A foul strike is a pitch that is hit, but where it does not go between the lines to 1st or 3rd base.
In the infield this is determinded by where the ball lands or where it is fielded (so it can start fair and end up foul, or be going foul but fielded fair) while in the outfield this is based purely on where the ball lands (so if it lands fair and there goes foul it is considered a fair ball).
A batter can foul any number of pitches backwards and not be struck out unless the 3rd strike is only just (a fine touch) and this is caught by the catcher. The count remains on 2 strikes until the batter walks, gets a hit or is caught out.
A batter who bunts a 3rd strike foul will also be 'struck out.'
Strikes and balls are called by the umpire for each batter when a pitch is thrown
A strike is a pitch that a some point of its trajectory crosses part of the home plate and is between the batters knee and midriff.
A strike is also called for any pitch that the batter swings at regardless of the height or location, A swing is described as a pitch that the bat crosses the plane of home plate. (So be careful when getting out of the way of a pitch and watch you bat position/swing.)
A ball is a pitch that does not cross a part of the plate at the right area at the correct height. Three strikes and you are out, 4 balls and you are awarded 1st base.
The umpire's decision is FINAL, anything called a strike is a strike!
STRIKES, BALLS AND FOUL STRIKES
(With thanks to Glyn Vinall)
FORCE OUTS & TAG-OUTS
A force out is made when a base runner is thrown out at a base tyhat they have to run to. The most common example is when a batter hits the ball fiar and runs to 1st base. As the runner has to run the out is made simply by getting the ball the a fielder who is in coect with the base before the runner touches the base.
This would apply when there is no empty base behind a runner, so if the runner is on 2nd and 1st is empty then the runner on 2nd does not have to run on a hit. If 1st it occupied on a hit then the runner on 2nd would have to run. A base runner on 3rd only has to run if runners are on 1st & 2nd. With 2 outs runners would normally run on any hit (not always on infield hits without a force).
A force out is also recorded where a runner advances to a base on a fly-ball which is caught and returned to the base the runner started from before the runner can return to it.
A tag-out is a play where a runner does not have to advance to the next base on a hit (or when stealing a base on a pitch). In this scenario the runner has to be 'tagged' with the baseball, either in a hand or in the glove.
If the runner touches (and stays on) a base before the 'tag' is applied then he/she is called 'safe.' If the tag is applied before the runner reaches base (or moves off it) then the runner would be out.
The video on the left shows examples of this play, where a runner steals a base and the catcher throws the ball to the fielder before the runner gets to the base, or where the pitcher 'picks a base runner off on a base or where a base runner decides to try and run to a base when there is no force out situation (i.e when 1st is empty and the runner on 2nd runs towards 3rd on a hit).
The fielding positions are categorised as infield and outfield.
They are then given names and numbers. These numbers do not in anyway refer to the batting line-up.
The combinations are as follows:
Catcher - 2
First Base - 3
Second Base - 4
Third Base - 5
Short Stop - 6
Right Field - 7
Center Field - 8
Left Field - 9
Therefore a 6-4-3 double play is a short to second to first ... easy!
BASE RUNNING & FLY-BALLS
Base runners need to adopt different positions base on which base they are on, and how many outs there are at the time.
The first basic rule is that with 2 outs all the base runners run on a fly-ball, do not tag the bag or go 'halfway.'
The second rules is to listen to your base coach who will be able to advise (shout) how far to go, or whether you tag up or not.
The third rule is that you will need to tag up (re-touch the base you were running from) on any catch where you had left the bag before the catch was made (where there are less than 2 outs).
First Base :
On a fly-ball and less than two outs the runners should adance 'half-way' to 2nd base and watch the ball to see if it is caught or not, If the ball is caught the runner should return to 1st base as quickly as possible & review where the ball is thrown to see if 2nd base can be made. If the ball is not caught then the runner should advance to 2nd base (or further) while listening to thier base coach instructions/ reviewing where the ball is if its in vision.
Second Base :
Advance a third of the way if the ball has gone to LF or CF. If the ball is heading to RF tag-up aas you should be able to make 3rd on the throw. Again listen to the base coach as he will be able to where the ball is going to land and will advise how to proceed.
Third Base :
Always tag-up unless there are two outs. Listen to the base coach who wil advise when to run home (when the ball has been caught). There is no need for the runner to watch the ball, listen to the coach.
There are no dead set rules for this, other than 'always make an out' if you are unsure where to throw the ball. Force outs are clearly easier than tag outs. Always with 2 outs take the easiest play, this might not be to first as the throw is a lot shorter to second for some players.
Infielders should think about what they will do if the ball comes to them on every pitch. They should consider the following points:
How many outs are there ?
If its hit hard or soft to them ?
Can they throw out the lead runner ?
Is there a double play possibility ?
In addition to these points the infielders need to be aware of the pick-off plays from the pitcher or catcher, they should be aware of possible bunts and how to respond to them, of how quickly the ball is thravelling in the infield to guage depth and whether to check the lead runner or not before throwing the ball to a base if there is no force out on the lead runner.
Where should an infielder make a play?
In the outfield this depends on how deep the ball is fielded, whether it is caught or whether it is a ground ball.
The priority is to get the ball back into the infield as soon as possible once fielded
If caught there may be the possibility of 'Doubling off' a base runner who has advanced without tagging up, or if fielded there may me a play for a force out (if fielded shallow and the runners didn't advance is cast it was caught).
In these cases the ball should be thrown to the appropriate base. Where there is no play the ball should be thrown to the either the relay man (an infielder, but could be any of the base men or short stop depending on where the ball is hit or to the next base on from where the runner is going) so if the runner is coming in to second then the throw would be to 3rd base.
Where should an outfielder make a play?
Strike : A pitch that is swung at in or out of the strike zone
Ball : A ball outside the strike zone
Bunt : A play where the batter hits the ball with a 'still bat' and directs the ball (along a base line)
Hit : Any hit that is classed as being 'fair' (between 1st and 3rd base)
Foul-tip : A hit that barely touches the bat and is usually caught by the catcher
Foul-ball : A hit that does not go between 1st and 3rd base
Fair ball : Any hit that is classed as being 'fair' (between 1st and 3rd base)
Steal : A base runner advances to the next base on the pitch, i.e. when no hit takes place
Hit and run : A play where the batter will swing at a pitch and base runners are running on the pitch
Slide : A slide is where the base runner slides (feet or head first) into the base (to avoid a tag)
Full count : A pitch count of 3 balls (called first) and 2 strikes (called second)
Infield fly : When called by the umpire the batter is out before a play is mad, saving runners from advancing
Sac-fly : Where a batter hits the ball and is caught but a base runner advances (and hopefully scores)
Green light : Where base runner/batter are given the 'ok' to run on or hit any pitch when signals are not given