Strange Review Play

Here is a play that almost had a double review (MLB does not have it embeddable yet).

The batter bunts the ball and runs to first. He clearly beats the play, but the umpire calls him  out. It happens and this is why there is replay.

But upon further review it looked like the ball hit the batter near home plate. So, as the umpires are reviewing out/safe at first, Cubs manager Joe Maddon is wanting to get the front end of the play reviewed.

First things first, what would happen if the ball would have hit the batter. The way I read the rule, I think there is evidence to call him out.

The pertinent rules are 6.05(g) and 6.03.

6.05 A batter is out when—

(g) His fair ball touches him before touching a fielder. If the batter is in a legal position in the batter’s box, see Rule 6.03, and, in the umpire’s judgment, there was no intention to interfere with the course of the ball, a batted ball that strikes the batter or his bat shall be ruled a foul ball;

6.03 The batter’s legal position shall be with both feet within the batter’s box.

APPROVED RULING: The lines defining the box are within the batter’s box.

I will admit, this rule has confused me at times. I believe it is also different in both high school and college. As I read this, I see a fair ball touching a batter before touching a fielder. The first condition of 6.05(g) is met. The rule goes on to say if the batter is in a legal position in the box, the contact causes a foul ball.

6.03 defines a legal position in the box as both in the box. In this play, I think the batter has a foot in the air and out of the box. I see justification for calling an out.

The replay on the out/safe was overturned (as it should have been). Now, what about the batter’s box business. Turns out this is not reviewable. Here are the MLB replay rules.

From my reading it looks like only HRs, boundary calls, fair/foul that land past the corner umpires, force/tag, catch in outfield, certain base running plays, hit by pitch and home plate collisions are reviewable. Joe Maddon could not challenge the touch as being foul or an out (from what I read). That is a bit of a bummer because the ball certainly touched the batter. Either result would have been better for the Cubs.

I suppose the key question is why a play like this is not reviewable. The replay rules are constantly tweaked – this might be one that gets looked at in the future. But, in the end, as the rules are written, the umpires got this one right.

Page 39 of RuleGraphics covers the play where a ball strikes a batter.


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