Deflection Differences

As a runner, there are a couple of things you can do that will earn you a trip to the dugout as an out. You can be struck by a batted ball. You can interfere with a fielder making a play.

Both are odd occurrences. A lot of people (including umpires) think they are handled the same. Turns out there is one important difference in the rules – it is around deflections.

Here is the rule for a batted ball hitting a runner (old format):

7.08 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 his base when touched by an Infield Fly, he is not out, although the batter is out;

Here is the rule for interfering with a fielder:

7.08 Any runner is out when—

(b) He intentionally interferes with a thrown ball; or hinders a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball;

The rule for interfering with a fielder mentions nothing about a deflection. Ergo, a runner who hinders a fielder fielding a ball after it is deflected is still out. Want proof – check out this play:

If the ball would have struck this runner, he would not have been out (unless the interference was intentional – like kicking the ball) because the ball touched another fielder. A small but important difference to how these plays are called. These are the types of things that an umpire never expects to call – but they do happen.

Check out the book RuleGraphics for more examples of the rules made easier.