So what is the most unfair rule in baseball and softball?
Not sure?┬á I actually did not correctly keep score in my early years, probably because of the rule.┬á I once had one of my daughter’s travel coaches ask me why my stats were off.┬á He never told me why.┬á But another friend pointed it out to me when I was keeping score.
The rule is Fielder’s Choice.┬á 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.┬á 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”┬á 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?┬á How about when you have a runner on first.┬á The batter hits a bloop fly just out of reach of the 2nd baseman or shortstop.┬á 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.┬á 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.┬á Now the batter is credited with a “Fielder’s Choice.”┬á This actually lowers the batter’s batting average.┬á 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.┬á The batter hit a bloop fly ball down the 3rd base line.┬á Third and Short couldn’t quite get to the ball.┬á But the left fielder picked up the ball on a hop and threw the ball to 3rd base, forcing the runner from 2B.┬á 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.┬á 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.┬á 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?┬á A couple of the organizations said they would take it up at their next rules meeting.┬á I never heard any more.┬á 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.┬á I do single or group training.┬á Scorekeeping is not that difficult.┬á But it can be a little intimidating for those who haven’t done it before.┬á Plus I usually share a few tricks to make even experienced scorekeepers better.
Teach first, win later.