actually a hit-and-run play.

It wasn't even a reaction on Hunter's part seeing Jackson trying to steal second, according to Hunter. He was trying to hit it to the right side before Jackson took off.

"I was just trying to shoot that hole," said Hunter, referring to the gap that opened up when second baseman Brian Dozier scrambled to cover the bag. "I was just trying to get Austin over."

Plays like that could be the biggest benefit Jackson sees from having Hunter hitting behind him. According to the Bill James Handbook, Jackson went from first to third base 15 times in 43 chances last season, a low ratio for an everyday leadoff hitter with a .377 on-base percentage. Mike Trout, who batted in front of Hunter last year, went from first to third 28 times in 45 chances last year.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.