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umpire_scott

Legal position within the batters box

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I was watching the LLWS regionals yesterday for the Southwest Region.  I believe it was the batters for Lake St. Charles, Louisiana were standing with at least half their feet outside of the white lines of the batters box to crowd the plate.  This was very effective as the Texas-East pitcher was having a great deal of difficulty throwing strikes.  I've always interpreted the verbiage in the rules manual to be that both feet must be entirely in batters box at the time of the pitch, so as PU I would not have allowed this.  I have been "corrected" by many umpires I work with who interpret the batter box rule to be the same at TOP as it is at TOH that as long as any part of their foot is touching any part of the box they are legal.  They OBR rules verbiage is as such:

(5) (6.03) The batter’s legal position shall be with both feet within the batter’s box. APPROVED RULING: The lines defining the box are within the batter’s box.

 

I've felt that since it says "within" then that means that no part of the feet cannot be outside of the box at TOP.

I have two questions:

1.  What are others interpretations of this verbiage and/or is their an accepted case-play interpretation for this?

2.  Does little league have rules verbiage that differs from OBR concerning this?

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11 minutes ago, umpire_scott said:

 

I have two questions:

1.  What are others interpretations of this verbiage and/or is their an accepted case-play interpretation for this?

PBUC 3.19 Batter's Position in the Box

When the batter assumes a batting stance in the batter's box, he shall have both feet entirely within the batter's box; i.e., no part of either foot may extend beyond the outer edge of the lines defining the box when the batter assumes a position in the box.  There is no penalty specified for violation other than the batter shall be instructed to stay within the batter's box if brought to the attention of the umpire, or - if blatant or recurring violation - upon immediate direction the umpire.  If a player, after so directed by the umpire, blatantly refuses to comply, he is subject  to ejection.

 

11 minutes ago, umpire_scott said:

 

2.  Does little league have rules verbiage that differs from OBR concerning this?

“The Right Call” Casebook -- Comment: Make sure the batter’s feet are completely inside before the pitch.

 

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You do realize that after you put the batter in a legal starting position he then can inch up as the pitch is delivered to a legal hitting position in order to protect against the outside pitch OR try to affect the pitcher. At the regional level I wouldn't think a pitcher should be affected. 

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2 hours ago, Jimurray said:

You do realize that after you put the batter in a legal starting position he then can inch up as the pitch is delivered to a legal hitting position in order to protect against the outside pitch OR try to affect the pitcher. At the regional level I wouldn't think a pitcher should be affected. 

Yes but I think the impact on the pitcher is more visual than anything else.  Once he begins his pitching motion I think the batters position relative to the plate is less significant. When the batter is crowding the plate prior to the pitch it visually impedes the pitcher from pitching to the inside part of the plate as in many instances the knees and elbows are actually in the strike zone.  And unfortunately many umpires won't call a strike on a HBP that is in zone.  I've done it on a few occasions and have caught hell from the player, coaches, and fans for it because they cannot see what I can see.  And many umpires that I have worked with do not enforce the "starting position" rule.    

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3 hours ago, umpire_scott said:

Yes but I think the impact on the pitcher is more visual than anything else.  Once he begins his pitching motion I think the batters position relative to the plate is less significant. When the batter is crowding the plate prior to the pitch it visually impedes the pitcher from pitching to the inside part of the plate as in many instances the knees and elbows are actually in the strike zone.  And unfortunately many umpires won't call a strike on a HBP that is in zone.  I've done it on a few occasions and have caught hell from the player, coaches, and fans for it because they cannot see what I can see.  And many umpires that I have worked with do not enforce the "starting position" rule.    

The PBUC guidance is good for most levels. If the catcher or pitcher does not complain leave it alone. They know what they are doing and don't need the batter moved. If you are calling a level where the catcher doesn't know he can point out the incursion and you think it is affecting the pitcher or the coach has sent bottom dwellers up to draw a walk feel free to move them back. Before @Rich Ives decides to chime in, "crowding the plate" pre-pitch can be done with a legal foot position. 

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The LL batter's box is 4" from the plate. If the batter had 1/2 his foot out of the box he'd be on the plate. I can't imagine anyone not noticing that.

