If a catcher is attempting to retire a runner, the batter may not in any way impede the catcher’s effort. Interference will be called on the batter even if the umpire feels the violation is unintentional. For instance, if the batter swings at a pitch and his swing momentum causes him to be off balance and he leans or falls across the plate, you might have batter’s interference.
The batter can be called for interference even if he stays in the batter’s box if he makes a movement that somehow impedes a catcher’s attempt to throw. This could be a case where the batter leans out over the plate while keeping his feet in the batter’s box. How this rule is enforced is a judgment by the umpire. However, for batter interference to be called, the catcher must attempt to throw a runner out.
KNOW THIS: If a batter interferes with a catcher’s throw but the throw still retires the runner, the interference is ignored.
Penalty for Batter’s Interference:
If batter interference is called and the catcher’s throw does not retire the runner, the batter is called out, the ball is dead, and all runners return to their previous base. If the pitch on which the interference is called is strike three, then the batter strikes out and the runner is called out, too.
Most opportunities for batter interference occur when a runner at 2B attempts to steal 3B. With a right-handed batter in the box, the catcher must throw across the right-handed batter’s box. The batter is not expected to disappear but he must not make any movement that hinders the catcher’s play.
KNOW THIS: A batter can be called for batter’s interference while never leaving the batter’s box.
Depending on the situation, with batter’s interference the batter or the runner might be called out.
Batter Interferes With Catcher’s Throw Back to the Pitcher:
If the batter interferes with the catcher’s throw to the pitcher by stepping out of the box and no runners attempting to advance, it is not interference. The umpire should call “Time” and rule the ball dead.
If the batter intentionally interferes with the catcher’s throw to the pitcher, interference should be called and the batter is out.
If there is no intent of interference on part of the batter and he or his bat is struck by the catcher’s throw to the pitcher, the ball remains alive and in play.
Catcher’s throw to pitcher hits batter’s bat.
Insider Reports: Batter Interference
Did Carlos Correa of the Astros commit batter’s interference and get away with it? Robin Ventura argued to no avail during this May 17, 2016 game between the Astros and White Sox.
When the batter interferes with the catcher, the catcher only needs to make an attempt to throw the ball. Read this Insider Report that details a play that happened in Game Four of the 2015 World Series.
One of the most bizarre plays in post season history occurred in Game 5 of the 2015 American League Division Series when catcher Russell Martin’s throw back to his pitcher struck Shin-Soo Choo’s bat and bounced onto the field of play. Read about this rare play and the confusion it caused in this excellent Rich Marazzi Insider Report.