Is there a reason to bat people in a particular order?
Each batter in a lineup has a particular job.
1 - The leadoff batter is responsible for reaching base after making the pitcher throw as many pitches as possible. This elongation of the at bat is helpful for the rest of the lineup to see how and what the pitcher is throwing.
2 - This batter is responsible for moving the leadoff batter into scoring position (to at least second base).
3 - This spot is reserved for the best hitter on the team, for a few reasons. First, if the first two batters make outs then this batter, being the best, may be able to produce an extra base hit (at least double) continuing the possibility of scoring. Second, if either of the first two batters are on base, it becomes the third batter's responsibility to continue moving them around the bases.
4 - This is the most powerful batter, the cleanup position, the homerun hitter. If the first three have reached base it may be that the bases are loaded when the four batter reaches the plate. Having a homerun hitter batting fourth makes it possible for a grand slam (a homerun where four runs score) to be hit.
The 2, 3 and 4 batters are nicknamed the heart or meat of the order.
5, 6, 7 - These batters are a mix of power and contact hitters. They are to continue rallies and start new ones if the first three batters weren't effective.
8 - In the National League this batter needs to be a consistent contact hitter and have the ability to hit all type of pitches because with the pitcher up next it is easier to pitch around this batter. Nevertheless, this batter most often has the lowest batting average or is going through the biggest slump. When a team has an excellent bottom of the order (7, 8, 9 batters) they are truly an offensive powerhouse.
9 - In the National League this is usually reserved for the pitcher, but that is not a rule. When the pitcher occupies this spot he generally sacrifices his at bat to advance runners. Later in the game, when the pitcher is ready to come out of the game, pinch hitters are used here in order to increase the team's offensive capabilities. In the American League this serves as a second leadoff batter to give the #3 batter a greater chance to knock in runs.
What is the purpose of a bunt?
Bunting is useful for many things.
a - Bunting for a single is possible when the infield is playing back (further away from home plate) and the batter is a fast runner. Left-handed batters have an advantage in bunting for a single, the drag bunt. This is when the pitch is on the way to the plate the batter begins to run toward first, moves his hand up the barrel of the bat, and tries to pull the bunt up the first base line.
b - The sacrifice bunt is anytime the batter squares around to bunt and bunts the ball in play advancing a runner to the next base.
c - The suicide squeeze is a bunt with a runner on third where the runner begins to run home before the bunt is laid down guaranteeing a run as long as the ball is bunted on the ground into fair territory.
When is a good time to steal a base? (and when is it a bad idea?)
There are many situations where stealing is an option, the following are the most common.
a - It is ALWAYS a good idea to take a base if the defense is giving it to you. By giving it to you we mean the pitcher and/or the fielders who should be covering the base are ignoring you.
b - A cardinal rule of baseball is: NEVER make the first or third out at third base. Keeping that in mind there only a few times, other than previously stated, that stealing third is appropriate even though it is easier to steal third than to steal second. The reason for this is a single usually scores a runner from second.
c - Stealing second removes the chance of a double play. It is a very good idea to steal second with two outs when the batter has two strikes. If you are caught, the batter starts with a new count the next inning, if you make it you are now in scoring position so a single produces a run.
d - A variation of the steal is the hit and run, where the batter tries to poke a single through the hole in the infield that is made by the fielder that covers the base for the steal. This usually requires the batter to "go the other way", or push the ball away from the batter's pull field (the pull field is left field for a righty and right filed for a lefty) with the pitch.