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Guest Jacob

What is a swing by definition?

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Guest Jacob

so as an umpire myself theres always been one big issue for me, what is a swing, I know it sounds silly but I've had many players try to get out of the way of a ball coming to hit them and doing so there arms extend and cross the plate, is this a strike or a ball? Ive had people tell me its all about intentions and if your intention was to hit the ball then its a strike but if your intentions where to get out of the way its different, please help me

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34 minutes ago, Guest Jacob said:

so as an umpire myself theres always been one big issue for me, what is a swing, I know it sounds silly but I've had many players try to get out of the way of a ball coming to hit them and doing so there arms extend and cross the plate, is this a strike or a ball? Ive had people tell me its all about intentions and if your intention was to hit the ball then its a strike but if your intentions where to get out of the way its different, please help me

Those people are correct. "Swing" is meaningless.  The criteria is "struck at" or "offered at" the pitch. IOW to call a swinging strike you have to judge that it was it an attempt to hit the pitch. 

Don't confuse this with a batted ball.  If the pitch hits the bat, no matter what, it's a batted ball and in play.  And if it hit the batter before it hit the bat a HBP, dead, and because it's dead hitting the bat "never happened". 

 

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I wouldn't go so far as to talk about intent either...or at least, don't get stuck on intent.

Like Rich said, the only determination is whether one struck at a pitch.

If you restrict yourself to "intent" then every check swing would have to be called a ball, because the batter's intent (at the end) was to NOT swing.

 

OBR doesn't even bother to define "swing" in its Definition of Terms section.

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28 minutes ago, Rich Ives said:

And if it hit the batter before it hit the bat a HBP, dead, and because it's dead hitting the bat "never happened".

True, as long as the batter did not strike at the pitch before it touched him.  I know you know this, but in the interest of correctness, if the batter is touched by the pitched ball while striking at it, we've got a dead ball strike instead of HBP.

As for the OP:

Quote

A STRIKE is a legal pitch when so called by the umpire, which: (a) Is struck at by the batter and is missed; (b) Is not struck at, if any part of the ball passes through any part of the strike zone; (c) Is fouled by the batter when he has less than two strikes; (d) Is bunted foul; (e) Touches the batter as he strikes at it; (f) Touches the batter in flight in the strike zone; or (g) Becomes a foul tip.

The batter doesn't have to "swing."  Anything that the umpire judges as "striking at" the ball is enough to call a strike.

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And to answer the followup question: 'struck at' is not defined in most codes. IIRC NCAA has some guidance about criteria for judging, but that's still not a definition.

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Perhaps this is what you recall, Mr. maven? The NCAA has some guidance on a half-swing which can be found in their definitions section (2-39). That definition says a half-swing is “an attempt by the batter to stop his forward motion of the bat on the swing.” It also tells us that such a swing is a strike if the barrel head of the bat passes the batter’s front hip. It also adds that this criterion does not apply to an attempted bunt which leads to the following official interpretation:

Bruns:  The half-swing guidelines do not apply to a batter who pivots in the box with his arms close to his body (as opposed to extended).

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15 hours ago, CJK said:

True, as long as the batter did not strike at the pitch before it touched him.  I know you know this, but in the interest of correctness, if the batter is touched by the pitched ball while striking at it, we've got a dead ball strike instead of HBP.

 

It's still a HBP. Just can't go to 1B.

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1 hour ago, Rich Ives said:

It's still a HBP. Just can't go to 1B.

Not by rule or baseball definition, nor statistically, nor for the purposes of score keeping.  It's a strike, which voids the HBP.

Only in the strictest terms of the English language in layman conversation would it be correct to say the batter was hit by a pitch (as opposed to hit-by-pitch).  The acronym would not be correct, technically.

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Guest Nick

This article appeared shortly after a strike was ruled when Giancarlo Stanton was struck in the face. I found it instructive. The article contains the video of that injury which I prefer not to post. For this reason I have cut and pasted the article for any who might likewise find it instructive. For proper accreditation the article first appeared on fishstripes.com and is authored by Michael Jong. 

You can see that Stanton picks up his right leg and starts a motion. His left arm, the lead arm, begins moving forward. Very early on, however, he attempts to bail on the motion with a checked swing and an attempt to avoid the pitch, but the pitch catches him and he turns and goes down.

Imagine now that the pitch does not hit Stanton, but he does the same thing. You can see at the end of the play that the bat flies out and into the strike zone. While it may not be in the spirit of the rule that that pitch is called a strike, it is certainly within the letter of the rule. Stanton's bat goes right through the plane of the strike zone and is rightfully considered a strike, no matter how inhumane that call is to an injured player.

Stanton is carted off to be evaluated, and Johnson steps in at the plate. On the very next pitch, Fiers throws another one off the handle that flies towards Johnson's head. In his case, the checked swing appears even more clear.

If you take a look at that video, you can see that Johnson's bat is well through the plane of the strike zone once again. Had that pitch flown past him and to the backstop, it would have been hard to argue against it being called a swinging strike. But instead, it hit his hand. But because it would have been a swing by any definition, it still counts as a swing even if it hits the batter, as per Rule 2.00.

Hutton questioned whether or not such a swing could result in a strikeout. He figured that that kind of swing would be considered more like a foul ball rather than a pure out. But according to Rule 6.05, an out occurs if the ball touches a player on a swing attempt with two strikes.

