Clarification of the Batting Out of Turn Rule
The rule is based on the definition of “illegal batter”. A batter that is batting out of turn is not “illegal” until they reach base. A batter that is not batting in their correct place in the lineup is “improper”. An “improper batter” may be replaced at any time during their at bat by the “proper” batter and the count remains the same. If an “improper batter” reaches base, then he becomes an “illegal batter” and the umpire, upon an appeal, shall 1) call the “proper batter” out, 2) nullify the result of the play, and 3) place the “proper batter” at the plate.
The following is a more complete version of this rule:
(a) A batter shall be called out, on appeal, when he fails to bat in his proper turn, and another batter completes a time at bat in his place. The proper batter may take his place in the batter’s box at any time before the improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and any balls and strikes shall be counted in the proper batter’s time at bat.
(b) When an improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and the defensive team appeals to the umpire before the first pitch to the next batter of either team, or before any play or attempted play (such as a pickoff attempt), the umpire shall (1) declare the proper batter out; and (2) nullify any advance or score made because of a ball batted by the improper batter or because of the improper batter’s advance to first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batter or otherwise. NOTE: If a runner advances, while the improper batter is at bat, on a stolen base, balk, wild pitch or passed ball, such advance is legal.
(c) When an improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and a pitch is made to the next batter of either team before an appeal is made, the improper batter thereby becomes the proper batter, and the results of his time at bat become legal.
(d) (1) When the proper batter is called out because he has failed to bat in turn, the next batter shall be the batter whose name follows that of the proper batter thus called out; (2) When an improper batter becomes a proper batter because no appeal is made before the next pitch, the next batter shall be the batter whose name follows that of such legalized improper batter. The instant an improper batter’s actions are legalized, the batting order picks up with the name following that of the legalized improper batter.
The umpire shall not direct the attention of any person to the presence in the batter’s box of an improper batter. This rule is designed to require constant vigilance by the players and managers of both teams. There are two fundamentals to keep in mind: When a player bats out of turn, the proper batter is the player called out. If an improper batter bats and reaches base or is out and no appeal is made before a pitch to the next batter, or before any play or attempted play, that improper batter is considered to have batted in proper turn and established the order that is to follow.
To illustrate various
situations arising from batting out of turn, assume a first-inning batting
order as follows: Player #1-#
PLAY (1). #2 bats. With the count 2 balls and 1 strike, (a) the offensive team discovers the error or (b) the defensive team appeals. Ruling: In either case, #1 replaces #2, with the count on him 2 balls and 1 strike.
PLAY (2). #2 bats and doubles. The defensive team appeals (a) immediately or (b) after a pitch to #3. Ruling: (a) #1 is called out and #2 is the proper batter; (b) #2 stays on second and #3 is the proper batter.
PLAY (3). #1 walks. #2 walks. #3 forces #2. #5 bats in #4’s turn. While #5 is at bat, #1 scores and #3 goes to second on a wild pitch. #5 grounds out, sending #3 to third. The defensive team appeals (a) immediately or (b) after a pitch to #4. Ruling: (a) #1’s run counts and #3 is entitled to second base since these advances were not made because of the improper batter batting a ball or advancing to first base. #3 must return to second base because his advance to third resulted from the improper batter batting a ball. #4 is called out, and #5 is the proper batter; (b) #1’s run counts and #3 stays on third. The proper batter is #6.
PLAY (4). With the bases full and two out. #8 bats in #6’s turn, and triples, scoring three runs. The defensive team appeals (a) immediately, or (b) after a pitch to #7. Ruling: (a) #6 is called out and no runs score. #7 is the proper batter to lead off the second inning; (b) @8 stays on third and three runs score. #9 is the proper batter.
PLAY (5). After Play (4) (b) above, #7 continues to bat. (a) #8 is picked off third base for the third out, or (b) #7 flies out, and no appeal is made. Who is the proper leadoff batter in the second inning? Ruling: (a) #9. He became the proper batter as soon as the first pitch to #7 legalized #8’s triple; (b) #8. When no appeal was made, the first pitch to the leadoff batter of the opposing team legalized #7’s at bat.
PLAY (6). #4 walks and #1 comes to bat. #4 was an improper batter, and if an appeal is made before the first pitch to #1, #1 is out, #4 is removed from base, and #2 is the proper batter. There is no appeal, and a pitch is made to #1. #4’s walk is now legalized, and #5 thereby becomes the proper batter. #5 can replace #1 at any time before #1 is put out or becomes a runner. He does not do so. #1 flies out, and #2 comes to bat. #1 was an improper batter, and if an appeal is made before the first pitch to #2, #5 is out, and the proper batter is #6. There is no appeal, and a pitch is made to #2. #1’s out is now legalized, and the proper batter is #2. #2 walks. #3 is the proper batter. #3 flies out. Now #4 is the proper batter, but he is on second base. Who is the proper batter? Ruling: The proper batter is #5. When the proper batter is on base, he is passed over, and the following batter becomes the proper batter.