Baseball scoring is an interesting thing.
For those who have never kept a scorebook for baseball or softball, you should know that it can be extremely easy, or incredibly hard and confusing. Basically, it depends on the game.
The simple things are hits and outs or walks and things like that.
But when you start getting into wild pitches, passed balls, fielder’s choices, and all that – it can become quite the game of what did somebody see.
When you are at a professional game – either at the major league or minor league level – there are people paid to keep score. They are people who know the rules – or know where to find them quickly. I keep my own book at games, and though I might disagree with a ruling (home teams often get the benefit of friendly scoring when it comes to errors and hits), I go with the official scorer.
However, there are times when I am baffled and need to look up why something was scored as it was – such as what happened in a AA minor league game between the Binghamton Mets and Harrisburg Senators.
Let me give you the situation, and then we’ll work on the result and the scoring.
Harrisburg was batting in the top of the second. The first batter walked, and the second struck out, so there’s a man on first with one out.
Up steps catcher Pedro Severino, who smacked a 2-2 pitch to the right side. The runner – Matt Skole – was hit by the ball. That creates a dead ball as Skole is out and Severino reaches first.
Here are the two scorekeeping issues in this spot – who gets the putout and what is Severino credited with. My feeling was that the nearest fielder gets credit for the putout, and the runner reaches on a fielder’s choice.
The Binghamton Mets scorer, however, credited Severino with a hit. That was news to me. There were three of us in the section keeping a book and we were curious. One person looked it up and said, indeed, that Severino should get a hit. I had never heard this, though. The Mets also credited second baseman Jairo Perez, which was my initial thought.
So, how’s it ruled? I’m glad you asked. After some extensive research, here’s what we have – by breaking it down.
First, let’s look at the situation.
According to rule 5.09 (f) of the Major League Baseball rules, here’s the start:
The ball becomes dead and runners advance one base, or return to their bases, without liability to be put out when – (f) a fair ball touches a runner or an umpire on fair territory before it touches an infielder including the pitcher, or touches an umpire before it has passed an infielder other than the pitcher.
Then let’s head to rule 7.08 (f), which notes the following:
Any runner is out when – (f) he is touched by a fair ball in fair territory before the ball has touched or passed an infielder. The ball is dead and no runner may score, nor runners advance, except runners forced to advance. EXCEPTION: If a runner is touching is base when touched by an infield fly, he is not out, although the batter is out.
There are the rules about the situation. There are comments on each rule that talk about things like if it passed an infielder first, or touches an infielder etc., but this situation was pretty cut-and-dry.
So, given the situation, we know the runner is out (correct) and the batter receives first base (correct).
Well, what about scoring it?
Let’s first cover the batter. According to the scorekeeper part of the rule book and rule 10.05, which states:
(a) The official scorer shall credit a batter with a base hit when: (5) a fair ball that has not been touched by a fielder touches a runner or an umpire, unless a runner is called out for having been touched by an infield fly, in which case the official scorer shall not score a hit.
Then let’s zoom ahead to rule 10.09, which covers putouts and says:
(C)The official scorer shall credit automatic putouts as follows (and shall credit no assists on these plays except as specified): (2) When a runner is called out for being touched by a fair ball (including an infield fly), the official scorer shall credit the putout to the fielder nearest the ball.
So there you have it – the breakdown as delivered by baseball’s rules. The Binghamton Mets scorer was dead-on in how he or she ruled it. The runner is out, the closest fielder gets credit for the putout and the batter gets a hit. Interesting stuff.
And the best part of that situation is it gave those of us who enjoy keeping score a little something to discuss on a perfect day for baseball.
I’m going to start peeking at situations I may come across during the summer with baseball and do a few more of these if situations arise. Have you had any interesting scoring situations come up in games you’ve watched? If so, let me know below!
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