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Guest NJ Coach

Letting Ball Drop v. Infield Fly Rule

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Guest NJ Coach

Am not claiming to be the first to realize this ... but please explain the rationale:

I understand that the infield fly rule does not apply when there's only a runner on first base because the batter should usually be able to reach first before a second to first double play is turned, and therefore there's no clear advantage to the D to of dropping the ball intentionally to turn two. 

But what about a low pop up close to first base ?  1B could let it drop and easily then tag the runner and then step on the base to retire the batter.  With no throws needed for the DP, this would take much less time and give the D a reason to muff it or let it drop even with only a runner on first.

Is it assumed that a  batter should be able to reach first on every infield fly double play attempt ?

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Guest NJ Coach said:

Am not claiming to be the first to realize this ... but please explain the rationale:

I understand that the infield fly rule does not apply when there's only a runner on first base because the batter should usually be able to reach first before a second to first double play is turned, and therefore there's no clear advantage to the D to of dropping the ball intentionally to turn two. 

But what about a low pop up close to first base ?  1B could let it drop and easily then tag the runner and then step on the base to retire the batter.  With no throws needed for the DP, this would take much less time and give the D a reason to muff it or let it drop even with only a runner on first.

Is it assumed that a  batter should be able to reach first on every infield fly double play attempt ?

 

 

If an infield fly is declared the batter is automatically out. Letting the ball drop does not change that.  Batter is still out. Runner on 1B is not required to advance. 

 

If an infield fly is NOT declared the runners are screwed. Fairly common play by a smart infielder.

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8 hours ago, conbo61 said:

Important lesson for your players...

Sometimes life just isn't fair, but dems da rules.

I prefer not to think about it this way. On the contrary, it IS fair, because (a) the rules define fairness, and (b) when we apply the rules properly, enforcement will be identical when a team is on offense or on defense.

Any "unfairness" of baseball arises with bad hops and such, events beyond human control.

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12 minutes ago, Guest NJ Coach said:

But what about a low pop up close to first base ?  1B could let it drop and easily then tag the runner and then step on the base to retire the batter.  With no throws needed for the DP, this would take much less time and give the D a reason to muff it or let it drop even with only a runner on first.

Is it assumed that a  batter should be able to reach first on every infield fly double play attempt ?

 

 

That's an oxymoron.  It probably wouldn't be an infield fly.

 

Yes, the reasoning for not having the call with R1 only is that BR should make it to first if the ball falls.

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And one of the qualifications for the infield fly, is that you must have (at least) 2 runners in a force situation.  As mentioned, if IF is declared, Forces are removed.

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If he lets it drop, he risks the ball taking a bad hop, and ending up with R1 and R2. if he drops it, he could be called for an intentional drop, batter is out, force is removed. 

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Even with a runner only on 1B, the fielder is not allowed to intentionally drop the line drive or pop up. he can let it fall, untouched, but like Mr B said, he runs the risk of the ball bouncing away, and ft it's any kind of line drive, not touching it will let the ball get by the infielder. Most common times you'll see this is by a smart F2 with R1 and bunt is popped up in front of the plate. He can legally let it drop, and try to get two. Again, if he touches it on the way down, dead ball, intentional drop. BR out R1 returns. 

5.09 Making an out

a) retiring the batter

a batter is out when:.....

12) An infielder intentionally drops a fair fly ball or line
drive, with first, first and second, first and third, or first,
second and third base occupied before two are out. The
ball is dead and runner or runners shall return to their
original base or bases;
APPROVED RULING: In this situation, the batter is not
out if the infielder permits the ball to drop untouched to
the ground, except when the Infield Fly rule applies.

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2 hours ago, Guest NJ Coach said:

Am not claiming to be the first to realize this ... but please explain the rationale:

I understand that the infield fly rule does not apply when there's only a runner on first base because the batter should usually be able to reach first before a second to first double play is turned, and therefore there's no clear advantage to the D to of dropping the ball intentionally to turn two. 

But what about a low pop up close to first base ?  1B could let it drop and easily then tag the runner and then step on the base to retire the batter.  With no throws needed for the DP, this would take much less time and give the D a reason to muff it or let it drop even with only a runner on first.