Crowding the plate is legal. Don't get a hung up on it.

 

Sorry I'm late - theater weekend.

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17 hours ago, Rich Ives said:

The LL batter's box is 4" from the plate. If the batter had 1/2 his foot out of the box he'd be on the plate. I can't imagine anyone not noticing that.

Crowding the plate is legal. Don't get a hung up on it.

 

Sorry I'm late - theater weekend.

"Crowding the plate" is legal.  Having any part of your foot outside the outer edge of the box is not legal.  In the game I was watching I was probably incorrect to say 1/2 their foot was outside of the box.  But the tips of their toes were an inch or two away from home plate.  At least 2-3 inches of their feet were completely out of the box.  So they were clearly in violation of the rule.  I always enforce this and have had no issue with it because it is supported by the rule.  Now if the lines have been brushed away and I can't make an absolute determination then I'm letting it go.

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Devil's Advocate here;

If umpires insist on calling strikes on pitches in the other batter's box, what else would you expect smart hitters to do?

The other batter's box? As in 6" outside for upper codes? I'm hoping umpires aren't insisting on calling strikes on pitches in the other batter's box.

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3 hours ago, ALStripes17 said:

The other batter's box? As in 6" outside for upper codes? I'm hoping umpires aren't insisting on calling strikes on pitches in the other batter's box.

 

Fairly common. 

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3 hours ago, ALStripes17 said:

The other batter's box? As in 6" outside for upper codes? I'm hoping umpires aren't insisting on calling strikes on pitches in the other batter's box.

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Seen some "white line" strikes in the PONY WS. 

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Fairly common. 

Disappointing if not blowout games.

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Seen some "white line" strikes in the PONY WS. 

I would even venture to say 'nicking' the white line of a batters box 6" from HP is a lot different from an entire ball being over the white line of a batter's box.

But umpires insisting that pitches in the batter's box are commonly strikes I don't buy.

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2 hours ago, ALStripes17 said:

I would even venture to say 'nicking' the white line of a batters box 6" from HP is a lot different from an entire ball being over the white line of a batter's box.

But umpires insisting that pitches in the batter's box are commonly strikes I don't buy.

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I have seen a number of online umpires claim to be calling two ball widths outside. The first is a a strike because any part touching the zone makes it a strike. The second width outside is in the other batter's box in LL.  They claim it makes the batters swing. They cannot be convinced that a pre-pubescent kid with a 29" bat cannot reach the pitch AND it is not teaching zone dicipline.

In real life a number of umpires I've encountered called it that way.

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3 hours ago, ALStripes17 said:

I would even venture to say 'nicking' the white line of a batters box 6" from HP is a lot different from an entire ball being over the white line of a batter's box.

But umpires insisting that pitches in the batter's box are commonly strikes I don't buy.

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I did see a couple of those. Of course camera angle could be a factor.

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I tend to use the inner white line (meaning closest to the plate) as my reference.  If any part of the ball is nicking the white line I'm balling it.  The area between the edge of the plate and the beginning of the box is my borderline area.  If the pitch is thigh high and F1 pops a stationary mitt he's getting it.  But I won't call pitches in the other box strikes.  So batters in my game don't have any reason to stand out of the box.

On another note I always find it funny how infrequently pitchers take advantage of batters that do crowd the plate.  Over 1/2 the time when I see this I still see the pitchers trying to pitch away.  Really dumb.  Come inner half and hard and they are going to have a tough time catching up or you might jam them.  Pitching away when they crowd the plate is just dumb.  The distance you have to go away to miss the bat is never going to be called a strike.  Yet I see it all the time.

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1 hour ago, Rich Ives said:

I have seen a number of online umpires claim to be calling two ball widths outside. The first is a a strike because any part touching the zone makes it a strike. The second width outside is in the other batter's box in LL.  They claim it makes the batters swing. They cannot be convinced that a pre-pubescent kid with a 29" bat cannot reach the pitch AND it is not teaching zone dicipline.

In real life a number of umpires I've encountered called it that way.

