Insider Report

Batted Ball Deflects off Pitcher and Umpire on Same Play

Batted balls deflected by fielders, runners or umpires cause lots of problems. Knowing what to do when a batted ball is deflected could win you a ball game.

If a batted ball that deflects off the pitcher hits the runner going to a base, the ball would remain in play. The runner is not out but must still avoid the fielder if the fielder has a chance to make a play on the ball, meaning the fielder does not have to chase the ball and is within reach of the ball.

The Dayton Dragons (Reds) played the South Bend Cubs in a Class A Midwest League game this past August.  With a runner on first base, the batter hit a shot that deflected off the pitcher before striking the second base umpire. The ball then rolled to the shortstop near second base. The shortstop fielded the ball, stepped on second and threw to first for the odd 1-6-6-3 double play. Because the ball deflected off the…

Did the Umpire Misinterpret Backswing Batter Interference?

Backswing interference is a commonly misinterpreted rule. There are two types of batter interference. Type A batter interference is common: A batter is out for illegal action when he interferes with the catcher’s fielding or throwing by stepping out of the batter’s box or making any other movement that hinders the catcher’s play at home base.

Type B backswing interference is less common: If a batter strikes at the ball and misses and swings so hard he carries the bat all the way around and, in the umpire’s judgment, unintentionally hits the catcher or the ball in back of him on the backswing, it shall be called a strike only (not interference). This is also a delayed dead ball. If the catcher throws out a runner who is attempting to steal after he was interfered with by the backswing, the out counts and the batter remains at bat just like Type A. However, if the catcher does not throw out the runner, the runner returns to his base and the batter remains at bat without penalty unless it is “strike three” in which case only the batter is out.

In my opinion the umpire in the Blue Jays-Angels game on April 24, 2017, misinterpreted a backswing interference call that might have affected the outcome of the game in the Blue Jays 2-1 loss.   There is a distinction between two types of batter interference covered in rule 6.03 (a) (3) and (4) Comment: For the sake of clarity, I’ll call them Type A and Type B. This is my terminology to establish clarity and…

Balk Ruled When Pitcher Throws to 3B and Fielder is Too Far from the Base

A legitimate pick-off attempt requires that the base to which the pitcher throws is covered by a fielder. The umpire must make a determination if the fielder is close enough to the base to retire the runner with the throw. If not, a balk should be called.

By rule, the pitcher is charged with a balk while in contact with the rubber when he throws to the first baseman or third baseman who is either in front of or behind the base and obviously not making an attempt to retire the runner at that base.  Several years ago the rule was only directed at the first baseman but was subsequently changed to include the third baseman. In the Yankees- Orioles game on…

The Dangerous Batter-Runner First Baseman Collision

The 45 foot runners’ lane between home and first base can be a dangerous part of the baseball field. Controversial plays are common in this area and umpires, coaches, managers and players must thoroughly understand this rule to minimize injury. Basically, the batter-runner must stay in the runner’s lane or risk being called for interference on a throw to first base.

You might recall in my spring training presentation that I strongly endorsed the idea of having the first baseman (or second baseman) who is taking the throw from the catcher or the pitcher in the bunt area, to take the throw from a stretch position to the fair side of the foul line to avoid injury and to receive the ball sooner. This of course would involve a late developing play that results in a…

WHEN A CATCHER DEFLECTS A PITCHED BALL

When a pitched ball caroms off the catcher and rolls into dead ball territory, the award for the runner/runners is one base from their position at the time the pitch was delivered unless the catcher kicks, pushes or deflects the ball into dead ball territory in which case the award becomes two bases from the position of the runner/runners at the time of the pitch. If a catcher is judged to intentionally push, deflect or kick the ball into dead ball territory, the runners are awarded two bases from the time the ball was kicked or deflected.

Catcher Deflections When a pitched ball caroms off the catcher and rolls into dead ball territory, the award for the runner/runners is one base from their position at the time the pitch was delivered unless the catcher kicks, pushes or deflects the ball into dead ball territory in which case the award becomes two bases from the position of the runner/runners at the time of the pitch. If a catcher is judged to intentionally push,…

NEW RULE 2017 – SET VS WINDUP POSITION

The new rule for pitchers using the set position vs the windup position with runners on base is defined here. The pitcher must notify the umpire that he will be pitching from the windup position or it is assumed he is pitching from the stretch.

In recent years, several pitchers have gone to a modified set/windup position by positioning their pivot foot on the rubber and their free foot in front of the rubber. This can be especially confusing to the runner. Because of this, MLB invoked the following rule revision for the 2017 season. SET VS. WINDUP POSITION Rule 5.07(2) [former Rule 8.01(b)]: The comment to Rule 5.07(a)(2) states, in part, that, “With a runner or runners on base,…

The New Baseline Rule for 2017

This article summarizes the Official Baseball Rules’ changes for 2017 as it relates to runners called out for being out of the baseline. An attempted tag by the field is no longer required for the umpire to rule the runner out for deviating from his base path.

Any runner is out when he runs more than three-feet away from his base path to avoid being tagged unless his 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 he is attempting to reach safely. Until the 2017 season, the defensive player had to make a definitive tag attempt…

Runner on First Attempts to Go to Second Base on Dropped Third Strike

When a batter strikes out on a dropped third strike and first base is occupied with less than two outs, the batter is automatically out. The rule is a close cousin of the Infield Fly rule. It is designed to protect the runners. Without the rule, a catcher could intentionally drop a third strike and turn it into double play or triple play in the same way an infielder could intentionally drop an Infield Fly…

Batter Interference Coaching Tips

Concise list of coaching tips about batter interference. Rich Marazzi lists the difference interpretations for batter interference depending on whether a throw is to retire a runner stealing a base or an attempt to pick the runner off an existing base.

When ruling on batter interference, the plate umpire must distinguish if the catcher’s throw was to prevent a stolen base or to pick-off a runner on a base. He must consider the following:                                            Throw to Prevent a Stolen Base Any movement that hinders the catcher’s play can constitute batter interference. This is true even if the batter remains in the batter’s box. The batter can leave the batter’s box and it is only…

Runner Continues to Run after Being Called Out

The following play occurred recently in the Class A California League between the Modesto Nuts and the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. With the bases loaded and one out, the Quakes’ batter hit a ground ball over the third base bag that was fielded by the third baseman who stepped on third and threw in the dirt past first base. The runner, who was on second at the start of play, was forced out at third but…