Coding Rules Used To Determine Reliability
(Note: the coding rules are written in a more colloquial style to maximize intelligibility to average baseball fans. Detailed rules changes follow.)
The big picture:
This is not a measure of range, but of how well players deal with balls that are difficult to handle. Some plays will be made difficult because they occur at the edge of a player’s range requiring a lunge or a dive, while some will be difficult because of bad hops or especially hard-hit balls.
Make the determination based on the positioning of the fielder. For example, if the Williams shift is on and a moderately-fast ground ball is hit to where the third baseman used to be, the play is still difficult for the third baseman who is now playing where the shortstop normally would. The primary concern is for how hard the play was for the fielder to convert into an out.
I am only interested in the initial stop of the ball, not a double play or any subsequent play on a baserunner. Just the first guy who gets to the batted ball.
The point is to put all balls hit in play (or caught in foul territory that result in an out) into one of 4 categories. If the runner is safe, the play goes into categories 1 or 2. If the runner is out or reaches on an error, the play goes into categories 3 or 4.
You do not need to score strikeouts, walks, hit batters, or home runs. You can score a HR a DNM if it passes through a player’s wingspan or as a HSP if the player catches a ball that would otherwise have been a HR, but do not code home runs where the fielder had no opportunity to make a play. Do score sacrifice attempts.
Category 1; Clean Base Hit (CH)
Begin by presuming that any ball put in play ball that does not result in an out (traditionally scored as a hit) belongs in category 1.
Category 2; Difficult Plays Not Made (DNM; base hits where the fielder at least had some chance to convert the ball into an out)
Any ball that is scored a hit, and in addition: (1) The fielder touches the ball in some way, or (2) the ball passes through a fielder’s wingspan (cleanly goes through the legs or under a glove, for example), even if the player dives and leaves his feet.
NOTES: (1) A player cannot create their own difficult play. If a player makes a routine popup challenging by falling down, the play is still considered routine. However, if the turf or field gives way under a player’s feet, that is a factor that makes the play difficult. (2) Generally, a ball that passes over the rubber that the pitcher does not convert into an out belongs in category 2, unless the ball was moving so fast that the pitcher did not have time to react. (3) The wingspan extends vertically, so a ball over a defender’s outstretched arm belongs in category 1. (4) The wingspan assumes full extension, so a ball that lands in an area the player could have reached with an extended arm belongs in category 2.
Category 3; Routine Play/Error (RP/E)
All balls which should be fielded with routine effort go in this category. Balls not converted to outs are errors.
Category 4; Hit Saving Play (HSP; Any ball that produces an out that, had the play not been made, would have resulted in a ruling of “hit” rather than error.)
Any play requiring greater than ordinary effort qualifies, since that’s the rulebook definition of a hit. The rulebook also says to give the benefit of the doubt to the hitter, so by the same logic the benefit of the doubt should go to category 4 over category 3. These are some factors to consider that might place the play in category 4:
Changes to the official scoring rules necessary to implement the “Hit Saving Play” and “Difficult Play not Made.”
Note: Proposed changes to existing language appear in bold and italics. Proposed language removals appear with strikeout font. Proposed changes that would incorporate “Catcher Blocks” and “Difficult Catches” are preceded by the word “Optional” placed in brackets.
The official score report prescribed by the league president shall make provisions for entering the information listed below, in a form convenient for the compilation of permanent statistical records: (a) The following records for each batter and runner: (1) Number of times he batted, except that no time at bat shall be charged against a player when (i) He hits a sacrifice bunt or sacrifice fly (ii) He is awarded first base on four called balls (iii) He is hit by a pitched ball (iv) He is awarded first base because of interference or obstruction. (2) Number of runs scored (3) Number of safe hits (4) Number of runs batted in (5) Two base hits (6) Three base hits (7) Home runs (8) Total bases on safe hits (9) Stolen bases (10) Sacrifice bunts (11) Sacrifice flies (12) Total number of bases on balls (13) Separate listing of any intentional bases on balls (14) Number of times hit by a pitched ball (15) Number of times awarded first base for interference or obstruction. (16) Strikeouts (b) The following records for each fielder: (1) Number of putouts [OPTIONAL: differentiated between forced and unforced putouts] (2) Number of assists [OPTIONAL: differentiated between forced and unforced plays] (3) Number of errors (4) Number of double plays participated in (5) Number of triple plays participated in (6) number of Difficult Plays not Made (7) number of Hit Saving Plays (c) The following records for each pitcher: (1) Number of innings pitched. NOTE: In computing innings pitched, count