Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Case Play 2016-6 - Overrunning First Base [Solved]

It's common baseball knowledge that a batter-runner can overrun first base...but is there a limit to how many times the same player can overrun first base during the same play?

Morrison tags Cron as Estabrook looks on.
Play: With none out and none on in the top of the 7th inning of the July 6 Angels-Rays game, Angels batter C.J. Cron hit a ground ball to Rays shortstop Brad Miller, who threw to first baseman Logan Morrison as Cron arrived at first base. Replays indicate that the high throw took Morrison off the base in an attempt to tag Cron, but that in his attempt to avoid Morrison's tag, Cron ran past first base without physically touching the bag (by rule, Cron is safe until appealed). With neither player having touched first base, both Cron and Morrison turned about-face and lunged for first base, with Cron appearing to touch the base with his right hand prior to Morrison tagging the bag with his glove. Subsequently, Cron, unable to remain on the base due to momentum or otherwise, broke contact with the base, upon which Morrison tagged Cron while he was off the base. Seeing Morrison tag Cron while off base, 1B Umpire Mike Estabrook initially declared Cron out, only to quickly reverse his call to "safe" upon granting Cron protection from being tagged out while overrunning first base (technical note: a batter's running OR sliding through first base is called "overrunning"; Pursuant to definition, "oversliding is the act of an offensive player when his slide to a base, other than when advancing from home to first base, is with such momentum that he loses contact with the base").

Case Play Question: Is this the proper result (B1 safe) or should Cron have been declared out on the tag? Is the batter-runner limited to a set number of overrun opportunities per play and, if so, did Cron's initial movement past first base without touching it count as an overrun of the base?
Let's complicate matters with a hypothetical scenario. Assume two outs and a runner on third: R3 crosses home plate before Cron is tagged. Does the run score?

Does the blue portion constitute an overrun?
Case Play Solution: Pursuant to OBR 5.09(b)(4)(EXCEPTION), a batter-runner may overrun first base and cannot be tagged out if he immediately returns to the base. This produces a very unique circumstance wherein the batter-runner clearly missed first base on his first attempt, meaning OBR 5.05(b)(3) now applies and B1 shall be "considered as having reached the base," even though he has missed it. However, B1 (and F3 for that matter) clearly scrambles back to touch the base hurriedly, which provides a healthy dose of confusion regarding this play. For instance, what would have happened had F3 touched first base prior to B1, or had F3 touched B1 himself prior to his return?

How many times can a BR overrun 1st?
Taken at face value, the overrun protection at first base applies to the batter-runner throughout the entirety of the play during which he is a batter-runner (the batter-runner retains BR status for the entire play he began as a batter) [note that in NFHS, the batter-runner cannot overrun first base on a base award (e.g., BB)]. Thus, could he receive "unlimited" overrun privileges and could therefore overrun first base after returning to the base as the result of an overrun (e.g., he would not be afforded overrun protection if he was returning to first base, having attempted to advance to second base)?

Could that be it: unlimited overruns?

Seems like a loophole in the rules, or, in computer programming terms, an infinite loop.

Refer to MLBUM #44 (Runner Misses Home Plate): This is an "ordinary play where the runner misses the [base] and then immediately makes an effort to touch the [base] before being tagged" (e.g., this is not similar to 5.09(b)(12) regarding a runner who "makes no attempt to return to the base") Yes, the interpretation concerns plays at the plate, although PBUC (now-MiLBUD) put out an instruction to crew chiefs stating, "Use 7.10d [5.09(c)(4)] for all missed bases, not just home. If the ball and the runner are in the vicinity of the base, when the runner tries to return, he must be tagged to be out. Do not allow an "appeal" (no matter how obvious) of the missed base during that "unrelaxed" action. But if it was a forced base, the defense may subsequently appeal to gain an advantageous fourth out." Note: If old-OBR 7.10(d) / new-OBR 5.09(c)(4) is applicable to all bases, then so too should MLBUM #44, which refers to 7.10(d)/5.09(c)(4). Jaksa/Roder, for instance made reference to the "relaxed" vs "unrelaxed" dichotomy. Wendelstedt, meanwhile, has posited that PBUC's "use 7.10d for all missed bases, not just home" interpretation is not valid for MLB: "THIS RULE APPLIES ONLY TO HOME PLATE. At any other base whether a runner is immediately attempting to return to correct a violation or not, either he or the base may be tagged for an appeal anytime the ball is alive." Thus, Wendelstedt treats "relaxed" and "unrelaxed" in the same fashion. Similarly, these interps seem to indicate the runner has reached, but missed, his base.

