August 18, 2022

Baserunner Hit Running to Second Base

A smart baserunner can take advantage of what the rules allow on the basepaths

Baserunner Hit Running to Second Base

The Rays and Orioles played in Baltimore on July 25, 2022. In the bottom of the fifth, the O’s had Adley Rutschman on third and Ryan Mountcastle on first and one out when Anthony Santander hit a ground ball to first baseman Ji-Man Choi. The Rays’ first baseman fired to second in an attempt to force Mountcastle. But the throw hit Mountcastle, and the ball careened out to left field. Rutschman scored on the play and Mountcastle, who changed his path slightly to second base, ended-up on third base.

Should Mountcastle have been called for interference? Should a double play have been called because of Mountcastle’s baserunning?

Ruleball Comments

  1. The answer to both of the above questions is “No.”
  2. Mountcastle was within his rights to change his path to second base because he had no restricted baseline in this situation.
  3. The only times a runner has a restricted baseline (a straight line to the base he is going to, and he has 3-feet on either side of the line) is when he is avoiding a tag or is in a rundown. Those two conditions did not present itself in the above play.
  4. This is smart Ruleball. In my opinion, it’s a good idea to run at the target of the fielder who is receiving the throw. By doing so, the runner is increasing the difficulty of the throw.
  5. Runners should take advantage of what the rules allow. In the above play, Mountcastle had a liberal path to the base because he did not have a restricted baseline. A runner on first advancing to second base can use this technique on a pick to first or attempting to disrupt the 3-6-3 or 3-3-6 DP. It is not necessary for a runner to run in a straight line from first to second. The runner should make the play challenging for the defense by legally obstructing the throwing lane.
  6. Runners advancing from third to home should also take advantage of the rule. If a runner is attempting to go home on contact and the ball is hit toward the third base bag, the runner, taking his lead in foul territory, should run on the fair side of the foul line once the ball has passed him. By doing so, he will get between the thrower (third baseman) and the receiver (catcher) and legally obstruct the throwing lane.

Rich Marazzi

Rules consultant/analyst:  D’backs, Nationals, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Rays, Red Sox, Rangers, Royals, Tigers, Twins, Yankees, Bally Sports, ESPN, YES, and NBC Sports Chicago.  

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