Sacrifices

(Bob DeChiara, US PRESSWIRE)

There are 2 types of sacrifice ‘hits’. Sacrifice bunts (sac) and sacrifice flys (SF). These are covered in Scoring Rule 10.08.

Sacrifice Fly

The sacrifice fly rule is fairly straightforward.  A batter should get credit for a SF, when he hits a fly ball that is caught, but is deep enough for a runner to tag up and score.  If an outfielder drops an easily catchable ball and a run scores, the batter should also get credit for a SF (and the fielder gets an E), unless there are 2 outs.  In other words, credit a sac fly if it would have been one without the error.  The batter also gets an RBI on a sac fly.

Sacrifice Bunt

In contrast, the sacrifice bunt rule requires the official scorer to have some mind-reading abilities.  The basic premise for scoring a sac is that the batter bunted and advanced a runner (or more), while getting himself thrown out at first base.  However, if in the scorer’s judgement the batter was trying to bunt for a hit, then it should be charged as an at bat instead of a sac.  The inning, score and # of outs can be used to help determine a batter’s intentions.  For example, if the winning run is on 2nd base in the bottom of the 9th inning with nobody out, a bunt would be a classic example of a sacrifice bunt.  If, however, the team is losing by 3 runs, a “successful” sacrifice bunt should likely be scored just as a ground out.

A sacrifice bunt can also be scored, if the runners advanced while the defense tried to put them out instead of batter.  Note that if the defense would not have been able to put out the batter, than you can score it as a base hit instead of a sacrifice (e.g. runner on 2nd, perfect bunt towards 3rd with no chance of getting the batter, and defense tries unsuccessfully to get runner going to 3rd – score it as a single).

Additionally, if any runner is put out trying to advance a base on a bunt, then no sacrifice is scored. It just becomes a routine fielder’s choice.

Oh, and David Ortiz… please stick to hitting walk-off bombs, please.

  1. Doug Woodman

    Can a sacrifice be scored without recording an out

  2. Yes. You can credit for a sacrifice fly even if an outfielder drops a ball and is charged with an error. Can also get a sac bunt if a fielder attempts to unsuccessfully put out a runner but would have had an easy out at first.

    • The batter bunts to the first baseman with a runner on third base with 1 out. The runner on third breaks towards home and the first baseman looks at the runner but does not throw the ball in an attempt to get the runner from 3rd out. The runner returns to 3rd base and does not score. The first baseman throws to the 2nd baseman covering 1st base. The batter beats the throw to first. No out is recorded. The only throw was to 1st base. How do you score the at bat? Hit, Sac bunt or fielders choice ?

      • It is scored as a hit. It can only be a fielder’s choice if the fielder actually threw to try and get the lead runner. Just looking isn’t enough.

      • I read your repy that “It is scored as a hit.” In an actual college game, this play was scored as a Sacrifice. Was this official scoring incorrect ? or could there be another reason the scorer recorded a Sacrifice ? In other words, is this a hit ? or a sacrifice bunt? I just want to make sure this play should not have been scored a Sacrifice, instead it should have been scored a Hit.

      • There is absolutely no way this can ever be recorded as a sacrifice. If no runner advanced, regardless of what else happens, there is no sacrifice.

  3. In a sacrifice bunt error the pitcher trow to secound base and tru the ball awaywill that be a error for the batter that try to do the sacrifice bunt

    • It depends. If you think the runner would have been safe at second base even without throwing the ball away, then you still give the batter a sacrifice bunt. But if you think the runner would be out, then the batter gets a fielder’s choice, and the pitcher is charged with an error.

  4. Michael Skelton

    Can a ground ball that advances the runner be considered a sacrafice? thus not counting the at bat?

    • No. It has to be a bunt for it to be considered a sacrifice. I ranted a bit about this here, when I say that with a runner on 2nd and nobody out the batter should try to hit the ball towards the right side of the infield to advance the runner. But when they do — and it’s basically the exact same strategy as a sacrifice bunt — it counts as an at bat and hurts their batting average.

  5. Josh Nichols

    Thank you so much for this entry, it really helps me get to know the rules of the game better.

  6. Runner on 1st, batter doesnt show bunt until after pitch motion. … basically sneaky bunt. Is that considered a SAC or bunt for hit even if batter is out but runner advanced to 2nd.

    • The fact that he didn’t show bunt until after doesn’t really affect it. He might think he has a better chance of a sac bunt by having the infield stay back as long as possible. As I mention above, proper scoring of a SAC vs. ground out requires mind reading abilities. The rule says “In determining whether the batter had been sacrificing his own chance of reaching first base for the purpose of advancing a runner, the official scorer shall give the batter the benefit of the doubt. The official scorer shall consider the totality of the circumstances of the at-bat, including the inning, the number of outs and the score”. So, it’s more based on the game situation. If advancing the runner made sense (e.g., tie game in a late inning), score it a sac, but if not (down by multiple runs and obvious need to get on base situation), score it as a ground out.

  7. Runner on first steals and batter bunts. Batter retired at first , runner thrown out trying to advance to third, still credit batter with a sacrifice?

  8. One more sac bunt question. Less than 2 outs and runners on 2nd and 3rd. Hitter bunts (for sac, not for a hit). Runners advance (no play made on them) but a bad throw to first results in batter being safe on a throwing error. Is this still a sac bunt?

    • This is still a sacrifice bunt (and an error on the fielder throwing the ball). To determine how to score a play, always look at what would have happened without an error. In this case, the batter would have been thrown out at 1st on a successful sacrifice, so credit him with a sacrifice bunt and an RBI.

  9. Situation – base runner on first is stealing second (and would have been safe on a straight steal) and the batter bunts the ball as a sacrifice bunt, but gets thrown out at first. Sac bunt or not?

    • The runner stealing 2nd isn’t relevant. If it was a sacrifice bunt situation, give the batter credit for the sac. But if you think he was bunting for a base hit (example, if team was down several runs in the last inning), then just score it as a groundout.

  10. here’s a question for you: team winning by a large margin, guy on 3B, one out. Clearly not a sacrifice situation. Kid swings away and flies to CF, runner tags and scores. I know that by all accounts it should be scored a SAC fly, but clearly it was not his intention to “sacrifice” himself to advance the baserunner.

    Your thoughts?

    • The scoring rules don’t care about a batter’s intention when it comes to a sacrifice fly. No choice but to credit the batter with the SF. This is different than a bunt where intention does matter and is taken into account.

  11. Jeremy watland

    There’s a runner on second with 0 outs. The batter hits a fly ball to right field that is caught. The runner tags up and now there’s a runner on third with one out. Is it a sacrifice fly? Or just a fly out?

  12. Thomas F Brondolo

    How about this one, runner on first no outs. Clearly a sac bunt situation in a 1 run game . Bunt goes down and the pitcher and first baseman miss-handle the ball, everyone one safe, does it count as an “at bat”

    • Depends. When they mishandled the ball, was it an error? If there was no error, give him a base hit (and obviously an at bat). If an error was charged, then give the batter a sac bunt and no at bat. In other words, apply the scoring that would have occurred without the error.

  13. Bases loaded with 1 out in a tie game in extra innings. Batter bunts to third and team watches ball hoping it goes foul and then try play at home but too late. Everybody is safe. Batter would have legged it out for a single if they would have thrown to first. Sac or Hit?

  1. Pingback: Why hits and batting average are misleading « Baseball Scoring Rules

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