Saturday, June 10, 2023

Runner Madrigal Out for Sliding Past 2nd on Walk, But...

Despite being awarded second base on a walk to teammate Seiya Suzuki, Replay Review declared Cubs baserunner Nick Madrigal out at second, Crew Chief Brian O'Nora explaining the runner was out for sliding past second base, 2B Umpire Nestor Ceja's call (which after crew consultation was safe) overturned by Replay HQ. Was this the correct call?

With one out and Madrigal on first base for Chicago, Giants pitcher Anthony DeSclafani's 3-2 pitch to Cubs batter Suzuki ran low, ruled ball four by HP Umpire Pat Hoberg as R1 Madrigal, running on the pitch, slid into second base and Giants catcher Patrick Bailey threw to second baseman Thairo Estrada, who applied a tag as R1 Madrigal slid into the base. 2B Umpire Ceja initially ruled Madrigal out as Estrada kept the tag on him, but changed the call to safe after discussion with the crew regarding whether the runner had actually past second base or not.

Giants manager Gabe Kapler challenged the safe call, claiming Madrigal should have been out on the tag for having passed second base, and Replay evidently agreed, overturning Ceja's call and awarding San Francisco an out.

In sum, on ball four, the runner at first base is forced to advance to second and, due to the batter's base award, entitled to that base without liability to be put out. However, if that runner runs or slides past their base award, then they are liable to be tagged out: the key, pursuant to Official Baseball Rule 5.05(b)(1) Comment, is whether or not the runner has run or slid "past the base" or not.

Past is a significant word here, as the MLB Umpire Manual defines when a runner is considered to have passed a base. If the runner is not yet past a base, that runner is considered to still be prior (even if the runner is on the base itself).

MLBUM specifies the following: "A runner is considered to have passed a base if he has both feet on the ground beyond the back edge of the base or beyond the edge of the base in the direction in which they are advancing."

Accordingly, with replays clearly indicating that R1 Madrigal's left foot never landed on the ground beyond the back edge of the base, the runner should have been deemed safe, for having remained prior and never actually passing second base, regardless of the fielder's tag.


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