Is it assumed that a  batter should be able to reach first on every infield fly double play attempt ?

 

 

The difference is, in a world where the IFF rule was never created, with runners on first and second, if the SS lets a fly ball drop in front of him, 99% of the time the defense will turn a double play, because those runners are going to be 85-90 feet away from the next base when the ball drops...and 99.9% of the time the defense will get at least one out.  So there's almost zero risk to the defense, and great reward.  Even a greater payoff with bases loaded with the possibility of a triple play (though you do risk allowing a run).

With a runner on first and a flare hit to the first baseman, if he lets it drop he MIGHT get the cheap double play, but he also MIGHT get nobody out. It's your classic "bird in hand" scenario. 

Any reward he could get in the occasional double play is offset (and maybe even outweighed) by the risk of occasionally getting nobody out.  As well, the chance of scoring difference between R1 with one out compared to nobody on with two out, is far smaller than the scoring difference between R1 with one out compared to R1/R2 with no out.  That is, as far as run prevention, the defense has little to gain and plenty to lose.

As an infielder, with a runner on first and one or none out, there are only two times where I would take the risk of letting the ball drop:
a. I see the batter has given up and hasn't even left the batter's box yet, OR

b. The runner on first is a far superior base runner than the batter - I'll let it drop (not touch the ball and drop it) to swap the runner at first - and even here, I'm only doing at is F4 or F6, closer to second base than the corners to improve my margin of error

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8 minutes ago, beerguy55 said:

and even here, I'm only doing at is F4 or F6, closer to second base than the corners to improve my margin of error

This is the other important thing. For F3 to make that play work, he's got to play in traffic. He's got a runner leaving 1B and a runner coming as well as F4 and F1 coming in to cover 1B. Like beerguy said, the odds aren't, so most players should know not to risk it. But if they do, there isn't a rule that will prevent a bad decision. 

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1 hour ago, Mister B said:

This is the other important thing. For F3 to make that play work, he's got to play in traffic. He's got a runner leaving 1B and a runner coming as well as F4 and F1 coming in to cover 1B. Like beerguy said, the odds aren't, so most players should know not to risk it. But if they do, there isn't a rule that will prevent a bad decision. 

It actually works most of the time.

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7 minutes ago, alex7 said:

And if I read the OP correctly, Guest has the 1B tagging the BR first.  This would allow the R to either make it to 2nd base as the fielder is running at the BR (who could stop and even go back towards home in FED), or the R could just stay at 1st after the BR is tagged out.

Just a few reasons why no protection rule is needed here, and along with many of your other points, why it's a risk.

You misread it.

" 1B could let it drop and easily then tag the runner and then step on the base to retire the batter. "

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15 minutes ago, Rich Ives said:

You misread it.

" 1B could let it drop and easily then tag the runner and then step on the base to retire the batter. "

apparently scrolling all the way up to the top of the page was too much work for me =)

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Guest IFR

thanks for the responses...but it still seems to me the rule designed to prevent deception and cheap double plays should logically apply to pops to first base with only a runner there, mainly because the drop then double play can be achieved much more quickly and before the BR can get to first base.  There remains an advantage for the D to let it drop just as with the actual IFR conditions.

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20 minutes ago, Guest IFR said:

thanks for the responses...but it still seems to me the rule designed to prevent deception and cheap double plays should logically apply to pops to first base with only a runner there, mainly because the drop then double play can be achieved much more quickly and before the BR can get to first base.  There remains an advantage for the D to let it drop just as with the actual IFR conditions.

I am curious as to what level you umpire / coach.

 

I have never seen this as an issue.

 

You can submit rules change requests to FED and NCAA. (or, heck, make it a local rule ;) )

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thanks for the responses...but it still seems to me the rule designed to prevent deception and cheap double plays should logically apply to pops to first base with only a runner there, mainly because the drop then double play can be achieved much more quickly and before the BR can get to first base.  There remains an advantage for the D to let it drop just as with the actual IFR conditions.

