Saturday, April 29, 2017

Obstruction Type 2 Does Not Guarantee Free Base

Contrary to myth, Obstruction Type 2 does not guarantee a runner a free base and even allows him to be tagged out if he attempts to advance too far.

Angel Hernandez rules "Obstruction," Type 2.
During Saturday's Mets-Nationals game, Nationals baserunner R1 Jayson Werth successfully stole second base as the throw destined to retire him eluded Mets shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and rolled into shallow center field. Werth emerged from his head-first slide and attempted to advance to third base, whereupon he collided with Cabrera, who was pursuing the loose ball. After rising from this collision, Werth was thrown out at third base.

Replays indicate that 2B Umpire Angel Hernandez properly ruled Type 2 obstruction, as no play was being made on the runner at the time of the crash. Rule 6.01(h)(2) obstruction states, “If no play is being made on the obstructed runner, the play shall proceed until no further action is possible. The umpire shall then call “Time” and impose such penalties, if any, as in his judgment will nullify the act of obstruction.

The comment to 6.01(h)(2) states, "When the ball is not dead on obstruction and an obstructed runner advances beyond the base which, in the umpire’s judgment, he would have been awarded because of being obstructed, he does so at his own peril and may be tagged out. This is a judgment call."

While obstruction type one—that which occurs when a play is actively being made on the runner—guarantees safe passage to at least one base, type two obstruction uses the "nullify the act" principle instead.

Sidebar: This is not manager Dusty Baker's first exposure to Type 2 obstruction (and not his first time pleading rules ignorance regarding this play). Click here for a similar play and discussion of a 2013 Adam Hamari obstruction call. And click here for a comprehensive look at Rule 6.01 (old rule 7.06): "Obstruction, What a Pickle!"

Both instances or types (One and Two, A and B) rely on the definition, "OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner."

Thus, the umpires determined that had no obstruction occurred, the runner would still have been thrown out at third base. Accordingly, the out call stood as, to nullify the act, the baserunner would nonetheless have been retired on this play. The award on this play may be said to have been free passage back to second base, as opposed to an advance to third.

Rules Difference: In NCAA/college, the same penalty as OBR applies. In NFHS/high school, this same play would result in the automatic award of one base to the attempting-to-advance runner who is obstructed (8-3-2).

Video available via "Read More"

Alt: Obstruction Type 2 results in out call at third base


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