Baseball scoring rules

Tie game one out in the bottom of ninth and bases loaded. A fly ball moderately deep to left center is clearly going to end the game. But the center fielder drops the ball and the runner on third trots home.

  1. Does the batter get credited for a sac-fly and rbi?
  2. Suppose the batter and runners at first and second just run off the field and fail to advance. Can the defensive team now execute a double play and nullify the run?

Just for the record, the scenario happened last night, Marlins @ Jays. I didn’t stick around long enough to see whether the runners advanced, but I assume they did.

I am NOT a Subject Matter Expert, but I think so.

Your scenario seems to create force plays at all the bases, so if no one advances, I think force outs at third and second would mean the third out fulfills (2) and negates the run.

The guy on third trotted home. Assuming he gets there before any other player is tagged or forced out or commits some running foul then the game is over isn’t it?

No it isn’t, see the above rule

Ah! Thanks, I didn’t interpret that rule correctly.

If the fielder drops the ball, it is an error. No RBI.

After the fielder drops the ball, they would have to execute the double play before the runner from 3rd crosses the plate, which is a highly unlikely occurrence

Is the dropped ball the end of the play? And then throwing into the infield to get outs on the bases a new play? That doesn’t seem right to me, but again, I’m not a Subject Matter Expert.

If getting the force outs is part of the same play as the dropped fly ball, then it doesn’t matter when the runner crosses the plate. See the rule I cite above. It’s just an inning ending double play, and runs don’t count when those happen, regardless of the timing of the runner crossing the plate and the occurrence of the force outs.

A somewhat similar situation got quite a bit of discussion over in the MLB: May 2021 thread, where the batter-runner failed to advance to first, but…well, the play got really convoluted and has to be seen to be believed, but the upshot is that the batter-runner, who would have been the third out, actually had to make it safely to first after a runner crossed the plate in order to allow the run to count.

This is not true.

Support your statement. The only way that wouldn’t be true is if, after dropping the ball, they could get force outs at 3rd and 2nd, or 2nd and 1st. The first force is feasible, the 2nd unrealistic because nobody runs that slow in the major leagues.

Check the OP. The runners just leave the field, they never advance and touch the next base and can be declared out for failing to do so.

OP’s scenario is that the runners left the field before advancing because they thought the game was over. In that case, the defense is just tossing the ball around for the umps, they create force plays, and the run doesn’t count. The whole point of the scenario is that none of the runners, other than the one at third, even tries to advance.

Also from the OP:

There is ONE out. A fly out to center would make TWO outs, so why would the runners trot off the field thinking the game is over even if the fielder catches the ball? They can’t count to three?

They may have assumed that the game was over when the guy on third got to home plate, and perhaps also when the batter got to first. The OP doesn’t tell us what the batter did though. It’s not that unusual for players to get the rules wrong.

This is not true.

To be clear this is where you are wrong

“…they would have to execute the double play before the runner from 3rd crosses the plate…”

  1. It’s a hypothetical. OP literally asks:
  1. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch this play for several players seeming to not be able to mentally process what should be a routine third out:

With one out, even if the outfielder had caught the ball cleanly, the game wouldn’t have been over, unless the runner on 3rd tags and then gets thrown out. If there had been two outs, the base runners won’t typically just leave the field on the assumption of an out. Typically the runners in that situation would be running on contact, because if the ball is caught it’s the third out anyway, and if it’s dropped they’re that much further along the base paths. The batter in that situation will likely stop at 1st base. If the batter leaves the field before reaching 1st, then the outfielder can throw to 1st to get the out and the run wouldn’t count. But that would be a pretty boneheaded move by a batter.

It was the bottom of the ninth. If the runners legally and safely advanced (ball caught or not) the game is over.

In fact the only way the game isn’t over is for a double play to happen:

The ball is caught and the runner tagged out at home.

The ball is dropped, but the runners don’t advance enough to prevent a double play.

The question about the scoring rule was answered incorrectly. If a fielder drops a ball which in the scorer’s judgment was deep enough to score a runner anyway, it is scored as a sacrifice fly, an RBI, and an error.

That’s the question I really wanted an answer to. The other, I was almost sure of. Somewhere Bill James describes a scenario (I have forgotten the details) in which a fourth out can be recorded on an appeal play to prevent the run from scoring.

It even occurred to me that the ball could have been dropped intentionally just to create this situation (cf. the infield fly rule), but I imagine the Jays’ base coaches would have been aware of the situation and made sure the runners advanced. But I turned off the TV too soon.

When that fly ball was hit to the medium outfield, the game was effectively over and everyone knew it. Incidentally, with a runner on third and nobody out, the next two batters were walked intentionally. Next came a 5-2 force out and finally the fly ball.

There is the famous Merkle’s Boner which is kind of similar to what the OP describes. There were two outs in the ninth inning with the score tied, with runners on 1st and 3rd. The batter hit a single to center, fans flooded the field, but Merkle on first never ran to second. Eventually the team on defense got a ball to force out Merkle at second.