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How many ways is it possible for a baseball player to get to first base without a hit being recorded?


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2016-09-20 00:14:18
2016-09-20 00:14:18

A batter is not awarded first base if the pitcher balks. If there is a runner on base, he is awarded the next base.

This question is nearly the same as another one on this site: "How many possible ways can a batter get to first base?"

The answer is that there are eight ways total to reach first base. If you take away "hit" from that list, you are left with seven ways to reach first without a hit being recorded:

1) Walk 2) Hit by Pitch 3) Reach on Error 4) Fielder's Choice 5) Dropped Third Strike 6) Catcher's Interference 7) Obstruction (aka fielder interference)

For a more complete discussion of this, check out the "How many possible ways can a batter get to first base?" question.

ANSWER

Based upon my research, there actually are a total of 10 statistically valid ways for a player to reach first base. 8 of them would be ways without recording a hit.

1) Hit

2) Walk (base on balls): Rule 6.08 (a)

3) Hit-by-Pitch: Rule 6.08 (b)

4) Error

5) Strike Out: When a third strike is not handled by the catcher and touches the ground before the play is completed with less than 2 outs and first base unoccupied or anytime there is 2 outs, allowing the batter to become a batter-runner and to reach first base safely. According to rule 10.13, this play should be officially scored as a strikeout and passed ball, a strikeout and wild pitch or a strikeout and a fielder's choice. The last option occurs if the dropped third strike results in a force out at a base other than first base.

6) Fielder's choice

7) Interference (When by a fielder on a batter, this will most frequently be as a result of catcher's interference when the bat touches the catcher's glove during the swing. But, this category accounts for any kind of interference that allows the batter-runner to reach first.) Rule 6.08 (c): "Rule 6.08 The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when-"... "(c) The catcher or any fielder interferes with him. If a play follows the interference, the manager of the offense may advise the plate umpire that he elects to decline the interference penalty and accept the play. Such election shall be made immediately at the end of the play. However, if the batter reaches first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batsman, or otherwise, and all other runners advance at least one base, the play proceeds without reference to the interference."

8) Fielder's Obstruction (of a runner): (Rule 7.06 (a) is the one everyone seems to be missing so far.) "If a play is being made on the obstructed runner, or if the batter-runner is obstructed before he touches first base, the ball is dead and all runners shall advance, without liability to be put out, to the bases they would have reached, in the umpire's judgment, if there had been no obstruction."

9) A Sacrifice (see Note (C) below)

10) Drop third strike

Notes of discussion:

A) Number 7 and 8 above are listed separately because they are generally different in how they are ruled, as well as in the status of the player being interfered with/obstructed. Number 7 (in the case of catcher's [or possibly any fielder's] interference) involves interference of the player while he is still deemed to be a batter and number 8 involves the player after he has become a runner (denoted as the batter-runner until he reaches first or is out). The rulings are different in that in number 8, the play is called dead immediately and in number 7, the play is allowed to continue and the manager of the interfered player can be allowed to opt to accept the play instead of the interference penalty, if desired. I could easily see an argument for counting interference and obstruction items in one category as similar items. But, for the reasons noted, I am counting them as separate ways for a batter to reach first base.

B) There are many plays (odd or regularly occurring) that can result in the batter becoming a batter-runner and reaching first. But, each would be officially scored as one of the 9 ways listed above. I've seen some answers on here list double, triple and home run as separate items. Yes, the batter becomes a batter-runner and does technically reach first base (and beyond) with these. But, these ways (2B, 3B or HR) all officially count as a hit. There are also times when a ball hits a runner or an umpire in play which allows the batter-runner to reach first base safely. But, this also counts officially as a hit or the ball is ruled as still in play. Rule 6.08(d) states that "The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when-"..."A fair ball touches an umpire or a runner on fair territory before touching a fielder. If a fair ball touches an umpire after having passed a fielder other than the pitcher, or having touched a fielder, including the pitcher, the ball is in play."

