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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Runners passing on bases

umpsSo 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.

TWO games end with runner hit by batted ball! How do you score that???

On Saturday there were a couple of rare instances of a runner being hit by a batted ball. More coincidentally, they both happened with two outs in the 9th inning, ending the game, as the batting teams were mounting comebacks. What are the odds of that? I don’t know, this isn’t a stats blog (maybe I’ll create one someday?), but runners hit by batted balls is infrequent enough, happening twice in one day is exponentally rarer, and having it possibly cost your team a game in the 9th….

Anyhow here are the detais of the first occurrence. The Giants were leading the Angels 5-2 heading into the 9th. Anaheim LA  rallied to make it 5-3 and had runners on 1st and 2nd when David Freese singled to make it 5-4 with runners on the corners.  Since Freese was the potential winning run, he was pinchran for by rookie utility infielder Taylor Featherston as Matt Joyce came to the plate. And then this happened:

Wow! What a way to kill a rally. The pinch runner gets hit with the batted ball. By rule he is out, and the batter is awarded first base, and no other runners can advance unless forced. So how do we score that? Well, it’s a hit for Matt Joyce, but who gets the putout?

According to rule 10.09 (c) (2) “The official scorer shall credit automatic putouts….when a runner is called out for being touched by a fair ball …credit the putout to the fielder nearest the ball.”

So in this case, the official scorer credited second baseman Joe Panik with the putout.

Meanwhile the other LA team was the beneficiary of a simiar play.  They had come back in the 7th and 8th innings to take a 6-4 lead over the Diamondbacks. In the 9th Arizona had a runner on first which brought the tying run to the plate. And it was David Peralta who could easily tie the game with a swing of the bat. Tension was mouning at Chavez Ravine. Peralta hit the ball solidly up the middle and…

This one wasn’t quite as obvious as the Angels runner, but the ball does deflect slightly off of Jordan Pacheco and you can see 2nd base umpire Jeff Kellogg clearly point to the runner and indicate he is out for interference, ending the game.  And as in the Giants game, the second baseman (Howie Kendrick) also got credit for the putout.

That’s two putouts for second basemen who didn’t touch the ball to save a game for their teams, on the same day!

A comedy of errors? Or some well placed hits? You pick.

The season just started, and my last post was immediately after Game 7 of the World Series so it’s time for more updates.

The Boston Red Sox played their home opener yesterday against the Washington Nationals.  The boxscore will show that the Sox won 9-4 while getting 13 hits, and Washington made one fielding error.  Nats starter Jordan Zimmerman got charged with eight runs, seven of those earned in just 2 1/3 innings. But he didn’t pitch as poorly as the numbers show. I saw at least three additional uncounted errors, which should have made many of those runs unearned.

Take a look for yourselves:

Here’s a routine fly ball which falls untouched:

Shouldn’t the centerfielder have caught that with ordinary effort? Why is it not an error? Are some official scorers still holding on the antiquainted belief that there’s no error if nobody touches a ball?

Ok, here’s another one from the same inning:

This one looks even more routine. But some miscommunication led to both fielders looking at each other while it falls in untouched. Now here’s a scorer’s dilemna? Who do you give an error to if either could have caught the ball? Maybe that’s why they are reluctant to give an error on these types of plays? Anyhow, easy answer. The centerfielder gets the E. There is a hierarchy in baseball whenever two or more players both go for a ball. CF has priority over the corners, therefore it is his ball, and therefore it should have been his E.

Still in the same inning, a ground ball gets hit towards the shortstop:

This one may have been a little tougher because his teammate screened him a bit by going for the ball, but in my opinion, an MLB infielder should make this play.

Washington’s starter was removed after that play. And his record showed he had an awful outing. But with some decent defense behind him he should have only given up three runs in total.

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