each putout as one third of an inning. If a starting pitcher is replaced with one out in the sixth inning, credit that pitcher with 5 1/3 innings. If a starting pitcher is replaced with none out in the sixth inning, credit that pitcher with 5 innings, and make the notation that he faced ___ batters in the sixth. If a relief pitcher retires two batters and is replaced, credit that pitcher with 2/3 inning pitched. (2) Total number of batters faced (3) Number of batters officially at bat against pitcher computed according to 10.02 (a) (1). (4) Number of hits allowed (5) Number of runs allowed (6) Number of earned runs allowed (7) Number of home runs allowed (8) Number of sacrifice hits allowed (9) Number of sacrifice flies allowed (10) Total number of bases on balls allowed (11) Separate listing of any intentional bases on balls allowed (12) Number of batters hit by pitched balls (13) Number of strikeouts (14) Number of wild pitches (15) Number of balks (d) The following additional data: (1) Name of the winning pitcher (2) Name of the losing pitcher (3) Names of the starting pitcher and the finishing pitcher for each team. (4) Name of pitcher credited with save. (e) Number of passed balls allowed by each catcher. (f) Name of players participating in double plays and triple plays. EXAMPLE: Double Plays_Jones, Roberts and Smith (2). Triple Play_Jones and Smith. (g) Number of runners left on base by each team. This total shall include all runners who get on base by any means and who do not score and are not put out. Include in this total a batter runner whose batted ball results in another runner being retired for the third out. (h) Names of batters who hit home runs with bases full. (i) Names of batters who ground into force double plays and reverse force double plays. (j) Names of runners caught stealing. (k) Number of outs when winning run scored, if game is won in last half inning. (l) The score by innings for each team. (m) Names of umpires, listed in this order (1) plate umpire, (2) first base umpire, (3) second base umpire, (4) third base umpire. (n) Time required to play the game, with delays for weather or light failure deducted.
any other scoring decision, each fair ball will be placed into one of three
categories: (1) those that no fielder has an opportunity to make a play on, (2)
those that a fielder can make a play on but would require extraordinary effort,
or (3) those balls which present a fielder with a routine opportunity to produce
an out. Base hit shall be scored on all balls in categories (1) and (2) when
(a) a batter reaches
first base (or any succeeding base)
safely on a fair ball which settles on
the ground or touches a fence before being touched by a fielder, or which
clears a fence; (b) When a batter reaches first base safely on a fair ball
hit with such force, or so slowly, that any fielder attempting to make a play
with it has no opportunity to do so; NOTE: A hit shall be scored if the
fielder attempting to handle the ball cannot make a play, even if such fielder
deflects the ball from or cuts off another fielder who could have put out a
runner. (c) When a batter reaches first base safely on a fair ball which
takes an unnatural bounce so that a fielder cannot handle it with ordinary
effort, or which touches the pitcher's plate or any base, (including home
plate), before being touched by a fielder and bounces so that a fielder cannot
handle it with ordinary effort; (d) When a batter reaches first base safely on a
fair ball which has not been touched by a fielder and which is in fair territory
when it reaches the outfield unless in the scorer's judgment it could have been
handled with ordinary effort; (e) When a fair ball which has not been touched by
a fielder touches a runner or an umpire. EXCEPTION: Do not score a hit when a
runner is called out for having been touched by an Infield Fly; ( f c)
When a fielder unsuccessfully attempts to put out a preceding runner, and in the
scorer's judgment the batter runner would not have been put out at first base by
ordinary effort. NOTE: In applying the above rules, When deciding
between category 2 and 3, always give the batter the benefit of the
doubt and presume category 2; score category 3 only when no element of
difficulty is present . A safe course to follow is to score a hit
when exceptionally good fielding of a ball fails to result in a putout. When
deciding between category (2) and (3), factors to consider include whether an
unnatural bounce occurs that make fielding the ball difficult, including fair
balls that touches the pitcher’s plate or any other base (including home plate)
causing an unnatural bounce, whether the fielder leaves their feet while
stopping the ball or recording a putout, whether the fielder collides with
another person or object (such as another fielder, umpire, or wall) during the
course of obtaining the ball, whether the fielder makes the play while running
at maximum speed, the handling speed required for the fielder to turn the fair
ball into an out, and the speed of the batted ball. Balls placed in category
(2), in addition to being scored as hits, will be designated “Difficult Plays
not Made” and reported in official score report. NOTE: The assessment of
difficulty shall be relative to the positioning of the fielder prior to the
batter putting the ball in play, that is, a play might be made difficult by the
positioning of the fielder.