Historical citation: The first mention of applying old-OBR 7.10(d) to all bases, not just home, came from an article citing Nick Bremigan in the March 1978 edition of Referee Magazine. Bremigan of Baseball Umpire Development (BUD) interpreted that in such a hectic situation (this predates "[un]relaxed" terminology), the runner must be tagged to be out. Tagging the base would not be sufficient. Bremigan's interpretation held that "beating the play" as it were (as in new-OBR 5.05(b)(3)) removes the force and, thus, commands a time play situation with regard to runners scoring. Similarly, in "The Last Time By," old 7.10(b) is explained as, "That rule literally says that a runner has not 'missed' a base, and so cannot be appealed, until he advances to and touches a base beyond the 'missed' base." Because home plate uniquely has no subsequent base which a runner may advance to, Lucy and Wilson explained that 7.10(d) was crafted to specifically address how and when home plate may be "missed." The Bremigan interpretation, thus, clarified that a base not touched in passing was to be ruled "missed" only when the runner left the immediate vicinity of that base making no effort to return.

When does a runner reach and pass a base?
Another relevant rule is 5.05(b)(1) Comment, which concerns a base runner advancing on entitlement (R1, advancing to second base on a base on balls): "If...[the] base runner...slides past the base before or after touching it he may be put out by the fielder tagging him. If he...attempts to advance beyond that base he may be put out by tagging him or the base he missed." Thus, 5.05(b)(1) Comment formally establishes that a runner is said to have passed a base when he physically passes it, whether or not he actually touches it. Recall the notion of "passing," as in "passing a runner." The entirety of the body must pass the object in order for passing to apply. Thus, if he passes a base, he must have reached it.

Replays indicate that after passing first base, B1 Cron clearly attempted to return after the double-missed tag/touch. MLBUM #44 long instructed the umpire make no signal when both the runner and fielder miss their respective touches. This season, MLBUM instructs no signal be given at bases other than (and in addition to) home plate when a similar double-missed tag/touch scenario occurs (meaning "old" MLBUM #44's no signal instruction is now redundant, but it is now consistent, as well).

B1 returns to touch first as F3 lunges for a tag.
All that said, refer back to 5.05(b)(3) and note that B1 is considered as having reached his base (even though he missed touching it) and is thus entitled to overrun it. B1 is not out until tagged while off his base without overrun protection, and in the Cron play, B1 successfully returns to first base prior to being tagged. Thus, has B1 exhausted his overrun protection when he initially ran past first base and does his subsequent voluntary breach of contact with the base upon his return now constitute the second overrun, or, more accurately, an overrun after an immediate return to the base, as in 5.09(b)(4)(EXCEPTION) and 5.09(b)(11), as represented by the green arrow in the accompanying photograph? The prevailing school of thought is that overrun protection does not apply to a runner who is returning to a base he has already reached, as in 5.05(b)(3), and, for this reason, B1 may be declared out on the play under 5.09(b)(4), being tagged while off his base without overrun protection. Because B1 reached first base prior to being put out, this would become a time play and R3's run would score (had B1 never physically touched first base, R3's run would still score unless the defense appealed that B1 never physically touched first base, in which case, R3's run would be cancelled due to this fourth out appeal under PBUC, but not necessarily under MLB where the concept of "appeal play is sustained on another runner" comes into play, albeit J/R has interpreted that, yes, the same runner may be fourth outed, and indeed scoring rules regarding fourth outs have always used the "more advantageous third out" principle). Regardless, under this judgment, the proper call is B1 out.

In other words, if U1 rules B1 safe, with due deference to an alternate explanation below this one, it is because he has interpreted Rule 5.09(b)(4) EXCEPTION in such a way as to mean that the batter-runner is afforded multiple opportunities to overrun first base, so long as he immediately returns to first base each and every time that he overruns it. This is important because it establishes that B1 has reached first base for the purposes of the hypothetical R3 time play. Yes, this is subject to protest as it is an issue of interpretation.

