Here is something you don’t see every day. Eric Young Jr “bunts” the ball into short right field for a base hit. I like how he stands on first and has the look of “I meant to do that”.
Regardless, this play does have one interesting rules component to it. It is one of the things that defensive coaches say most to me when I am doing kiddie ball.
Watch where his foot it at when he contacts the ball. It is a) pretty close to touching the plate and b) pretty close to being out of the box. So, should he have been out? Nope – unless you are calling high school ball.
Rule 6.06(a) covers this.
6.06 A batter is out for illegal action when—
(a) He hits a ball with one or both feet on the ground entirely outside the batter’s box. Rule 6.06(a) Comment: If a batter hits a ball fair or foul while out of the batter’s box, he shall be called out. Umpires should pay particular attention to the position of the batter’s feet if he attempts to hit the ball while he is being intentionally passed. A batter cannot jump or step out of the batter’s box and hit the ball.
Where do most coaches get caught up – notice how the rule makes no mention of home plate. Is it possible for a batter to have his toes on the plate and his heel in the batter’s box? Sure – the distance between the plate and the batter’s box is only six inches.
The keys are that the foot has to be entirely out and entirely on the ground when contacts occurs. Foot in air? Batter is fine. Heel on the line and rest of foot out? Batter is fine as lines are part of the box.
As the comment says, the intent of this rule is to prevent people from stepping out and hitting intentional balls. This is probably the only time this will be get called at the major league level.
Not because the umpires treat this rule like NBA refs treat traveling, but because the home plate guy should be focusing on the pitch. If he is looking where a foot is at, he is not doing his primary job. Unless egregious, it is not worth grabbing an out on this one.
I bet this umpire wishes he would not have grabbed that out.
As to my other note about high school baseball, under that code a player is out if he is stepping on the plate or completely out of the box when contacting the ball. On this play, there might have been an out (I cannot see if his toe is on the plate).
Page 38 of RuleGraphics covers this including a great illustration on what is required to get an out.