QUESTION - In the Orem Youth Baseball youth divisions that allow leading off there is confusion as to why sometimes a dropped third strike gets the batter immediately called out and other times the umpire calls “Strike 3” but the runner then tries to run to first base. Can you explain the rule? --Concerned Parent
ANSWER - Dear Concerned Parent, when the particular division allows leading off, then the uncaught third strike rule is also in effect in that division. In Orem Youth Baseball the rule is in effect for our 11-12 Majors and 13-14 Pony divisions. In Monday Night Lights games, the 11U and 12U also have the dropped 3rd strike rule in effect. In all the lower divisions the dropped third strike rule is not in effect and the batter is immediately called out. The uncaught third strike rule has a few scenarios that are ruled differently.
RULES - The Official Rules of Major League Baseball cover this situation where a third strike is dropped in section 6.09(b) and 6.05 (b,c).
6.09 The batter becomes a runner when—
(b) The third strike called by the umpire is not caught, providing (1) first base is unoccupied, or (2) first base is occupied with two out;
Rule 6.09(b) Comment: A batter who does not realize his situation on a third strike not caught, and who is not in the process of running to first base, shall be declared out once he leaves the dirt circle surrounding home plate.
6.05 A batter is out when --
(b) A third strike is legally caught by the catcher;
Rule 6.05(b) Comment: Legally caught means in the catchers glove before the ball touches the ground. It is not legal if the ball lodges in his clothing or paraphernalia; or if it touches the umpire and is caught by the catcher on the rebound.
If a foul-tip first strikes the catchers glove and then goes on through and is caught by both hands against his body or protector, before the ball touches the ground, it is a strike, and if third strike, batter is out. If smothered against his body or protector, it is a catch provided the ball struck the catchers glove or hand first.
(c) A third strike is not caught by the catcher when first base is occupied before two are out;
LESS THAN TWO OUTS
- RUNNER ON FIRST - Batter is immediately called out.
- NO RUNNER ON FIRST - The umpire will call “Strike 3” but will not call the runner out. The uncaught third strike is live and the batter becomes a runner and must either be tagged out or get the ball to first base and have the bag tagged before the batter-runner arrives.
TWO OUTS - Whether first base is occupied or not makes no difference. The dropped third strike is live and the batter becomes a runner and must either be tagged out or get the ball to first base and have the bag tagged before the batter-runner arrives. RUNNERS ON FIRST AND SECOND - Each must advance and take their next base before the ball arrives.
- BASES LOADED - Any base could be tagged before the runner arrives for the force out to end the inning.
- RUNNERS ON FIRST AND THIRD - The runner at first is forced to advance, but the runner at third is not required to advance.
As an umpire, the question is what should you do when this uncaught third strike scenario occurs? I did a lot of research and finally found a newer mechanic that helps remove the confusion.
- 1) Vocally call "Strike"
- 2) Come up out of the crouch indicating "Safe"
- 3) If not obvious, then vocally say "In the dirt!", "Dropped!", or whatever is appropriate.
I used this mechanic all last season and it removed all confusion and alerted everybody as to what I was calling. The prior mechanic had the umpire raising the right hand straight out down the first base line. I found this confusing because it resembled a called third strike. The newer mechanic is obvious and removes confusion as to the call.
NOTE: If the Plate Umpire does not see the ball hit the dirt and the the Field Umpire see it, then he should yell "In the dirt!" and make the safe signal in an attempt to catch everybody's attention. Think about it, the Filed Ump often has the clearer view of the pitch.
VIDEO LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ish9_9zuq3s
QUESTION - If the bases are loaded with two outs and the strike is uncaught, can the catcher with the ball step on home plate for the third out before the batter turned runner reaches first base?
ANSWER - Yes, the force play starts the moment that the third strike is uncaught and the batter becomes a runner. If this were not so, then lots of strange scenarios would result.
QUESTION - If the 3rd strike is uncaught and the batter reaches first safely, then does the strikeout still get counted? If so, then a pitcher could get more than 3 strikeouts in an inning, right?
ANSWER - Yes. In Major League Baseball a pitcher has achieved more than 3 strikeouts in an inning 56 different times. My favorite all time MLB pitcher, Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals, was the eighth pitcher to ever register more than 3 strikeouts in an inning. He was facing the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field on June 7, 1966, when in the 4th inning he registered 4 strikeouts. The Cardinals went on to lose that game 9 to 1, but Bob Gibson went 7 innings and pitched 12 strikeouts that day.
In baseball, an uncaught third strike (often inaccurately referred to as a dropped third strike) occurs when the catcher fails to cleanly catch a pitch for the third strike. A pitch is considered uncaught if the ball touches the ground before being caught, or if the ball is dropped after being grasped (see also catch). In Major League Baseball, the specific rules concerning the uncaught third strike are addressed in Rules 6.05 and 6.09 of the Official Baseball Rules.
On an uncaught third strike with no runner on first base or with two outs, the batter immediately becomes a runner. The strike is called, but the umpire does not call the batter out. The umpire may also actively signal that there is "no catch" of the pitch. The batter may then attempt to reach first base and must be tagged or thrown out. With two outs and the bases loaded, the catcher who fails to catch the third strike may, upon picking up the ball, step on home plate for a force-out or make a throw to any other fielder.
One intent of this rule is to ensure that a defensive player fields the ball cleanly in order for that team to record an out. It was thought that it was not enough that the offensive player be unsuccessful at the plate in order for an out to be made; a defensive player must be successful as well.
Regardless of the outcome of an uncaught third strike, the pitcher is statistically credited with a strikeout. Because of the uncaught third strike rule, it is possible for a pitcher to register more than three strikeouts in an inning, a feat which has been accomplished in Major League Baseball 56 times.
If at the time of the strike three pitch, first base is occupied with fewer than two outs, the batter is automatically out and cannot become a runner. This is to prevent the defense from deliberately dropping a third strike pitch and getting a double or triple play as a result, because of the possible force play at second, third base, or home plate in this situation. LINK TO WIKIPEDIA