Runner Ichiro returns to touch the plate (link).
Similarly, had this play occurred at home plate, since the argument is that B1 "obviously" missed first base, B1 (or R3, etc.) similarly would be said to have reached home plate when he ran past it for, if B1 were to have continued onto the dugout, his run would count, unless (and until) F2 appealed that B1 never touched home plate, which he would have ample time to do with B1 in the dugout. In the 2012 ALDS photograph to the right (HP Umpire Angel Hernandez), Ichiro is said to have reached home plate the instant he has drawn even with it, although under J/R and Wendelstedt, Ichiro (not HP) must be tagged out for having missed home plate, even though he reached [and passed] it, pursuant to 5.05(b)(3). Because he is considered to have reached his base, he is not out of his base path (see following explanation).

If B1 hasn't reached first base, is he still safe?
Alternately (and this is where umpire judgment comes in), if B1 were judged to have attempted to avoid a tag and not missed his base (e.g., judgment that B1 had not yet achieved, reached, or passed first base), then the call on the field would be proper and B1's voluntary breach of contact would constitute his "first and only" overrun of first base. However, this interpretation/judgment would mean that B1's body position regarding out of base path considerations would now be relevant and the three-foot limit would apply (e.g., he has not reached the base and, thus, he is held to the base path restriction). If U1, accordingly, judged B1 to have never deviated by more than three feet from his base path, then he would be safe. If he did happen to travel more than three feet away from his base path (and, coincidentally, the base itself), he would be out for this out-of-base path reason. This is because the definition of base path relies on "the base [R] is attempting to reach safely." Under the prevailing judgment (B1 out for overrunning his return), he has already reached his base, and is under overrun protection. Under the alternate judgment, since B1 hasn't yet reached the base he is attempting, he mustn't deviate by more than three feet from the base path (or base itself). If R3, his run would not score if B1 was out of the base path prior to B1 reaching first base, nor would the run score if B1 was tagged prior to physically touching first base.

This alternate reason for ruling the runner safe would not be subject to protest, as this is a judgment call.

If B1 is ruled to be in compliance with the three-foot base path restriction, under this judgment that B1 had not yet passed first base, the proper call is B1 safe. Yet for this judgment to hold up on protest, the umpire would have to declare that B1 Cron hadn't reached first base when photographic evidence seems to suggest he had.

Official Baseball Rules Library
OBR 5.09(b)(4): A runner is out when—"He is tagged, when the ball is alive, while off his base. EXCEPTION: A batter-runner cannot be tagged out after overrunning or oversliding first base if he returns immediately to the base."
OBR 5.09(b)(11): "He fails to return at once to first base after overrunning or oversliding that base. If he attempts to run to second he is out when tagged. If, after overrunning or oversliding first base he starts toward the dugout, or toward his position, and fails to return to first base at once, he is out, on appeal, when he or the base is tagged."
OBR 5.09(c)(3): A runner is out on appeal when—"He overruns or overslides first base and fails to return to the base immediately, and he or the base is tagged prior to the runner returning to first base."
OBR 5.09(c)(4): Runner is out on appeal when—"He fails to touch home base and makes no attempt to return to that base, and home base is tagged."
OBR 5.05(b)(1) Comment: "If, in advancing, the base runner thinks there is a play and he slides past the base before or after touching it he may be put out by the fielder tagging him. If he fails to touch the base to which he is entitled and attempts to advance beyond that base he may be put out by tagging him or the base he missed."
OBR 5.05(b)(3) Comment: "If the batter-runner missed first base, or a runner misses his next base, he shall be considered as having reached the base."
OBR 5.06(b)(3)(D) NOTE: "[Runner who misses a base] may be put out by tagging the base or by tagging the runner before he returns to the missed base."
OBR 5.08(a) EXCEPTION: "A run is not scored if the runner advances to home base during a play in which the third out is made (1) by the batter-runner before he touches first base; (2) by any runner being forced out; or (3) by a preceding runner who is declared out because he failed to touch one of the bases."
OBR 5.09(b)(1): Runner is out when—"He runs more than three feet away from his base path to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A runner’s base path is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely."
"BATTER-RUNNER is a term that identifies the offensive player who has just finished his time at bat until he is put out or until the play on which he became a runner ends."

Video: Cron and Morrison roll around at first base as Angels DH reaches in the 7th ("Read more")
Alternate Link: Cron's journey around first base yields an Angels baserunner at Tropicana (LAA)


Post a Comment