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Saturday, October 06, 2012

MLB Network: Harold on the infield fly rule

Harold Reynolds talks [sic] the disputed infield fly call from the NL Wild Card game and shows it is common in baseball games.

bobm Posted: October 06, 2012 at 08:36 PM | 117 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves, cardinals, infield fly, postseason

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   101. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: October 08, 2012 at 04:52 PM (#4259400)
There may be others, so the "defense must make a clean play in order to record an out" rule has a lot of exceptions.


Baserunner interference
Fan interference
Batter interference
Runner hit with batted ball
Foul bunt with two strikes

Three of those are designed to eliminate situations where the defense was prevented by nefarious means of completing the play. The two strike bunt I think makes all kinds of sense leaving the runner being hit with a batted ball as the exception. That probably exists simply to keep umpires from having to determine intent though they are required to determine intent in other situations (e.g. second play by a fielder - Reggie in the '78 WS).

Are there others? Genuinely asking, not being snarky. I can't think of any off hand.
   102. cardsfanboy Posted: October 08, 2012 at 04:55 PM (#4259406)
Just thought of another play where the defense can record an out without making a play: foul bunt with 2 strikes. There may be others, so the "defense must make a clean play in order to record an out" rule has a lot of exceptions. All of them justifiable IMO, but maybe enough that the DTS rule is on shakier ground than I first thought.


Many of those rules are league specific(what I mean is major league and minor league specific but isn't necessary for the sport at all levels)

I don't consider them to be fundamental rules to the game, just rules to force the game to conform to fairness when dealing with the best talent in the world.
   103. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: October 08, 2012 at 04:58 PM (#4259408)
leaving the runner being hit with a batted ball as the exception. That probably exists simply to keep umpires from having to determine intent though they are required to determine intent in other situations (e.g. second play by a fielder - Reggie in the '78 WS).


Well, it's just another form of runner interference. Interference doesn't require intent. It simply requires you to be (unlawfully) in the way of the fielder. Was Simmons intentionally out of the basepath in the WC game? Doesn't matter. he's still out.

And another type of putout without making a play: runner runs out the basepath to avoid a tag.
   104. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: October 08, 2012 at 05:01 PM (#4259412)
Many of those rules are league specific(what I mean is major league and minor league specific but isn't necessary for the sport at all levels)


Well, I coach LL, and all of them except DTS are used at levels as low as 9-10 year olds. The level I coached this year, 11-12 year olds, used the DTS as well.
   105. BDC Posted: October 08, 2012 at 07:27 PM (#4259657)
Batter to first on a dropped third strike is an ancient rule, and one that helped put catcher defense at a premium in 19th-century baseball. Why the batter can go suddenly from abject failure to clean success is a mystery at the heart of baseball, like transubstantiation or something. The more logical idea would be for a dropped third strike to be a called ball, but logic is not part of it.

As to the frequency of IF flies, I watch for the play intently, and I do think it's less common than the dropped third strike. Having the right base/out state happens a couple of times a game, and the pop fly in those situations is even rarer. Most dropped third strikes result in a simple throw to first or a quick tag to be sure. But I could be asleep or reading a book during IF flies. I see them once in a while, but not very much.

It's important in one sense that the dropped-third-strike with first occupied, less than two out is written like the IF rule. In neither case does a DP have to be assured, so the umpire doesn't have to make a judgment call about whether the batter should be out or not. If 1B was occupied with less than two outs, the strike three can scoot way past the catcher's reach and ricochet from dugout to dugout (and the runner go from base to base), but the batter is totally out from the get-go.
   106. BDC Posted: October 08, 2012 at 07:28 PM (#4259658)
And incidentally, I once counted 43 ways to be out in baseball (including "making a mockery of the game"), and even wrote a substantial essay about it. It was commissioned by a magazine! They hated it and wouldn't print it. Everybody who read it hated it. Never try such a thing.
   107. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: October 08, 2012 at 07:31 PM (#4259662)
I hope you got a kill fee at least. You should post the essay here, come to think of it.
   108. BDC Posted: October 08, 2012 at 07:38 PM (#4259668)
Thanks, Ballgame! Though if I post it here everyone will immediately pick out how very wrong it all is. I found it on my cloud server, though, so here's a teaser sentence:

The eleven broad categories of baseball outs, with their populations, are Tags (2), Forces (1), Catches (1), Strikeouts (4), Interference (12), Touching a Live Ball (4), Batter’s Comportment Errors (4), Basepath Indiscretions (10), Coach’s Monkeyshines (2), Conspiracy (1), and the Infield Fly (2).
   109. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: October 08, 2012 at 07:45 PM (#4259674)
If you look at my grade school report cards, you'll see evidence of a number of comportment errors. No indiscretions, infield flies, or live ball touches, though.
   110. BDC Posted: October 08, 2012 at 07:51 PM (#4259693)
Incidentally, I misquoted the rule in #106. It's "travesty," not mockery. The specific way to be called out is if you are standing legally on third base and suddenly decide to run back to second, or second and run back to third. Evidently there would be runners back in the day who would be standing on second and break for first, the better to startle the pitcher and draw a bad throw, whereupon they could reverse course and run for third. No longer allowed.
   111. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 08, 2012 at 07:56 PM (#4259707)
Evidently there would be runners back in the day who would be standing on second and break for first, the better to startle the pitcher and draw a bad throw, whereupon they could reverse course and run for third.

