Tricky Tricky

Brandon Phillips is one tricky(and smart) player. Here is a play from yesterday’s game:

http://m.mlb.com/video/v85835883/?affiliateId=clubMEGAMENU

(MLB not allowing embedding on this clip yet).

Some folks would cry foul and think the runners should not be out. Let’s break this down.

First question – is this an infield fly?

Rule 2.00 has the definitions:

An INFIELD FLY is a fair fly ball (not including a line drive nor an attempted bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort, when first and second, or first, second and third bases are occupied, before two are out. The pitcher, catcher and any outfielder who stations himself in the infield on the play shall be considered infielders for the purpose of this rule.

A FLY BALL is a batted ball that goes high in the air in flight.

There were runners on first and second, but the ball was not really a fly ball. It did not go high in the air. I would call it more of a soft line drive. I think the umpires got this one right.

Now – should the batter have been out because of an intentionally dropped ball?

Rule 6.05(l) states:

A batter is out when—

An infielder intentionally drops a fair fly ball or line drive, with first, first and second, first and third, or first, second and third base occupied before two are out. The ball is dead and runner or runners shall return to their original base or bases;
APPROVED RULING: In this situation, the batter is not out if the infielder permits the ball to drop untouched to the ground, except when the Infield Fly rule applies.

Phillips clearly let the ball ht the ground. He did not glove it and then drop it. Again, great call by the umpire. Also a super smart play by Phillips.

Compare this play to one he made 2 years ago:

In this play, the infield fly is called. The batter is out even though the ball dropped to the turf. The runner on 1st forgot about the infield fly, thought he was forced to run and got tagged out. Tagging is key. The force was removed so the shortstop smartly laid on a tag. If the runner would have stayed on 1st, the double play would not have happened.

One other quick note on this one…back to the rule book in the comment for infield fly

When an infield fly rule is called, runners may advance at their own risk. If on an infield fly rule, the infielder intentionally drops a fair ball, the ball remains in play despite the provisions of Rule 6.05(l). The infield fly rule takes precedence.

In the second instance, Phillips could have gloved the ball and dropped it. The ball would not have been dead. The runners are already protected due to the infield fly so no need to kill the ball. Of course, the runner on 1st might have stayed put if he did this, so it all worked out.

Confused? RuleGraphics makes this and other rules easier to understand. Pages 31 and 32 cover these rulings.