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Joe is the founder of Project COBB, under which he serves as Stats and Research Manager for the GB National Team and chairs the British Baseball Hall of Fame. Joe's writing has been published in book form by Fineleaf.

You Are the Scorer: Number 21

YouAreScorer

Scenario: With none out and runners on first and third, the batter hits a ground-ball to the shortstop, who throws it to the second baseman to force the runner out heading towards second. The second baseman then makes a good throw to the first baseman that is in time to retire the batter-runner, but the fielder drops the ball, enabling the batter-runner to reach safely. While this is happening the runner who was on third comes home to score.

As the official scorer, would you credit the batter with a run batted in?

A – Yes.
B – No.

Highlight the text below to reveal the answer:

Answer:
 B – No.

Rule 10.4(b)(2) states:
[The official scorer shall not credit a run batted in] when a fielder is charged with an error because the fielder muffs a throw at first base that would have completed a force double play.

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9 Responses to “You Are the Scorer: Number 21”

  1. CJ #

    Not related but wasn’t sure how else to leave a comment. How would you score the following.

    None on, none out.
    Batter hits a pop-up between in the infield. Third and short both go for it but in true comical fashion they collide with each other and the ball drops between them allowing the batter to be safe at first. Who would the error be on?

    March 27, 2009 at 3:09 pm Reply
  2. Hi CJ,

    Thanks for the question. They are always welcome.

    In this case, even if the ball could have been caught with ordinary effort, if there is no way to decide which of the two players should get the error, then the batter gets a hit and no error is charged.

    It is not possible to give half an error, and it would not be right to score two errors, so the only way to apportion the error equally (as fairness dictates) is to not award one at all.

    The batter can consider him- or herself lucky.

    Joe

    March 27, 2009 at 5:48 pm Reply
  3. Chris #

    The answer to the original question really surprised me. I thought that you could never “assume a double play”, so I expected this to be the equivalent of hitting into a Fielder’s Choice.

    If the 2B muffed the throw to first, that would lead to it being credited as an RBI, right?!

    March 27, 2009 at 6:59 pm Reply
  4. Hi Chris,

    Generally, you are right that you can’t assume a double play, and the rationale is obviously that it is not an easy thing to achive. This is a special case, though, because the first baseman’s task is as easy as it would be if it was just a straight put-out. The batter is charged with a “grounded into double play”, even though only one out is made.

    Another special case where you can assume a double play is the very rare occurrence where the fielder fails to touch second base in attempting to make the first out and then makes a good throw to the first baseman in time to get the batter-runner out.

    If the first baseman takes the throw for the out then there is only one out made, but the batter again gets charged with a “grounded into double play”. The player reaches second base on an error, of course.

    On the other hand, if the first baseman drops that good throw too, then you end up with a situation where no out has been made, but the batter still gets charged with a “grounded into double play”.

    You’ve actually guessed what next week’s question is in the last bit of your comment, so I’ll leave that one for now…

    March 27, 2009 at 8:48 pm Reply
  5. Wait, the rulebook uses the expression ‘muff a throw’? That seems fairly informal.

    March 28, 2009 at 12:15 am Reply
  6. It does make me smile when I read it.

    March 28, 2009 at 12:38 am Reply
  7. Blimey, for once I actually got it right.

    I’ve gone from awarding generous credit to batters to taking every statistic away from them possible!

    March 30, 2009 at 1:57 pm Reply
  8. Roberto Saletti #

    I have come across this very intersting site and questions only now. The question posted suggests to me a variant that I am not able to score with trust.
    Same situation but bases loaded. The ground ball is fielded by the third baseman who touches the base and force out the runner from second. He perfectly throws to second where the second baseman muffs the throw. In the action the runner from third scores.
    Is it a RBI?
    Rule 10.4(b)(2) explicitly mention the muffed throw to FIRST BASE to exclude the RBI. What happens if the throw is muffed at second?

    Thanks in advance.

    November 22, 2012 at 11:56 am Reply
  9. Hi Roberto,

    Thanks for leaving the comment, which contains a very good question indeed.

    This is either an oversight in the rules (in which case the RBI is not credited) or a deliberate decision. For it to be the latter there would need to be something distinct between the two scenarios. Now I can see that the play may be trickier, because it needs to be completed more swiftly, and by a fielder travelling further to the bag, but surely that should affect only whether an error is charged or not.

    So this is one that, as it does for you, leaves me rather uncertain.

    I cannot recall a time in the thousand or so innings of baseball that I’ve scored where this has cropped up, but it remains a theoretical conundrum for me.

    If it did come up, I suspect I would award the RBI, because if a well-built hitter came marching over to me with a bat in one hand and a copy of the rules in the other, I wouldn’t want to say that I’d gone against the letter of the law.

    Joe

    November 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm Reply

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