A putout shall be credited to each fielder who (1) catches a fly ball or a line drive, whether fair or foul (2) catches a thrown ball which puts out a batter or runner, or (3) tags a runner when the runner is off the base to which he legally is entitled. (a) Automatic putouts shall be credited to the catcher as follows: (1) When the batter is called out for an illegally batted ball; (2) When the batter is called out for bunting foul for his third strike; (Note exception in 10.17 (a) (4)). (3) When the batter is called out for being touched by his own batted ball; (4) When the batter is called out for interfering with the catcher. (5) When the batter is called out for failing to bat in his proper turn; (See 10.03 (d)). (6) When the batter is called out for refusing to touch first base after receiving a base on balls; (7) When a runner is called out for refusing to advance from third base to home with the winning run. (b) Other automatic putouts shall be credited as follows (Credit no assists on these plays except as specified): (1) When the batter is called out on an Infield Fly which is not caught, credit the putout to the fielder who the scorer believes could have made the catch; (2) When a runner is called out for being touched by a fair ball (including an Infield Fly), credit the putout to the fielder nearest the ball; (3) When a runner is called out for running out of line to avoid being tagged, credit the putout to the fielder whom the runner avoided; (4) When a runner is called out for passing another runner, credit the putout to the fielder nearest the point of passing; (5) When a runner is called out for running the bases in reverse order, credit the putout to the fielder covering the base he left in starting his reverse run; (6) When a runner is called out for having interfered with a fielder, credit the putout to the fielder with whom the runner interfered, unless the fielder was in the act of throwing the ball when the interference occurred, in which case credit the putout to the fielder for whom the throw was intended, and credit an assist to the fielder whose throw was interfered with; (7) When the batter runner is called out because of interference by a preceding runner, as provided in Playing Rule 6.05 (m), credit the putout to the first baseman. If the fielder interfered with was in the act of throwing the ball, credit him with an assist, but credit only one assist on any one play under the provisions of 10.10 (b) (6) and (7). (8) A fielder who records a putout by catching a fly ball or line drive placed in Category (2) pursuant to rule 10.05 shall be credited with a Hit Saving Play. [OPTIONAL: (9) A fielder who records a putout on a force play either by catching a ball that bounces prior to contacting the fielder’s glove or that requires that the fielder cease contact with the base for any period prior to the putout shall be credited with a Difficult Catch.]
An assist shall be credited to each fielder who throws or deflects a batted or thrown ball in such a way that a putout results, or would have resulted except for a subsequent error by any fielder. Only one assist and no more shall be credited to each fielder who throws or deflects the ball in a run down play which results in a putout, or would have resulted in a putout, except for a subsequent error. A fielder who records an assist subsequent to stopping a fair ball placed in Category (2) pursuant to rule 10.05 shall be credited with a Hit Saving Play. NOTE: Mere ineffective contact with the ball shall not be considered an assist. "Deflect" shall mean to slow down or change the direction of the ball and thereby effectively assist in putting out a batter or runner. (a) Credit an assist to each fielder who throws or deflects the ball during a play which results in a runner being called out for interference, or for running out of line. (b) Do not credit an assist to the pitcher on a strikeout. EXCEPTION: Credit an assist if the pitcher fields an uncaught third strike and makes a throw which results in a putout. (c) Do not credit an assist to the pitcher when, as the result of a legal pitch received by the catcher, a runner is put out, as when the catcher picks a runner off base, throws out a runner trying to steal, or tags a runner trying to score. (d) Do not credit an assist to a fielder whose wild throw permits a runner to advance, even though the runner subsequently is put out as a result of continuous play. A play which follows a misplay (whether or not it is an error) is a new play, and the fielder making any misplay shall not be credited with an assist unless he takes part in the new play.
An error shall be charged whenever a fair ball placed in Category (3) pursuant to rule 10.05 fails to produce an out, or for each misplay (fumble, muff or wild throw) which prolongs the time at bat of a batter
WILD PITCHES_PASSED BALLS_BLOCKS
(a) A wild pitch shall be charged when a legally delivered ball is so high, or so wide, or so low that the catcher does not stop and control the ball by ordinary effort, thereby permitting a runner or runners to advance. (1) A wild pitch shall be charged when a legally delivered ball touches the ground before reaching home plate and is not handled by the catcher, permitting a runner or runners to advance. (b) A catcher shall be charged with a passed ball when he fails to hold or to control a legally pitched ball which should have been held or controlled with ordinary effort, thereby permitting a runner or runners to advance. A catcher shall be credited with a block any time runners are on base and a legally delivered ball (a) contacts the ground before contacting the catcher, or (b) catching the ball requires that the catcher swiftly leave a crouch, or (c) catching the ball requires that the catcher leave their feet, or(d) catching the ball requires other extreme effort by the catcher, and the runners do not advance.