I don't agree with your logic for pop ups to 1B. A batter has plenty of time to get to 1B on pop ups in order to avoid double plays... Line drives or weak flares, you may have a case, but the defense takes its chances letting the batted ball fall to the ground.

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Guest ifr

just a local youth sports coach looking to teach kids the game....and if a kid or parent asks me why IFR doesn't apply with only a runner on first I'd like have an answer other than  "because that's the rule."

I understand that calling the batter out and therefore removing the force in situations covered by the rule eliminates Defense advantage and the potential for an easy double play via deception.   That same possibility exists with only a runner on first, especially when the pop up is hit around the base because no throws are needed for the DP.

ALStripes...maybe it's semantics...a high-fly, sure the batter can still get to first.  But I've often seen balls not hit high enough for that which are still called.  My point is, a batter has significantly less time to get to first and avoid the DP than he would if the ball were hit someplace else.  I think you would agree with that.

Anyhow, it is what it is. I see inconsistent logic  but am not losing sleep over it.

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just a local youth sports coach looking to teach kids the game....and if a kid or parent asks me why IFR doesn't apply with only a runner on first I'd like have an answer other than  "because that's the rule."
I understand that calling the batter out and therefore removing the force in situations covered by the rule eliminates Defense advantage and the potential for an easy double play via deception.   That same possibility exists with only a runner on first, especially when the pop up is hit around the base because no throws are needed for the DP.
ALStripes...maybe it's semantics...a high-fly, sure the batter can still get to first.  But I've often seen balls not hit high enough for that which are still called.  My point is, a batter has significantly less time to get to first and avoid the DP than he would if the ball were hit someplace else.  I think you would agree with that.
Anyhow, it is what it is. I see inconsistent logic  but am not losing sleep over it.

We have rules that govern intentionally dropped batted balls (read: touched or manipulated to the ground). The rule is in place because the batter is always able to run on a batted fly ball in the air, whereas runners are not (thinking tagging up, less than 2 outs).


The batter being able to advance without that worry is why IFR is in place with two+ forced runners. Yes, line drives and flares to 1B end up being a potential chaos but the defense still takes a chance in letting the ball fall to the ground where it could take a bad hop and/or the two outs would still have to be made with clean play.


I understand your question and scenarios; however, there are rules that govern those situations. Any way it plays out, there are potential advantages and disadvantages. And honestly, the disadvantages to the defense letting that ball fall are much more probable to happen in youth sports than is in higher levels of ball
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3 hours ago, Guest IFR said:

thanks for the responses...but it still seems to me the rule designed to prevent deception and cheap double plays should logically apply to pops to first base with only a runner there, mainly because the drop then double play can be achieved much more quickly and before the BR can get to first base.  There remains an advantage for the D to let it drop just as with the actual IFR conditions.

Maybe, but in 35 years of playing/coaching I have seen this done exactly zero times - where specifically a batter who was trying to get to first just did not have enough time to do so.   I've seen a few accidents result in DP's in this scenario (like Prince Fielder did a few years ago), but never intentional.  I've also seen a second baseman do it when the batter just stood in the box staring at his fly ball in disgust - and we shouldn't be editing the rules for stupidity.  Probably 99% of youth players (Hell, a lot of pros) wouldn't have the presence of mind to even think of this in the situation, in the moment....and the other 1% that would think of it may not play first base, or may not actually see the opportunity even present itself over a period of several years.

It's rare enough for this situation to actually arise, let alone be executed.

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I would guess that it adds to the likelihood of a double play. With R1, there is only one option for a forced DP, R1 and R2, there are now multiple options. I don't believe the rule is to get rid of all cheap double plays, it's to limit their happening in a game. 

 

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3 hours ago, Guest IFR said:

thanks for the responses...but it still seems to me the rule designed to prevent deception and cheap double plays should logically apply to pops to first base with only a runner there, mainly because the drop then double play can be achieved much more quickly and before the BR can get to first base.  There remains an advantage for the D to let it drop just as with the actual IFR conditions.

