August 13, 2020

Batter-Runner Beats the Throw but Steps on Fielder’s Foot! Safe or Out?

is the fielder's foot part of the base?

Batter-Runner Beats the Throw but Steps on Fielder’s Foot! Safe or Out?

Comments

David Brinegar

The runner is clearly out. The fielder in process of receiving the ball may block the bag. The runner must touch the bag and not simply pass it or pass over it. The example is much easier understood if you think about plays at home plate. Even force plays. The runner must touch the plate before the tag, or in this case before the ball arrives. It is up to the runner to navigate that path as long as the fielder is in the act of receiving the ball.

David Brinegar

Again think of how many times you have seen a runner have to come back to tag home plate after passing it. Makes no difference if it was a tag play or force. You gotta touch the bag.

Chris Welsh

This from a former MLB Umpire:
Just to be clear on this particular play no appeal is necessary the runner is out because the base was tagged before he touched it. A base is not “missed” until the runner has both feet on the ground beyond the base, then an appeal would be necessary.
A runner is considered to have passed a base if he has both feet on the ground beyond the back edge of the base or beyond the edge of the base in the direction in which he is advancing.

The direction the runner is advancing determines the edges of the base when defining when a runner has passed a base.

dstub

I disagree but with a different reasoning. This is a case of “He missed the base” which makes it an appeal play. If the runner got there before the throw, he can’t be out on a force play but if he missed the base he can be out on appeal. It is then up to the defense to make it clear that the play is an appeal play and simply using the attempted force play as the appeal play is insufficient (in a normal line-drive-pick him off first double play, the intent to appeal is made clear by the manner of the throw to first and the footwork of the first-baseman). So the right answer in your example is, “I don’t know. The play isn’t over yet.” We have to see if the defense makes a separate tag on the runner or on the base that was clearly prompted by the runner missing the base. If the runner touches the base before that, he’s safe. [I had this play except the batter just sailed over 1st base without touching it but was ahead of the throw. That play prompted a lot of deep discussion among all the umpiring experts high and low and this is what they came up with.]

Dave Johnson

The need to appeal the missed base was my first thought too, before deciding it’s moot because it’s obstruction.
But, yes, let’s say something like this happens and the umpire has decided it’s not obstruction. The runner is presumed to have attained the base at the moment he appears to touch it (i.e. steps next to the base, or on something on/near the base) OR, if he never appears to touch then he is presumed to have attained the base when his body appears to pass the location of the base (i.e. in the case of running right over the base or rounding it short). If there is a tag attempt on the runner, the umpire shall signal the runner “Safe” REGARDLESS of the missed touch. A clear and legal appeal is required to retire a runner for missing a base.

dstub

It’s not obstruction. The fielder making a play can block the base. Whatever it is, it is not obstruction, even under the Buster Posey rule.

Dave Johnson

This is clear obstruction. The fielder can’t impede the runner’s access to the base without possession of the ball, unless he’s in the act of receiving a throw AND in the umpire’s judgment must be in that position in order to receive the throw. I am NEVER going to judge that the first baseman has to have his foot blocking the entire bag in order to catch a throw.

“Rule 6.01(h ) Comment: If a fielder is about to receive a
thrown ball and if the ball is in flight directly toward and near
enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive
the ball he may be considered “in the act of fielding a ball.” It
is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether a
fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. After a fielder has made
an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the
“act of fielding” the ball. For example: An infielder dives at a
ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on
the ground and delays the progress of the runner, he very likely
has obstructed the runner. “

Dave Johnson

To be clear, I’m not saying all possible instances of a runner stepping on the fielder’s foot on top of the base are obstruction. However I’m saying THIS specific play is obstruction, because the fielder’s foot and leg completely blocked all access to the base for no reason required by the act of fielding the throw; the runner had no way to reach the base without somehow stepping over or around the fielder who was without possession of the ball. This is the very definition of obstruction. Because the runner clearly beat the throw, and failed to touch the base solely due to the fielder’s obstruction, I’m definitely calling obstruction here.
Now if the fielder provided the ordinary access to the base, with his foot only covering the inside part of the base, and the runner either purposely or clumsily stepped on the fielder’s foot despite having clear access to the rest of the base, and clearly did not touch any part of the base before the tag, then yes, absolutely, I’m calling him out. But that is clearly not what happened in the caseplay at hand.

Chris Welsh

Except the catcher who must leave a lane open for the runner unless the throw takes him into that lane.

dgrokos

So in theory a first baseman (or anybody covering a bag) can intentionally put themselves in a position to block the bag as long as they are “in the act” of receiving the throw?

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