At the Cardinals-Pirates game last Saturday, Nyjer Morgan led off in the top of the eighth. He bunted right in front of the plate, hesitated a moment, and was called out. I figured he must have run into the ball in fair territory. That doesn’t make sense, as he’s a left-handed batter.
Baseball Reference scored it: “Bunt Groundout: C unassisted.” So, maybe he thought it was going foul, and while he was thinking, the catcher picked the ball off the plate & tagged him. That would be simply 2/BG. (That’s how Retrosheet has it.)
Then I checked Gameday on mlb.com: “Nyjer Morgan bunt grounds out to cathcer Gary Bennett. Nyjer Morgan out on batter interference.” OK, that would be 2/BG/INT. (There were 11 plays scored like this in 2006.) Rule 6.06 says:
A batter is out for illegal action when —
(a) He hits a ball with one or both feet on the ground entirely outside the batter’s box.
(b) He steps from one batter’s box to the other while the pitcher is in position ready to pitch;
(c) He interferes with the catcher’s fielding or throwing by stepping out of the batter’s box or making any other movement that hinders the catcher’s play at home base.
(d) He uses or attempts to use a bat that, in the umpire’s judgment, has been altered or tampered with…
I guess all these would be considered “interference,” but what happened in this instance? I’m guessing (a): he was starting for first and had his right foot completely outside the box when he made contact.
Now to the hypothetical case: right-handed batter bunts and accidentally kicks the ball in fair territory as he heads for first. How would you score it? I’m pretty sure the catcher gets the putout. Project Scoresheet defines /BR for “runner hit by batted ball.” Maybe 2/BR/BG? Well, I can’t find any play like this in the Retrosheet event files. All of the /BR plays are of the type “S/BR/G6.2X2(6).”
I just listened to the replay on the MLB.com archive. Rooney & Shannon called it as the batter running into the ball in fair territory. The Pittsburgh announcers called it the same way, but questioned the call after watching the replay. So maybe my first answer was right! I guess it is possible for a left-handed batter to run into a batted ball. Must have had a “wide stance.” 😉 I still lean towards 2/BR/BG as the way to score it.