Thanks to Dave Burke from the Leicester Blue Sox for this question. For the second time on this column, there is a video to go with the question.
First of all, watch this video.
Dave’s question is this… why does the official scorer not charge an error to the shortstop, as it’s pretty clear that a double play would have ordinarily resulted, yet the team made only one out.
The question is a very good one as the spirit of the error rule would suggest that an error should indeed be charged here.
The answer can be found in Rule 10.12(d)(4): [The official scorer shall not charge an error against] any fielder when, after fumbling a ground ball or dropping a batted ball that is in flight or a thrown ball, the fielder recovers the ball in time to force out a runner at any base.
In short, “you can’t assume a double play,” as they say. So the official scorer made the right call.
It’s worth adding that if the mistake that prevented the double play being made was a muffed take for the second out, then an error would be charged to the player responsible, and the batter would get a “Grounded into double play” in the stats. This is because the play is an ordinary one from the perspective of the player receiving the throw for the second out.
Finally, note that this type of thing happens from time to time in the outfield too. If the centre-fielder drops a fly with a runner on first but is able to get the throw in for the force at second then no error is charged.
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