Join 3,554 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Baseball: caught foul tip isn't an out?
April 5, 2006 1:59 PM   Subscribe

Why is a foul tip into a catchers glove not an out, but a pop-up foul that the catcher gets is? Is there a minimum height the ball must reach?
posted by davebug to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total)
 
Actually, a foul tip into the catcher's glove is an out on the third strike. I don't really know why, baseball is just weird.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 2:01 PM on April 5, 2006


From MLB rules:
A FOUL TIP is a batted ball that goes sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher's hands and is legally caught. It is not a foul tip unless caught and any foul tip that is caught is a strike, and the ball is in play. It is not a catch if it is a rebound, unless the ball has first touched the catcher's glove or hand.
Explanation from here:
Myth # 6
The ball is dead on a foul tip.
There is nothing foul about a foul-tip. If the ball nicks the bat and goes sharp and direct to the catcher's hand or glove and is legally caught, this is a foul tip by definition. A foul tip is a strike and the ball is live. Base-runners may steal on a foul-tip. It is the same as a swing-and-miss. If the ball is not caught, it is a foul ball. If the nicked pitch first hits the catcher somewhere other than the hand or glove, it is not a foul tip. It is a foul ball. If the event of a foul tip, the umpire should not verbalize the word “foul” in any manner. Since the ball is still live and runners may advance at their own risk, verbalizing the word “foul” or “foul tip” would have a tendency to stop all action since a foul ball is a dead ball. The proper way to indicate a foul tip is to simply signal the foul tip and then signal strike.
LL Playing Rules: 2.00 Definition of Terms: FOUL TIP, STRIKE (g)
I guess the key phrase is "sharp and direct", which (I assume) is at the umpire's discretion.
posted by turbodog at 2:13 PM on April 5, 2006


At MLB's website, it gives the following definition:

A FOUL TIP is a batted ball that goes sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher's hands and is legally caught. It is not a foul tip unless caught and any foul tip that is caught is a strike, and the ball is in play. It is not a catch if it is a rebound, unless the ball has first touched the catcher's glove or hand.

So to answer your question, a foul tip is special cased in the rules from a foul ball, which is just a fly ball in foul territory. It appears, if you search for foul tip height, some leagues (including softball) used to have a rule saying that to be a foul ball (and not a foul tip) the ball had to rise above the batter's head. But it appears many of those leagues are changing their rules to the MLB's definition of a "sharp and direct" line.

As martinX's bellbottoms says, a foul tip with two strikes counts as a third strike if caught. If not, it's not a strike. A foul ball, if caught, is always an out, and if not caught, counts as strike if the batter has fewer than two strikes. Unless it was a bunt that went foul, in which case, the batter is out if he had two strikes.
posted by skynxnex at 2:15 PM on April 5, 2006


The spirit of the rule is intended to encourage batters to swing the bat more often. Caught foul tips are not exactly rare. So, if a foul tip were an out, then there are that many more chances for the batter to be rendered instantly out with one swing of the bat. Batters would therefore be less likely to swing at marginal pitches that might only be tipped. Less swings mean less offense and a less interesting game.

Since a foul tip that is caught is simply a strike, being called out because of a caught foul tip on strike three is a consistent carry-over from the previous rules.
posted by frogan at 2:26 PM on April 5, 2006


Part of the reason for this rule is just to remove ambiguity, and part of it is to prevent cheap outs. The rule essentially provides that, if the ball takes a pretty straight path into the catcher's glove, it's as if the batter swung and missed. That way there is no quibbling about whether a batter just barely nicked a ball, and more importantly, no cheap outs where a batter essentially swings and misses but is called out because of trivial contact. Otherwise there would be perverse incentive for a batter to miss the ball entirely if they were not going to get enough of the bat on it.
posted by TunnelArmr at 3:26 PM on April 5, 2006


« Older So I'm selling my house, it's ...   |  I'm getting spam text messages... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.