Runners passing on bases
So this happened to me the other day. Not while scorekeeping, but unfortunately while umpiring a college game. Luckily this blog isn’t about game rules, so I’m not going to comment on whether me and my partners got the ruling completely correct (hint: we didn’t).
There were runners on 1st and 2nd when the batter hit a deep fly ball to centerfield. The runner on 1st went halfway while the runner on 2nd tagged up. The centerfielder got to the ball on the run (which caused the runner who was halfway between 1st and 2nd to start going back to 1st) and then he dropped the ball… which caused the batter to round 1st base at full speed. And yes, the batter passed the runner. This is a fairly rare occurrence, which happens in the MLB about once every couple of years or so (here is a complete list thanks to retrosheet.org). The correct ruling is that the player who is passing the other runner (in this case the batter) is out immediately and the play continues on. But how do you score that?
Well, the batter still gets credit for a hit. After all he made it to first base safely. And if any runs score on the play he gets the corresponding RBIs too. But who gets credit for the putout?
Scoring rule 10.08 (c) (4) says “When a runner is called out for passing another runner, the official scorer shall credit the putout to the fielder nearest the point of passing”. So in this case, the first baseman gets credit for a putout… while the centerfielder was chasing down a ball in the outfield.
By the way, here is a recent example where Nelson Cruz got called out for passing the runner. Both he and the runner on 1st thought the ball had been caught, so the runner stayed at first, and Cruz went toward 1st before heading towards the dugout and at that point he crossed the runner and was ruled out.
Seemed to be as much confusion as in the game I officiated, so I don’t feel too bad.