May 13, 2023

Jose Ramirez Avoids Tag on Controversial Baseline Play

Controversial baseline plays in MLB explained

Jose Ramirez Avoids Tag on Controversial Baseline Play

Third base umpire Dan Iassogna ejected Twins manager Rocco Baldelli involving a running out of the baseline issue in the bottom of the 4th inning of the Twins-Guardians game on May 6, 2023. With no outs and runners on first and third, the Guardians’ Josh Naylor hit a ground ball to Twins third baseman Jose Miranda, who committed an error, prompting Guardians baserunner Jose Ramirez, the runner on first, to try for third base. As the return throw arrived to Miranda between second and third base, Ramirez moved to his right to successfully avoid the tag. The Guardians ultimately won the contest, 4-3.

Baldelli argued that Ramirez ran out of the baseline when avoiding Miranda’s tag attempt.

Ruleball Comments

  1. Regarding the above play, I don’t think Ramirez ran out of the baseline but it’s only an opinion. When viewing baseline plays, video can distort depth perception and distance. The umpire on the field has the best perspective.
  2. Official Baseball Rule 5.09(b)(1) states: “Any runner is out when they run more than three feet away from their base path to avoid being tagged unless their action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A runner’s base path is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base they are attempting to reach safely.”
  3. Notice that the Official Baseball Rules refers to the “baseline” as a base path. But nobody says a runner ran out of his base path. So, I am going to stick with “baseline.”
  4. A runner only has a restricted baseline under two conditions: (a) when he is avoiding a tag attempt, or (b) when he is in a rundown.
  5. As of 2017, the fielder no longer has to extend ball in glove or ball in hand toward the runner to create the restricted baseline. Under current rules, the tag attempt begins made the moment the fielder with control of the ball in his hand or glove, makes a motion toward the runner. At that point the runner’s baseline is an “imaginary” straight line to the base he is going to, and he cannot exceed 3-feet to either side of the line. Therefore, the runner has 6-feet of real estate he can use. This is always a judgment call, and it is not reviewable.
  6. During a rundown, the runner’s restricted baseline is a straight line to the base he is going to, and he cannot exceed 3-feet on either side of the line. When the runner changes direction, he has a new baseline. A wise runner in a rundown, should realize he has 6-feet to deal with and should be aware of a defensive player who fails to properly vacate when rotating. If a runner notices this, he should head-hunt the defensive player and draw the Type 1 obstruction call.
  7. In my opinion, the best way to avoid a tag is to fall to the ground. By doing so, it can buy time for a preceding runner to cross the plate in a “Time Play.” And regarding the 4-4-3 situation, often times the second baseman will throw to first to make sure he gets at least one out if the runner disappears from sight. On the throw to first, the runner who has fallen to the ground should regain his feet as soon as possible and get to second base.
  8. When possible, a runner should never avoid a tag by moving laterally from side-to-side. By doing so, the runner is exposing himself to the 3-foot rule.
  9. If a runner anticipates an imminent tag attempt, the runner should stretch his base path before heading directly to the base because he does not have a restricted baseline until the fielder with control of the ball makes movement toward the runner.

Running from First to Second

Runners need to know when their base path is not restricted. Example: The runner on first is picked-off the base so he takes off for second. In my opinion, the runner should run at the fielder’s target (glove) who is receiving the throw-usually the shortstop. The runner can legally do this because he is not avoiding a tag, nor is he in a rundown. He legally gets in the vision of the shortstop and makes the throw more challenging for the first baseman. Also, I do not believe many teams practice this play with a disruptive runner.

In the following play, watch how Rajai Davis successfully disrupts the throw by creating his own non-restrictive runner’s path.  This play occurred several years ago but I like to use it because it is a good teaching tool.


Another situation is when the first baseman attempts to execute the 3-3-6 or 3-6-3 DP. I would recommend, if time permits, the runner should head to second base in the direction of the fielder’s (usually the shortstop) target or glove.  Because the runner is not avoiding a tag, nor is he in a rundown, he should make use of his non-restrictive base path to hinder the vision of the fielder and raise the degree of difficulty for the first baseman’s throw.

Running Third to Home

How often do we see a runner remain in foul territory the entire distance from third to home when there’s a ground ball in the infield? By doing so, he is giving the fielder a free throwing lane. A smart runner will take his lead in foul territory. If the runner is going on contact and the batted ball is hit toward third base, in my opinion, once the batted ball gets by the runner, he should get into fair territory. He has a non-restrictive runner’s path and should take advantage of what the rules allow. By getting between the third baseman and the catcher, he is creating a great deal of pressure for the defensive team.

During the 2020 season, Paul Goldschmidt legally hindered the throw from third to home and scored. Again, how many teams practice this play with a disruptive runner?

Last season the Cardinals’ Andrew Knizner used the same running strategy and scored in the Sept. 17, 2022, game against the Reds. 


  1. Runners need to understand that unless they are avoiding a tag or are in a rundown, they have an unrestricted, liberal, runner’s path.
  2. When explaining the baseline rule, broadcasters and coaches need to simply say the following: “The runner only has a restricted baseline when he is avoiding a tag or is in a rundown. It is a straight line to the base he is going to, and he cannot exceed 3-feet on either side of the line.”
  3. I would like to see TV production crews design a graphic when showing the replay of a running out the baseline play. Make a straight line to the base the runner is going to and illustrate 3-foot arrows on each side of the line. It might be a challenge to calibrate the exact 6-foot wide lane, but any attempt will provide fans, players, and coaches on all levels with a better picture and understanding of the baseline rule. 

Rich Marazzi

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



I understand it’s a judgment call, but what constitutes being out of the 3 feet on either side of the runner’s base path? If the runner’s feet are outside, even if head and torso aren’t? Or vice versa? Is there an imaginary vertical wall in applying judgment?
What about the time of the tag. If the fielder lunges/dives to tag and runner is not outside the 3 feet, but then momentum takes the runner outside the 3 feet beyond the lunging tag attempt, should umpire judge the runner out for violation? This might be the case in this video, but it’s hard to tell. But if I’m U3, how should I attempt to judge it?

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