Error, Hit or Fielder’s Choice?

In Tuesday’s game between Oakland and Detroit, with runners on the corners, Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler fielded a ground ball and threw a strike to home plate…. while the runner on third didn’t stray off the base.   Here’s the video of the play:

(the look on Kinsler’s face says it all)

What should the A’s batter Eric Sogard be credited with?

The fielder did make a mistake (i.e., a mental error), can he get charged with an error on this?  No, the comment in rule 10.12 (1) clearly says “The official scorer shall not score mental mistakes or misjudgments as errors…” If that’s not unambigous enough, it goes on to clarify “The official scorer shall not charge an error to a fielder who incorrectly throws to the wrong base on a play.” That is exactly what this was, so charging an error on the play is ruled out.

Should Sogard get credit for a hit, even though it was just a routine infield grounder? No, rule 10.05 (a) says “The official scorer shall credit a batter with a base hit when:” and it goes on to list six conditions. I’m not going to list them all here, but none of them applied. (If you don’t believe me, you can read them yourself here. Just scroll down 10.05).

So, is this a fielder’s choice even though no runner was put out, and in fact no play was made on a runner? YES. Rule 10.05 (b) (4) says “The official scorer shall not credit a base hit when…..fielder fails in an attempt to put out a preceding runner and, in the scorer’s judgment, the batter-runner could have been put out at first base”.

Even though no play was made on a runner, it was still an “attempt”, and the batter would have easily been put out, so it meets the definition.

Anyhow, this loaded up the bases for the A’s. Two batters later Ben Zobrist hit a grand slam which was the difference in the 5-3 Oakland victory.  Since no error was charged, all runs were earned.  Another reason why pitcher ERAs and fielding percentage are fairly meaningless ways to judge the performance of a baseball player.

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About Ruben Lipszyc

I write about baseball. I'm a member of the Boston Chapter of the Baseball Blogger's Alliance, and I write about my Red Sox and keep Albertans up to date on local baseball happenings at RubensBaseball.blogspot.com. I occasionally also write articles for the Canadian Baseball Network at www.CanadianBaseballNetwork.com.

Posted on June 4, 2015, in MLB Situation and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. runner on first, no outs. batter hits ground ball to short, who forces the runner out at second. Throw to 1st is too late to complete double-play. Isn’t this considered a force out, thereby counting as an official at bat for the batter? Many announcers are calling it a “Fielder’s Choice”, which would not count as an ‘at-bat’ for the hitter. Which is correct?

    • It is a force out, thereby counting as an official at bat for the batter as you say, but it is also a Fielder’s Choice. A Fielder’s Choice DOES count as an at-bat for the hitter. Not sure where you got the idea that FC does not count as an at bat. I hope I haven’t accidentally implied that somewhere.

  2. Patrick Scharf

    Situation is one out with runners at 2nd & 3rd. Batted ball is hit to short, but is bobbled. Base runner at 2nd gets tagged out in a rundown, allowing batter runner to reach 2nd base. Is the shortstop charged with an error for not getting the out at first, since the batter runner reached second during the rundown, or is it a fielders choice since they got the out and the batter advanced in the rundown?

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