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When does a swing start?


Guest CCBAG

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Guest CCBAG

When does a swing start?

Example 1: Pitcher starts his motion (ball is still in his hand) and the batter starts a full swing and is in motion when the ball is released by the pitcher. Swing or no swing. 

Example 2: Pitch is delivered and the batter “swings  late”. His swing is started as the ball hits the catchers mitt. Swing or no swing?

When is it too early or too late for a swing not to be a swing? What is the “window” of the swing.

Thank you for the clarification.

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There is precious little written on this subject. I did, however, find the following play in a copy of Referee magazine dated November 2014—

Very Late Swing

Play: R1 is attempting to steal second. The pitch to B3 is in the dirt, so B3 does not swing immediately. However, once the ball is past him, B3 waves the bat at the ball. Ruling: lf the ball is clearly past, the batter cannot be charged with a strike. However, he can be charged with interference if he hinders F2's attempt to throw the ball (NFHS 7-3-5c; NCAA 7-11f; pro 6.03a-3).

But there is a huge caveat that goes along with this play from Referee. We have video posted on this site of two plays from the MLB that pretty much match the OP—the case of Pablo Sandoval in 2014 and one with Andrew Benintendi from 2018. In both instances the batter swung at the pitch after it was caught by the catcher and then both times the umpire signaled strike.

A strike by actual definition in the rule book is “a pitch that is struck at by the batter and is missed.” It’s up to the umpire’s judgment as to whether the batter “struck at” the pitch. I guess that’s as close as we are going to come to answering your question. But I have to admit I like the Referee case play.

 

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Swing is a judgment call to whether the batter "struck at" the ball.

If the umpire judges that the batter was actually trying to hit the ball it doesn't matter how late or early the batter swings.

NOTE:  all intentional attempts to hit the ball are swings, but not all swings are intentional attempts to hit the ball  (eg. a check swing lacks intent - in fact the intent is to not swing, or stop the swing - but it can still be ruled the batter struck at the ball)

 

There is a point, past the catcher, where you can't strike at the ball - eg. to get an uncaught third strike on a wild pitch to the fence - in that case the ump is ruling you didn't strike at the ball, even though you did "swing"

 

Clear as mud?

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