Can a runner forced at home be tagged out while standing on a base?
Lefty asked: Last night the As had the bases loaded vs the Angels.
The batter hit a grounder to 3rd. The runner on 3rd (Billy Butler) started back to the base even though he was forced at home.
The 3rd baseman stepped on 3rd (the runner on 2nd was forced out) and threw to 1st.
The throw was wide, Butler trotted home believing he was out and was tagged out 1st baseman to catcher.
Could the Angels have completed the triple play by: a) tagging Butler while on 3rd base; b) then stepping on 3rd base; and c) throwing to 1st?
Would Butler be out if tagged while standing on 3rd base if forced at home?
Rick answered: Lefty, thank you for your question.
Rule 5.06 (7.00) Running the bases...(a) Occupying the base:
(1) A runner acquires the right to an unoccupied base when he touches it before he is out. He is then entitled to it until he is put out, or forced
to vacate it for another runner legally entitled to the base.
(2) (7.03 a) Two runners may not occupy a base, but if, while the ball is alive, two runners are touching a base, the following runner shall be out when tagged and the preceding runner is entitled to the base, unless Rule 5.06 (d) (rule 7.03 (b) applies
(2) 7.03 (b)...If a runner is forced to advance by reason of the batter runner becoming a runner and two runners are touching a base to which the following runner is forced, the following runner is entitled to the base and the preceding runner shall be out when tagged or when a fielder possesses the ball and touches the base to which such preceding runner is forced.
As it plays out, when the batter puts the ball in play, grounding to 3B, that put all three base runners into a force situation.
When the 3B stepped on third base, the force at home plate was removed. (It is essentially the same as you get, with a runner on first base, ground ball to 1B close to bag, he steps on first, and yells tag for the middle infielder so he knows the force is removed.)
With the force removed, Butler could have returned to 3B, or tried to score, where they would have a tag play at the plate, to get the out.
Since Butler didn't make much of an effort, they were able to get the out at the plate.
The only way they could have gotten a triple play is if the 3B stepped on third and Butler was close enough to tag before he got back on the bag, then threw to first. Once the force was removed, Butler can end up back at third safe.
If Butler had gotten back on the bag before the 3b stepped on the base, when the runner from 2b reaches third, he is entitled to the base, and Butler is the one to tag.
Didn't see it play out, so don't know the timing of who was where, when.
I would guess that Melvin went nuts. Butler should have been gone on contact with the ground ball, and would score since the 3b stepped on the bag and threw across. He had two possible options and he chose door number 3, which was none of the above.
Yours in baseball,
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