There are many other examples of odd plays that some might consider as a different way for a batter to reach first base. But all of them have to be ruled as 1 of the 9 methods that are listed above in this answer.

As an additional thought in regards to note (B), I would like to specifically address some other listed items in other answers that I have seen here and elsewhere subsequent to my writing this answer. One answer lists interference by another runner and umpire interference separately, even though a general category for interference is already listed. Interference is interference. Rule 10.02(a)(1)(iv) and 10.02(a)(15) only requires the official scorer to account for times when a runner reaches first because of interference or obstruction. Another item mentions thrown equipment as a separate item. If a fielder throws their equipment at a ball in order to stop it, this would merely be a hit. There is no statistic for thrown equipment. At the most, an argument could be made to count it as a form of interference, for which a category also already exists.

C) Sacrifices specifically addressed-- It seems odd that a sacrifice can be counted as a way for a batter to reach first because, by definition, a sacrifice means to give up your at-bat as an out in order to move other runners along. However, rule 10.08 allows for ways that a play can be officially scored as a sacrifice even though the batter-runner actually reaches first base. Rule 10.08(a) states that "An official scorer shall:"..."Score a sacrifice bunt when, before two are out, the batter advances one or more runners with a bunt and is put out at first base, or would have been put out except for a fielding error". And, rule 10.08 (d) states that "An official scorer shall:"..."Score a sacrifice fly when, before two are out, the batter hits a ball in flight handled by an outfielder or an infielder running in the outfield in fair or foul territory that"..."(2) is dropped, and a runner scores, if in the scorer's judgment the runner could have scored after the catch had the fly been caught." A further notation regarding rule 10.08 (d) (2) states: "Rule 10.08(d) Comment: The official scorer shall score a sacrifice fly in accordance with Rule 10.08(d)(2) even though another runner is forced out by reason of the batter becoming a runner." So, it is true that a batter-runner can reach first base on a play that is statistically scored as a sacrifice.

In my answer, I have listed the various statistically valid ways for a batter-runner to reach first base safely. Again, many, many odd plays could be listed. For example, a batted ball touches a fielder and deflects into the stands, a batted ball gets lodged in ivy or rolls under a wagon gate. There are no statistics for these specific things. They would just be a hit or an error. We could list the seemingly limitless number of ways that a hit, an error, a fielder's choice, interference, obstruction, etc. could occur. But, it would still be a hit, an error, a fielder's choice, interference, obstruction, etc. in the statistics. So, where do we draw the line? In my answer, I chose to draw it at all of the different official scoring categories for which a batter can reach first base safely.

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Someone else added this:

"There is one more way: replace the current player at first as a pinch runner."

(which I don't believe answers the spirit of the question besides the fact that the pinch runner is merely replacing a player who has already reached first base via one of the other means listed above.)

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Seriously...you guys need something else to do. There are only 6 ways for a batter to reach 1st base, not 7,8,9,10,11.

1) A hit. By the way you guys are splitting hairs, you'd delineate that into 8 ways: bunt, single, double, ground rule double, triple, home run, inside the park home run and a grand slam.

2) Walk: doesn't make any difference whether it's intentional or not. A walk is a walk.

3) Dropped 3rd strike. No debate there. yep

4) Interference: Could be a catcher, pitcher, 1st baseman or any fielder for that matter, interference is interference. Come on guys...It's not 3 or 4 different ways to get on base.

5) Hit by pitch

6) Fielder's choice

***Whoever mentioned balk..well....nevermind.

***Whoever mentioned sacrifice as a way for a batter to get on base, is one saddle bag short of a camel load. Having played baseball for 20 years, NO BATTER has ever reached base on a sacrifice, nor will they EVER....PERIOD! It's not possible. Hence the term "sacrifice".

***For anyone who mentioned either of the above, it's abundantly clear you don't know what you're talking about.

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