I think the story goes that there were runners on the corners in a deadball game (I want to say it was the Tigers playing and Germany Schaefer on first). Schaefer wanted to draw a throw from the catcher to let the runner on third score, so he stole second; the catcher didn't throw. Undeterred, on the next play, he ran back to first; of course, the catcher was rather too surprised to throw. As I recall the story, he went for second again on the next pitch, and the catcher finally threw, allowing the run to score.
   112. SoSH U at work Posted: October 08, 2012 at 07:58 PM (#4259713)
It's important in one sense that the dropped-third-strike with first occupied, less than two out is written like the IF rule. In neither case does a DP have to be assured, so the umpire doesn't have to make a judgment call about whether the batter should be out or not. If 1B was occupied with less than two outs, the strike three can scoot way past the catcher's reach and ricochet from dugout to dugout (and the runner go from base to base), but the batter is totally out from the get-go.


Like the IF fly rule, it's truly designed to protect the offense, and it's easy to see why it's needed if you look at it from a bases-loaded standpoint. Baseball doesn't really allow for the batter to take first optionally. If he can go, he must, and all the other runners as well. If you've got bases loaded and one out, a strikeout in the dirt could lead to a DP without the catcher having to move. Touch the ball on home plate for the force there, then touch the batter in the box.

Again, this is only true in the absence of the pass the runner option. As long as that rule exists, then the offense will likely take it every possible time, and all you've done by eliminating the rule is taken an elegant solution and replaced it with an awkward one.


On routine plays in the middle of the infield, sure. But on a play like Thursday's, I'm betting the Braves see how the play is unfolding before making the pass-the-runner commitment.

Moreoever, if someone pouts and fails to run after popping up with the bases loaded, the shrewd defender may opt to let it fall and get the quick two outs. Or, in a bases loaded, no-out situation, would both sides trade two outs for one run? Like I said, the end result on most of these plays is the same as we have now. But it adds options (while also requiring the offense to run and the defense to record an out).



   113. Joe Kehoskie Posted: October 08, 2012 at 10:51 PM (#4260029)
I'm betting the Braves see how the play is unfolding before making the pass-the-runner commitment.

I hate this intentionally-pass-the-runner thing, and I'm guessing it would occur about two times before it was outlawed.
   114. SoSH U at work Posted: October 08, 2012 at 11:06 PM (#4260050)

I hate this intentionally-pass-the-runner thing, and I'm guessing it would occur about two times before it was outlawed.


I'm guessing it would almost never happen. As long as the option is there for the offense, there's no reason for the defense to deliberately let the ball drop. The defense would simply catch the ball, as it does now. The only time the defense would be encouraged to let the ball drop is if the batter failed to run the play out (in which case, he wouldn't be able to pass the runner intentionally). See, it all balances out.
   115. bobm Posted: October 08, 2012 at 11:35 PM (#4260097)
[105]
As to the frequency of IF flies, I watch for the play intently, and I do think it's less common than the dropped third strike. Having the right base/out state happens a couple of times a game, and the pop fly in those situations is even rarer. Most dropped third strikes result in a simple throw to first or a quick tag to be sure. But I could be asleep or reading a book during IF flies. I see them once in a while, but not very much.


I tried to estimate the IF fly frequency using 2012 data from BB-REF.

2012 MLB PA: 184,179

From BB-REF PI batting event finder, for 2012 MLB:

8,849 Plate Appearances in 2012, less than 2 outs and With runners on 12- or With runners on 123 (Note: that is about a couple of times a game.)
[4.8% of all PA in 2012]

Of these 8,849: 297 "infield flies" = 276 PA Fair Pop Flies caught by an infielder in 2012 + 21 Fair Flyballs near infield but caught by outfielder (e.g., noted as "Deep 3B")
[3.4% of all eligible PA in 2012]
[0.2% of all PA in 2012]
   116. Joe Kehoskie Posted: October 08, 2012 at 11:35 PM (#4260098)
I'm guessing it would almost never happen. As long as the option is there for the offense, there's no reason for the defense to deliberately let the ball drop. The defense would simply catch the ball, as it does now. The only time the defense would be encouraged to let the ball drop is if the batter failed to run the play out (in which case, he wouldn't be able to pass the runner intentionally). See, it all balances out.

Without trying to ascertain the various dates of the revisions to the official playing rules, I'm guessing the rule about passing a runner is older than the infield fly rule. Either way, I can't imagine that baseball's overlords like the idea of runners intentionally causing havoc on the basepaths. Your suggestion would also cause a needless timing play away from the baseball — e.g., after a dropped infield fly, did the batter-runner pass the runner at first before or after a quick throw to third forced the runner on second? — that would make things tougher rather than easier for both the umpires and the runners.
   117. bobm Posted: October 09, 2012 at 12:24 AM (#4260154)
[115] A stab at estimating the dropped third strike frequency, using B-R PI batting event finder:

2012 batter K: 36,426 [19.8% of all PA]
2012 batter K, 1B occupied, with 0 or 1 out: 5,643
[15.5% of K]
[3.1% of PA]

2012 batter K, no one on 1B or 2 outs: 30,783
[84.5% of K]
[16.7% of PA]

The third strike drop rate can only be calculated for the latter scenario, as the proportion of strikeouts where there is a 2-3 putout at 1B or a wild pitch and the batter reaches 1B.

927 assists on dropped third strikes and the ball thrown to 1B (From the 2012 MLB Catcher Fielding page)
1,542 wild pitches total -> Obviously not all WP result in a batter reaching 1B on a dropped third strike.

If 20% of WP were dropped third strikes, then the dropped third strike rate, excluding tags by catcher (which would raise the dropped third strike rate and which I do not see on B-R) would be:

(927+20%*1,542)/30,783 = 4.0% of eligible Ks and 0.7% of all PA in 2012.

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