6.05
A batter is out when --
(a) His fair or foul fly ball (other than a foul tip) is legally caught by a fielder;
(b) A third strike is legally caught by the catcher;
(c) A third strike is not caught by the catcher when first base is occupied before two are out;
(d) He bunts foul on third strike;
(e) An Infield Fly is declared;

(f) He attempts to hit a third strike and the ball touches him;
(g) His fair ball touches him before touching a fielder;

The attempt to hit a third strike is considered in the swing. The fact that he began holding up has never stopped checked swings from being considered strikes, and it likewise would not affect this rule. Intent is not judged in these cases, as it is clearly a subjective thing. As per the umpire, Johnson tried to check his swing and failed to do so, moving the bat through the strike zone plane and causing a swing.

The letter of the rule was upheld. Unfortunately, it could be argued that for Miami, the spirit of the rule was missed.

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What level of play?

In short, OBR & NFHS consider whether the batter attempted to strike the ball. NCAA is the only level that mandates a strike call if the bat passes a certain location AND the batter has attempted to strike the ball. NFHS uses bat location as a guideline, but ultimately defaults to the OBR "struck at the ball" standard (the guideline isn't binding in NFHS; it is in NCAA). Don't pay too much attention to whether a batter is getting out of the way of a ball or not: the only consideration (for OBR/NFHS) is whether the batter has attempted to strike the ball and (for NCAA) additionally whether the barrel head has passed the batter's front hip.

Relevant rules, by level:

OBR [Definition of Terms]: A STRIKE is a legal pitch when so called by the umpire, which (a) Is struck at by the batter and is missed.
PBUC/MiLBUD: The umpire's decision on a check swing shall be based entirely on his judgment as to whether or not the batter struck at the ball.

NCAA [2-38]: [Half Swing] is an attempt by the batter to stop the forward motion of the bat while swinging, which puts the batter in jeopardy of a strike being called. The half swing shall be called a strike if the barrel head of the bat passes the batter's front hip. This does not apply to a bunt attempt when the batter pulls the bat back.
NCAA [7-4]: A strike is: a. A legal pitch struck at by the batter without the ball touching the bat.

NFHS [7-2-1]: A strike is charged to the batter when: (b) a pitch is struck at and missed.
NFHS [10-1-4]: As an aid in deciding, the umpire may note whether the swing carried the barrel of the bat past the body of the batter, but final decision is based on whether the batter actually struck at the ball.

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7 hours ago, Guest Nick said:

This article appeared shortly after a strike was ruled when Giancarlo Stanton was struck in the face. I found it instructive. The article contains the video of that injury which I prefer not to post. For this reason I have cut and pasted the article for any who might likewise find it instructive. For proper accreditation the article first appeared on fishstripes.com and is authored by Michael Jong. 

You can see that Stanton picks up his right leg and starts a motion. His left arm, the lead arm, begins moving forward. Very early on, however, he attempts to bail on the motion with a checked swing and an attempt to avoid the pitch, but the pitch catches him and he turns and goes down.

Imagine now that the pitch does not hit Stanton, but he does the same thing. You can see at the end of the play that the bat flies out and into the strike zone. While it may not be in the spirit of the rule that that pitch is called a strike, it is certainly within the letter of the rule. Stanton's bat goes right through the plane of the strike zone and is rightfully considered a strike, no matter how inhumane that call is to an injured player.

Stanton is carted off to be evaluated, and Johnson steps in at the plate. On the very next pitch, Fiers throws another one off the handle that flies towards Johnson's head. In his case, the checked swing appears even more clear.

If you take a look at that video, you can see that Johnson's bat is well through the plane of the strike zone once again. Had that pitch flown past him and to the backstop, it would have been hard to argue against it being called a swinging strike. But instead, it hit his hand. But because it would have been a swing by any definition, it still counts as a swing even if it hits the batter, as per Rule 2.00.

Hutton questioned whether or not such a swing could result in a strikeout. He figured that that kind of swing would be considered more like a foul ball rather than a pure out. But according to Rule 6.05, an out occurs if the ball touches a player on a swing attempt with two strikes.

6.05
A batter is out when --
(a) His fair or foul fly ball (other than a foul tip) is legally caught by a fielder;
(b) A third strike is legally caught by the catcher;
(c) A third strike is not caught by the catcher when first base is occupied before two are out;
(d) He bunts foul on third strike;
(e) An Infield Fly is declared;

(f) He attempts to hit a third strike and the ball touches him;
(g) His fair ball touches him before touching a fielder;

The attempt to hit a third strike is considered in the swing. The fact that he began holding up has never stopped checked swings from being considered strikes, and it likewise would not affect this rule. Intent is not judged in these cases, as it is clearly a subjective thing. As per the umpire, Johnson tried to check his swing and failed to do so, moving the bat through the strike zone plane and causing a swing.

The letter of the rule was upheld. Unfortunately, it could be argued that for Miami, the spirit of the rule was missed.

I completely disagree with that analysis of those two particular pitches. What happens with the bat after they get hit by the pitch is irrelevant. Obviously Stanton released the bat after being hit in the face. Neither player had even come close to what I would consider to be an attempt at the point they were hit. It's not about what's "humane." It's about common sense.

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