I do agree that too many umpires take pride in having a big zone and so it has become the norm to "get as many strikes as you can".  Some are able to take this approach and still be sensible and fair about it.  Some aren't as savvy and end up calling an Eric Gregg zone.

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On a small diamond the box is 4 inches from the plate.

A pitch nicking that line is close enough at any level of the game.

I coach too. I expect that pitch to be called a strike on my hitters.

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11 hours ago, RichMSN said:

On a small diamond the box is 4 inches from the plate.

A pitch nicking that line is close enough at any level of the game.

I coach too. I expect that pitch to be called a strike on my hitters.

The second ball width is pretty much completely over the line, not just nicking it. It's a ball.

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I also think it is funny when the batter who is crowding the plate and has their elbows and arms over the plate get hit in those areas and expect to be awarded 1B and take off to 1B.  If they have their arms and elbows over the plate and they get hit by the pitch, I have called the pitch a strike and the batter stays in the box.  Have had coaches argue with me, but have sent them back to the bench area.  As far as calling pitches strikes outside, if the ball does not 'nick' the other batter boxes white line, it is a strike, otherwise I ball it. 

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I know that it isn't popular... but I try to call the plate... Pitch #6 here is less than 5" outside. Looking at it in a raw data form I don't think it is acceptable to call that pitch a strike.

numlocation.png

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45 minutes ago, JSam21 said:

I know that it isn't popular... but I try to call the plate... Pitch #6 here is less than 5" outside. Looking at it in a raw data form I don't think it is acceptable to call that pitch a strike.

numlocation.png

There is someone who thinks like me after all.

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16 hours ago, JSam21 said:

I know that it isn't popular... but I try to call the plate... Pitch #6 here is less than 5" outside. Looking at it in a raw data form I don't think it is acceptable to call that pitch a strike.

numlocation.png

To me a lot of other factors would come into play.  Did the pitch start outside and ended up there?  ball for sure.  Did the catcher position his mitt just off the plate and the pitcher stuck it there?  Probably a strike, but honestly I'd have to be behind the plate looking at it.  Did the pitch move that direction and finish there, meaning it was closer to the plate at the front part?  Depending on F2 glove movement, probably a strike.  Was the pitch at the lowest or highest part of the zone or even slightly below of above?  Probably a ball.  Was the pitch between the thighs and the gut?  Probably a strike.  And most importantly what is the level of play and how good are the pitchers at spotting their pitches?

At some point you simply umpire enough games that you can see the pitch characteristics and process it as to whether it looks like a strike.  You will always get a few coaches and/or players complain about a single pitch here or there.  That is never going to go away.  But when they complain about "your zone" in general it is usually a problem with the umpire (not always as there are always idiots).  I would estimate it's been almost 2 years since I've had a coach, player, or fan complain about "my zone".  I hardly ever get "where was that?".  Because in most cases if it looks that much like a strike to them, it also looks like one to me.  When I tried to call the plate, I got complained about fairly regularly.  Pitching is not easy.  Command of pitches is really hard.  Expecting a 14-17 year old to pitch to the plate is setting yourself up for some long games in my opinion.

For example I was working a 14U tournament a few months back.  We had 5 umpires for two fields so I was alternating fields doing 3-man.  I took the first two plates on a 14U AA field.  Pitchers were pretty accurate, although without a lot of movement in their pitches.  I called my normal zone and the two games were 3-1 and 5-2, both games went 7 full innings in about an hour and a half.  We started each game about 15 mins early and were done about 15 additional mins before the time limit.  Everyone was happy.  Fans and coaches complimented us on calling a great game.  I move over to a 14U AAA field, so supposedly better quality of play.  They also started their first game 15 mins early.  An umpire with a notoriously small zone had the first two plates.  They were 1/2 hour behind schedule when I jumped on to do 3-man with them. 

As long as you are consistent and don't get too carried away players, coaches and fans prefer a larger zone.  I doubt any umpires call pitches that cross the edge of the plate a ball.  But I've heard many coaches complain after a pitcher gets shelled "well when you have to throw it right down the middle to get a strike what do you expect".  They want and their pitchers need that pitch a few inches off the plate.

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