So, what is the most unfair rule in baseball and softball?
Not sure? I actually did not correctly keep score in my early years, probably because of the rule. I once had one of my daughter’s travel coaches ask me why my stats were off. He never told me why. But another friend pointed it out to me when I was keeping score.
The rule is Fielder’s Choice. Why is it unfair?
In my early scorekeeping days, I understood "fielder’s choice" as being any time a fielder chose to go after another runner instead of taking the easy out to first. While that part is correct, there is much more to "fielder’s choice" than an infielder choosing which runner to go after.
To paraphrase, a batter is credited with a "fielder’s choice" when a fielder attempts to put out a runner other than the batter, OR ANYTIME ANOTHER RUNNER IS FORCED OUT INSTEAD OF THE BATTER.
Where do we see this applied? How about when you have a runner on first. The batter hits a bloop fly just out of reach of the 2nd baseman or shortstop. The runner on first can’t get too far off the bag for fear of being forced out at first if the fielder catches the fly. But the fielder doesn’t quite get to the fly then that or another fielder (say a right fielder) picks up the ball on the hop and throws to 2B forcing the runner from 1st. Now the batter is credited with a "Fielder’s Choice." This actually lowers the batter’s batting average. Had the runner not been on first base, the batter would have easily been safe and credited with a hit, thereby raising his/her batting average.
It can be worse than that!
One time my daughter’s team had bases loaded, one out. The batter hit a bloop fly ball down the 3rd base line. Third and Short couldn’t quite get to the ball. But the left fielder picked up the ball on a hop and threw the ball to 3rd base, forcing the runner from 2B. Again, had there not been that force out, the batter gets a hit all day long.
Several years back, I wrote to several of the governing bodies, including MLB. Someone had told me that the reason the rule was like that was because they had to account for the out, and the batter being safe at 1st. Why couldn’t the batter be credited with a hit and the out recorded if in the mind of the scorekeeper there is no way the batter would have been put out otherwise? A couple of the organizations said they would take it up at their next rules meeting. I never heard any more. I’m guessing that it’s been recorded a certain way for so long, they wouldn’t want to go back and change it.
If you need some more scorekeeping help for yourself, your league, or a group of coaches or parents, send an email to email@example.com. I do single or group training. Scorekeeping is not that difficult. But it can be a little intimidating for those who haven’t done it before. Plus, I usually share a few tricks to make even experienced scorekeepers better.
Teach first, win later.