I’ve kept score for baseball games for a long time. Sometimes, it’s more for my amusement, and, other times, it’s in an official capacity. For the most part, scoring a game is fun and keeps you involved in the game – things like who has hit well, how many pitches the pitcher has thrown, and so on. This is important to know as the game is being played, because strategy and such toward the end of the game can be affected by trends, or status, of a variety of things.
For example, if the pitcher’s pitch count is getting high, you know there may be a pitching change. And, that may work to your advantage.
Or, if a player is 3-3 and he’s coming to bat with the winning run on second base, you may want to walk the batter intentionally.
Statistics are a huge part of keeping score. Baseball is a game of averages, so if you’re keeping stats, you can guess the likelihood of a batter getting a hit, or a pitcher’s success, based on statistics.
I’ve been the official scorekeeper for my son’s high school team now for several years. I’ve also served as an official scorekeeper for TSSAA during Spring Fling. I enjoy it.
Most of the time.
There are times when some things must be decided based on my discretion of the play and its result. In about 15-30 seconds, I have to make decisions. The most obvious decision that has to be made in all games, and the one which will create more debate, is whether a batted ball is a hit or an error.
When a pitched baseball is hit, the result can be any number of results. First, is it a hit? In most cases, this is an easy call. But, what if a fielder makes an attempt to field the ball and doesn’t, allowing the batter to reach base? Is it an error?
In other words, who gets the credit…or blame.
Such was the case this past week, when the Boston Red Sox played the Texas Rangers on Friday, May 9. Yu Darvish, the Ranger’s pitcher, was flirting with a no-hitter when David Ortiz hits a high pop up into shallow right field. The second baseman, Rougned Odor, drifted back to make a play as the right fielder, Alex Rios, came in to make the play, as well. The ball dropped to the ground, without touching a fielder’s glove, after Odor dove to catch the ball.
Here’s the video of the play.
Now, you make the decision…was it an error or a hit?
Before you decide, remember…
1. This was Odor’s second major league game.
2. The ball did not touch a glove of either player.
3. In plays of that nature, if the outfielder calls for the ball, the infielder always defers to the outfielder.
4. Up to this point, Darvish was pitching a no-hitter.
5. This is the major league.
To help you decide, here is the MLB rule for determining a hit:
A base hit is a statistic credited to a batter when such batter reaches base safely, as set forth in this Rule 10.05
(a) The official scorer shall credit a batter with a base hit when:
(1) the batter reaches first base (or any succeeding base) safely on a fair ball that settles on the ground, that touches a fence before being touched by a fielder or that clears a fence;
(2) the batter reaches first base safely on a fair ball hit with such force, or so slowly, that any fielder attempting to make a play with the ball has no opportunity to do so;
Rule 10.05(a)(.2) Comment: The official scorer shall credit a hit if the fielder attempting to handle the ball cannot make a play, even if such fielder deflects the ball from or cuts off another fielder who could have put out a runner.
(3) the batter reaches first base safely on a fair ball that takes an unnatural bounce so that a fielder cannot handle it with ordinary effort, or that touches the pitcher’s plate or any base (including home plate) before being touched by a fielder and bounces so that a fielder cannot handle the ball with ordinary effort;
(4) the batter reaches first base safely on a fair ball that has not been touched by a fielder and that is in fair territory when the ball reaches the outfield, unless in the scorer’s judgment the ball could have been handled with ordinary effort;
(5) a fair ball that has not been touched by a fielder touches a runner or an umpire, unless a runner is called out for having been touched by an Infield Fly, in which case the official scorer shall not score a hit; or
(6) a fielder unsuccessfully attempts to put out a preceding runner and, in the official scorer’s judgment, the batter-runner would not have been put out at first base by ordinary effort.
Rule 10.05(a) Comment: In applying Rule 10.05(a), the official scorer shall always give the batter the benefit of the doubt. A safe course for the official scorer to follow is to score a hit when exceptionally good fielding of a ball fails to result in a putout.