Monday, February 25, 2019

NCAA New Rule - Batter K'd for Intent-to-Draw HBP

The NCAA Baseball Rules Committee adopted a new rule for 2019, opting to penalize a batter who leans in to try and draw a HBP by having the umpire call a strike. One week into the season and it just happened, with an ejection for arguing it to boot, issued mere seconds after the head coach strolled out to question the umpire's decision.

Umpire prepares to eject a K-arguing coach.
The Play: It all happened during Army's second game of the young college baseball season against LSU when West Point batter Drake Titus fell behind in the count to LSU pitcher Chase Costello in the top of the 7th inning with one out and two on (R1, R3). With a 2-2 count, Drake's body made contact with Costello's pitch, HP Umpire Eddie Newsom ruling Drake out for, essentially, leaning into the pitch to bail himself out of a two-strike count. Army Head Coach Jim Foster found himself ejected from the game for arguing Newsom's decision.

The Rule (NCAA): NCAA changed Rule 8.2.d.1 after the 2018 season to penalize the batter with a strike and not awarding first base if, in the judgment of the umpire, the batter makes an intentional movement to be hit by a pitch, regardless of where the pitch is located. The guideline goes on to say that if a batter freezes in the box and is hit by the pitch, he shall be awarded first base (prior to 2019, the penalty would simply be a dead ball):
A batter may not make a movement to intentionally get hit by the pitch, regardless of the location of the pitch. He must also avoid being hit whenever possible, unless the pitch is within the batter's box occupied by the batter. If the batter's action is deemed intentional, then:
a) If the ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or if the batter moves to intentionally get hit or freezes to allow a pitch that is not within the batter's box to hit him, the ball is dead, it shall be called a strike and the batter is not awarded first base.
The Rule (OBR): It should be noted that professional baseball (OBR) has no such rule concerning an automatic intentional HBP strike, but does require a batter to make an "attempt to avoid being touched by the ball." If an OBR batter fails to avoid being touched, the penalty is simply a dead ball and the pitch is called a ball or strike depending on pitch location (Rule 5.05(b)(2)).

The Rule (NFHS): High school is similar to pro in that "if [the batter] permits the pitched ball to touch him...the hitting of the batter is disregarded except that the ball is dead. It is a strike or ball depending on location of the pitch." One related baseball rules difference with NFHS is that if a pitched ball touches a batter's loose garment "not worn properly," the batter is not entitled to first base (whereas, for instance, under OBR, it would be a base award).

Umpire-in-Chief rules a HBP strike.
Analysis: There's really not much to analyze from the accompanying in regard to the umpire's judgment—if he deems the batter moved intentionally into the pitch, then the proper call is a strike (strike three in this case). Though the play was reviewed, this is still a judgment call and as a matter of principle, we don't pick apart judgment. Perhaps we might say this is a more likely occurrence with a two-strike count than with a batter-ahead count, but that's neither here nor there. The only analysis here is rather mechanical.

First, our umpire properly rules the play dead by announcing "Time"—the pitched ball has contacted the batter and the ball is dead. Next, he points to the batter's infraction at home plate and indicates the penalty for the violation; in this case, strike three. Because the ball is dead on strike three, the batter is out and all runners hold their positions. The batter walks back to the dugout without argument while the head coach arrives at home plate.

Did the batter place his elbow into the ball?
We see our plate umpire display a "stop sign" mechanic—both because issues of balls/strikes cannot be argued by a coach who has exited the dugout and, likely, in response to something the coach has said. The coach in this case shall be permitted an explanation and clarification as to the new-for-2019 ruling and the rule itself, but shall be warned upon any attempt to argue the call.

Leaving one's position to argue balls and strikes—and the related calls of check swings, warnings, balks, and HBP-related decisions—violates one of baseball's Standards for Removal from the Game.
Related PostEjections - What and Wherefore? Standards for Removal (3/29/17).

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Batter's intentional act to draw HBP leads to strikeout, ejection (JPG)


Post a Comment