One of Baseball’s Wacky Rules

I saw the Mets play the Padres on Friday, and something strange happened. I’d always thought a run that scored on an inning-ending play only counted if the third out had been made on a tag. A force out means no run, right? Wrong.

Get this: in the first inning, Dillon Gee walked the first batter, Will Venable, and got the next one out on a pop-up before giving up a single to Yonder Alonso that moved Venable to third. Then, with runners on the corners and one out, Jesus Guzman hit a shot that looked to be an easy double off the wall, that is, assuming it didn’t clear the fence. Mike Baxter put an end to all that by making the incredible catch you see above before doubling Alonso up at first. Here’s the video.

Venable had crossed the plate before they made the third out, but so what? It was on a force, the run didn’t count, or so I, along with most everyone in the stadium, thought. That “everyone” includes the Mets’ first baseman, Ike Davis, who told the AP, “I gave a first pump because I thought the run wouldn’t count.”

But alas, Ike and I have something in common: we were wrong. Well, that and the fact that we’re both hitting under .200 this year. Then again, I haven’t had 156 at bats (hint: I haven’t had any). Anyway, we both thought the run would be nullified by the double play. It was not, because as is the case with so many of baseball’s finer points, the devil is in the details.

Remember when I told you it was wrong to think a force out means no run? Well, I was lying. See, it’s not that this play was an exception to the rule, that the run counted despite being a force out. Rather, it’s that the second out on a tag up double play like this one isn’t actually a force out. Why, you ask? Well, that requires some definitions. To the rule book, let’s go!

Alright Robin, now that we’ve got our atomic batteries to power and our turbines to speed, I’ll tell you. Rule 2.00 of the Official Baseball Rules states that a force play is one in which “a runner legally loses his right to occupy a base by reason of the batter becoming a runner.” Likewise, Rule 7.08 tell us that “if a following runner is put out on a force play, the force is removed and the runner must be tagged to be put out,” and Rule 7.10(a) states “Any runner shall be called out, on appeal, when after a fly ball is caught, he fails to retouch his original base before he or his original base is tagged.”

So what happened on Friday is this: the force on Alonso was removed when Baxter made that catch, and the third out, which came from the ball getting to first before he could tag up, was technically a tag out. That’s despite it looking so much like a force play.

Funny, isn’t it? Because the definition of a force out is so specific, that of a tag out is the opposite. A tag out doesn’t actually require a runner being tagged with the ball, a base can be “tagged” as well. So basically, a tag out is anything that isn’t a force out. But hey, it’s these little complexities that make baseball so great. It’s one thing for me or Ike Davis to be surprised, we’ve only got 40 years of baseball-watching between us, max. But it’s entirely another that my grandfather, who was there as well, can learn something new about the game he loves after seeing it played for over 75 years. In baseball, there actually is something new under the sun, and that’s what makes it such a beautiful game.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

2011 Fantasy Rankings: First Basemen

All 2011 Fantasy Articles | 2011 Position Rankings

Here is how deep the first base pool has become: the guy who finished fourth statistically among first basemen, and who hit more home runs than every first baseman not named Albert Pujols, is ranked 12th in CBS’s projections for 2011 (14th if you count two 1B-eligible catchers). Twelve first basemen are projected to knock in over 100 runs (nine accomplished this feat last year), and 11 are projected to hit over 30 home runs (nine accomplished this last year as well). Which means, in theory, you could be the ninth person in your league, or even the last, to draft a first basemen, and you’ll still be good for a 30-100 stat line. Not too shabby.

Colorado Rockies catcher Miguel Olivo is struck in the head with a bat by St. Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols in the first inning in St. Louis on October 1, 2010. Olivo left the game and went to a local hospital to be checked. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Big Dog goes ‘Arf’

And to think, that doesn’t include guys who hit 25 home runs or more (add another six). Underneath that group are another dozen hitters capable of blasting 25 dingers, provided you’re flexible in the batting average and strikeout department. First base is deep, kids, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your due diligence on the position. First, let’s discuss the wounded birds looking to reclaim their 2009 glory.

Kendry Morales, Angels
Yes! I just hit a Grand Slam and won the game for my tea-OW! What the hell just popped in my foot? Even stranger, this bitten-by-home-plate thing happened to two different guys last year. Morales was a beast in 2009, hitting 34 dingers and knocking in 108 runs (He even stole three bases, though his success rate was a dismal 30%), and he’s reasonably well protected with Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter and the ageless Bobby Abreu hitting around him. A safe estimate would be a 5% drop from his 2009 numbers, but he certainly has the potential to do better than that.

Justin Morneau, Twins
We love what a pure hitter Morneau is, but this concussion business is spooky. Football players come back from one after a week or two, while Morneau has been sidelined since July, which makes us wonder: what exactly was he seeing, and are those images still dancing around the periphery? The Twins are smart to be cautious with one of their most prized hitters, but we’re now eight months removed from the injury, and the Twins are still treating him like the boy in the plastic bubble. That’s troubling to put it lightly. His draft value obviously takes a hit – a third rounder last year, he’s a projected late sixth rounder this year – but that also makes him one hell of a steal, if he’s healthy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Related Posts