Double Dipping

In a recent game Ryan Zimmerman actually hit the ball twice on his swing. Here is the play:

The question becomes is this anything other than a cool moment.

First place to check – is it a foul ball?

Here is the FOUL BALL definition:

A FOUL BALL is a batted ball that settles on foul territory between home and first base, or between home and third base, or that bounds past first or third base on or over foul territory, or that first falls on foul territory beyond first or third base, or that, while on or over foul territory, touches the person of an umpire or player, or any object foreign to the natural ground.

A foul fly shall be judged according to the relative position of the ball and the foul line, including the foul pole, and not as to whether the infielder is on foul or fair territory at the time he touches the ball.

I see nothing in that definition that supports this type of double hit as being a foul ball.

Ok, so is the batter out?

Section 6.05 has a few rules that are close to applying.

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;

(h) After hitting or bunting a fair ball, his bat hits the ball a second time in fair territory. The ball is dead and no runners may advance. If the batter-runner drops his bat and the ball rolls against the bat in fair territory and, in the umpire’s judgment, there was no intention to interfere with the course of the ball, the ball is alive and in play. 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;

Both of these definitions start with “after hitting a fair ball”. A ball that hits the bat and not the ground yet (or has not come to rest) is not a fair ball – yet. So, I don’t see either of these definitions applying.

The spirit of both of these rules is that the batter has interfered with the chance to get an out. On this type of double hit, there is no interference.

So, I don’t see a rules basis to call it anything other than a weird swing that made contact with the ball twice. Plus, in practical purposes, if an umpire can pick this up in real time, he has better eyes than me.

Bottom line, swinging and hitting the ball twice is much different than the bat striking the ball a second time once the swing is completed.

Plays like this are covered on page 40 of RuleGraphics. See examples and ordering information at our website.

Just like he drew it up

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.