It does. It's just not the infield fly rule, it's the rule for an intentionally dropped ball. The thought process is if the fielder has enough time to let the ball drop and still control it, in a non IFF scenario, then the defense shouldn't have time to turn a double play. Plain and simple. If the offense isn't doing their job and gets doubled up because they're lazy, that's on them. 

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Guest iff

stk..the issue isn't for intentional muffs. it's for letting the ball drop without touching it, which is legal.

I'm moving on from this thread but the point is that a defense may indeed have enough time to turn a deceptive F3 unassisted w/ ball drop (again, no contact with ball) double play even if the runner is not lazy.  Other DPs requiring throws, yes, offense doesn't need protection. BR should not be lazy.  But on a pop close to first base with only a runner there, the offense does need protection against the ball drop just the same as if there were runners on 1st and 2nd.

A pop to directly first with runners on 1st and 2nd. is IFF. A pop to first with only a runner on first is not, although the same protection against intentional drop is needed.

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3 hours ago, Guest ifr said:

That same possibility exists with only a runner on first, especially when the pop up is hit around the base because no throws are needed for the DP.

The first-baseman can not touch the ball in-flight and let it drop so the pop-up must be high enough so that after traveling ~90 feet it doesn't have sufficient horizontal momentum to take it past the defender after it bounces.  If it is a sufficiently high pop-up that the fielder can let it drop untouched and still pick it up immediately to attempt the DP that you describe then the batter-runner has had enough time to get close enough to 1B that it will not be a cheap double play.

If the batted-ball has sufficient horizontal velocity that it makes it out to the 1B area quickly, and the fielder is good enough to play it quickly on the first hop, then he deserves to get the double-play.  (There was a good example of this last season in the MLB.  Perhaps someone can find the video.)

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17 minutes ago, Guest iff said:

stk..the issue isn't for intentional muffs. it's for letting the ball drop without touching it, which is legal.

I'm moving on from this thread but the point is that a defense may indeed have enough time to turn a deceptive F3 unassisted w/ ball drop (again, no contact with ball) double play even if the runner is not lazy.  Other DPs requiring throws, yes, offense doesn't need protection. BR should not be lazy.  But on a pop close to first base with only a runner there, the offense does need protection against the ball drop just the same as if there were runners on 1st and 2nd.

A pop to directly first with runners on 1st and 2nd. is IFF. A pop to first with only a runner on first is not, although the same protection against intentional drop is needed.

You need one exact scenario to occur, with explicit conditions:

1. Runner on first, but not second

2. Savvy/aware first baseman

3. None or one out

4. Batter hits a light flare within ten feet of first base that gives the first baseman enough time to intentionally let the ball drop (as opposed to a hard line drive that he simply short hops, but the guy on first thought it was caught),and

5. also does not give the batter enough time to run to first with genuine effort - anything too high or too far off the base won't work.  Likewise, a ball that slow hit to  F4, F5 or F6 is likely too slow to turn a double play.

It is so rare I'd never worry about it. 

No protection is needed.  It's a risk/reward play for the defense.  I've also seen pitchers let bloop bunts drop in front of them, because the runner on first froze, and the batter is just getting out of the box, and easily turn two.  How far would we take the protection.  At some point you just need to tell the offense to hit better.

 

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Guest iff

thx beer...not worried but was looking for rationale in case asked.   I'm a youth coach.  50/70 game.   I don't believe those conditions are highly rare, and I hope to teach my infielders to be aware...

thread over.

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12 minutes ago, Guest iff said:

thx beer...not worried but was looking for rationale in case asked.   I'm a youth coach.  50/70 game.   I don't believe those conditions are highly rare, and I hope to teach my infielders to be aware...

thread over.

For the record, I am a youth coach and have done it for seven years.  At the community level and the club level.  And this is the type of play I actually will teach my defensive players to think about, and be aware of.  Winters can get boring, so we dream up a lot of scenarios in the classroom.  And even with that instruction, chalk talk, and some practices, the situation MIGHT arise once a season, and the players don't think to execute it.   If you can get your defense to execute on a play like this at the youth level, the more power to you.

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Guest ifr

beer...all it takes is a sharp 1st basemen and/or shortstop plus a reminder call before the pitch when the situation arises. You never know...

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