June 18, 2024

Two Right of Way Plays in MLB in 2024

It's important to know when the defensive player has the "Right of Way."

Two Right of Way Plays in MLB in 2024

Right of Way Play No. 1

Player Comes out of Dugout and Interferes with Fielder

Rule 6.01 (b) rarely surfaces in the game of baseball. But it did in the June 9, 2024 game at Oakland where the A’s hosted the Blue Jays. The rule that is titled “Right of Way,” reads, “The players, coaches, or any member of the team at bat shall vacate any space (including both dugouts or bullpens) needed by a fielder who is attempting to field a batted or thrown ball. If a member of the team at bat (other than a runner) hinders a fielder’s attempt to catch or field a batted ball, the ball is dead, the batter is declared out and all runners return to the bases occupied at the time of the pitch. If a member of the team at bat (other than a runner) hinders a fielder’s attempt to field a thrown ball, the ball is dead, the runner on whom the play is being made shall be declared out and all runners return to the last legally occupied base at the time of the interference.”

The Blue Jays were batting in the top of the tenth leading 6-3. Davis Schneider was the batter facing Austin Adams with Isiah Kiner-Falefa on second base and one out. Schneider hit a pop fly in foul territory near the Jays dugout where A’s first baseman Tyler Soderstrom in pursuit of the ball collided with Toronto pitcher Yusei Kikuchi. Kikuchi, who was standing outside his own dugout, tried to get out of the way but made contact with Soderstrom who was chasing the foul fly. Schneider was called out per rule 6.01 (b) due to Kikuchi’s interference.

“I kind of realized last minute that the dugout in Oakland doesn’t have a fence,” Kikuchi said through a translator. “I just realized a little too late there. … Obviously I feel bad, and I want to apologize.”

High Home view:

Ruleball Comments

The umpires (Brian Knight, Chris Guccione, Gabe Morales, and Ryan Additon) huddled and properly invoked rule 6.01 (b)

Players need to be educated whether they are part of the game on the field or in the dugout, they must not hinder a defensive player from making a play. This includes on deck batters, base coaches, bullpen pitchers and catchers that are on the playing field, and dugout personnel.

It should be noted that if an opposing player or a teammate is falling into the dugout, anyone in the dugout can hold the player up to keep him from falling. The ball is dead. If the defensive player has possession of the ball, he cannot make a play from the dugout and any runner on base is awarded one base.

Right Of Way Play No. 2

Should Batter-Runner Interference Have Been Called on this Play?

In the top of the seventh of the June 9, 2024 game between the Dodgers and Yankees in New York, the Dodgers had runners on first and second and no outs. Kiké Hernández was facing Luke Walker when he hit a foul bunt to the third base of the foul line. Yankees catcher Jose Trevino pursued the ball and tripped over Hernandez who remained in the batter’s box while tracking the ball.

Plate umpire Nestor Ceja had no call.  Should interference have been called on Hernández for impeding Trevino?

Yankees manager Aaron Boone discussed the play with Ceja, but the call remained.

Open Side view:

Ruleball Comments

In my opinion, Boone had a good argument. Interference most likely should have been called because Hernández failed to immediately grant the Right of Way to Trevino who was attempting to make a play on the ball.

Rule 6.01 (a) (10) declares, “any batter or runner out for interference if they fail to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball, or intentionally interferes with a thrown ball.”

This is a Right of Way issue and in the above play Trevino had the Right of Way because he was the defensive player who was attempting to make a play.

Once the batter puts the ball in play, he is no longer a batter, he is a batter-runner and his rights to the batter’s box expire. He must avoid a fielder who is making a play.

This is a fairly common batter-runner interference because the batter-runner often times is fixated on the flight of the ball and fails to avoid the catcher who is attempting to make a play.

In such plays, the batter-runner needs to immediately locate the catcher and relinquish space to him. On fair batted balls over the plate area, the batter-runner often remains in the box and interferes with the catcher who is tracking the ball.

An exception is found in rule 6.01 (a) (10) Comment that reads, “When a catcher and batter-runner going to first base have contact when the catcher is fielding the ball, there is generally no violation, and nothing should be called. This rule relates to the famous Ed Armbrister/Carlton Fisk collision in the 1975 World Series.

In the Armrister/Fisk play, Armbrister was going to first base. In the Hernández /Trevino play, Hernández was not going to first base when he made contact with Trevino.

Rich Marazzi

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

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