A common difficulty among scorers is determining if an error should be charged on a play or not. Hopefully this article will help you make sense of the error rule which is covered in 10.12 in the official scoring rules. The basic rule is that an error is charged if a batter’s at bat is prolonged, if he gets on base instead of being out, or if a runner (or the batter himself) advances extra bases due to a physical mistake made by a fielder. A key phrase in determining whether a play is an error or not is if the fielder could have “handled the ball with ordinary effort”, and does not then it is an error. Some key points: A fielder can get an error even if he doesn’t touch the ball
The comment after Rule 10.12(a)(1) says “…It is not necessary that the fielder touch the ball to be charged with an error. … For example, the official scorer shall charge an infielder with an error when a ground ball passes to either side of such infielder if, in the official scorer’s judgement, a fielder at that position making ordinary effort would have fielded such ground ball and retired a runner.”
(Funny, I rarely see official scorers give Derek Jeter errors on these type of plays.)
If a fielder gets to the ball, but can’t make a play he should not necessarily get an error
For example, if an outfielder dives for a ball and it goes off his glove, it was not a play where he could have “handled the ball with ordinary effort”, therefore no error should be charged.
If a fielder drops a routine foul fly ball, and the batter is subsequently retired, an error is charged even though the outcome is the same
An error is charged if a batter’s at bat is prolonged, regardless of what happens afterwards (*)
No error is charged on a wild throw, if no runners advance extra bases
For example, on an infield hit where an infielder throws the ball too late to 1st base, and throws wild, there is no error, unless the batter ends up on 2nd base because of the wild throw. This also applies to stolen bases – a catcher’s throw to the outfield is not scored an error, unless the runner advances another base past the stolen base.
Errors are charged to whoever threw the ball, if it hits something and takes a bad bounce, regardless of how unfair that may be.
For example, if a throw hits a sliding runner and bounces wild allowing him or another runner to advance another base, or if a ball hits a base or the pitcher’s rubber.
Errors are charged to fielders who cause obstruction or interference resulting in award of bases to runners No errors are charged when attempting a double play, as long as one runner is put out.
For example, a shortstop takes a ground ball, steps on 2nd to get the runner coming from 1st and throws wildly to 1st base. Even if a good throw would have had the batter out, no error is charged (unless the wild throw allows the batter to advance to 2nd base).
No errors are charged for wild pitches or passed balls.
(*) the only exception is if an outfielder intentionally does not catch a foul fly to prevent a runner from tagging up at 3rd base and scoring