So Jeremy, exactly what is a force out in baseball?
Today, I would like to address a question that I have heard a lot lately about one of the rules of baseball….The force out.
The force out is the most commonly occurring play that the defense completes to record an out.
In this post we will answer the question; What is a Force Out in Baseball, and run through some scenarios that result in a force out being recorded.
Everything that we discuss in this post will be exactly the same in softball too.
So without further ado, let’s get this post started.
What is a force out in baseball?
A force out in baseball and softball occurs when the defense is able to record an out without the requirement of actually having to “tag” a runner, strike out a batter, or catch a hit ball in the air.
A force out will be recorded when a defender touches an unoccupied base that the runner is being forced to try to advance to while in possession of a hit ball or dropped 3rd strike before the runner reaches that base.
Sound a little confusing?
Fear not my friend!
In the next section, we will go through some scenarios of force outs that will help clear things up.
What is a force out in baseball? – Single out scenarios
Here’s the set up.
No runners are on base and the pitcher delivers the pitch to the batter.
The batter hits a ground ball to the short stop (Position #6).
The batter has to try and reach first base before the short stop can throw the ball to the first baseman (Position #3) who will then touch first base while in possession of the ball.
If the ball beats the runner to the bag, the defense will have completed a 6-3 force out.
There is always a force out at first base for the batter. Meaning that the batter is always “forced” to run to first after hitting the ball.
Next set up.
There is already a runner on first base and there are 2 outs when the pitcher delivers the pitch.
The batter hits a grounder to the third baseman (Position #5).
In this situation, the third baseman has 2 options. They can either throw the ball to second base before the runner coming from 1st, or they can throw the ball to first before the runner coming from home.
There is a force out at either bag.
The runner on first is being “forced” to try to make it to second by the runner coming from home, while the runner at home is automatically “forced” to try to make it to first after hitting the ball.
The 3rd baseman in this scenario decides to throw the ball to the 2nd baseman (Position #4) who is covering second base.
The ball beats the runner to 2nd base.
The defense has completed a 5-4 force out.
P.S. If you’re not familiar with player position numbers Check Out This Article.
What is a force out in baseball? – Double play scenarios.
Here’s the set up.
There are already runners on 1st and 2nd base with 1 out.
The pitcher delivers the pitch and the batter hits a ground ball to the 2nd baseman (Position #4).
Our 2nd baseman fields the ball and throws it to the short stop (Position #6) who quickly steps on 2nd before the runner coming from 1st.
The short stop then immediately throws the ball to the first baseman (Position #3) who catches the ball and touches 1st base before the runner coming from home.
The defense has completed a 4-6-3 double play.
Next set up.
A runner is already on 1st with no outs.
The pitcher delivers the pitch and the batter hits a ground ball to the 2nd baseman (Position # 4).
The 2nd baseman fields the ball and steps on 2nd base before the runner being forced from 1st.
The second baseman then throws the ball to the first baseman (Position #3) who touches 1st before the runner coming from home.
The defense has completed a 4-3 double play.
For more on double plays Check Out This Article.
What is a force out in baseball? – Triple play scenarios
Triple plays in baseball are rare, but they are what I consider the most exciting defensive play in the game.
Here’s the set up.
There are already runners on first and second base with no outs.
The pitcher delivers the pitch and the batter hits a sharp ground ball to the 3rd baseman (Position #5).
The 3rd baseman quickly steps on 3rd base for the first force out.
The 3rd baseman then throws the ball to the second baseman (Position #4) who touches 2nd before the runner coming from 1st for the second force out.
The 2nd baseman then quickly throws the ball to the 1st baseman (Position #3) who touches 1st before the runner coming from home for the 3rd force out.
The defense has completed a 5-4-3 triple play!
Next set up.
This will be a fun one. 🙂
Bases are loaded with no outs.
The pitcher delivers the pitch and the batter bunts the ball right in front of the catcher.
The catcher (Position #2) grabs the ball and quickly steps on home plate for the 1st force out.
The catcher throws the ball to the short stop (Position #6) who touches 2nd before the runner coming from 1st for the second force out.
The short stop throws the ball to the 1st baseman (Position #3) who touches 1st before the runner coming from home for 3rd force out.
The defense has successfully completed a 2-6-3 triple play!
As you can imagine, turning a triple play is difficult, especially at the professional level. It requires immediate and precise action on the part of every defensive player involved.
For more on triple plays Check Out This Article.
What is a force out in baseball? – Wrap it up!
As I mentioned earlier, a force out is the most commonly occurring way that the defense can record an out.
When trying to determine if a force out is an option for the defense, think of it like this:
If all the bases are occupied behind the lead runner, there is a force out at the next base.
So let’s say there are already runners on 2nd and 3rd base, but 1st base is not occupied.
In this situation the only “force out” available to the defense is at 1st base. The runners on 2nd and 3rd are not being “forced” to advance to the next base since 1st base is not occupied.
Remember that there is always a force out at 1st base for the batter in baseball and softball.
What is the difference between a force out and a tag out?
A tags out occur when a fielder tags the runner out and a force out occurs when the fielder steps on a base before the runner is able to reach the base they are forced to advanced to.
Tag Out Definition: A tag out is when a fielder touches the runner with a glove or hand when a live ball is held securely therein by the fielder and the baserunner is not in contact with a base.
Force Out Definition: A force out occurs when a baserunner is forced to leave their starting base when the batter becomes a baserunner, and a fielder successfully tags the next base before the runner can reach it.
In a force out situation the fielder can tag the runner or base to get the out.
Is a force out a hit?
No, if an advancing runner is retired on a force out, the batter will not be credited with a hit and will be scored a Fielder’s Choice (FC). A fielder’s choice does count as an official at bat and it also counts as a plate appearance.
I hope that you enjoyed reading What is a force out in baseball and that you found the article interesting and informative.
If you have any other questions that I can clear up for you, please leave a comment below and I will get back with you right away.
Thanks for stopping by ~Jeremy
Here’s one for ya.
Runner at 1st runs past 2nd on his way to 3rd on a pop fly. Realizes the fielder may catch the ball and heads back to 1st. Infielder misses the ball. runner gets stuck between 1st and 2nd with the batter on 1st. is this still a force out at 2nd?
Assuming the umpire did NOT signal that the infield fly rule was in effect and the runner made it back around 2nd, then yes, there would still be a force at 2nd.
That’s a pretty sticky situation to get stuck in!
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by ~Jeremy
What if groundball hit to 1st and runner on 1st stays on bag. 1st baseman touches bag to force batter out then tags runner still on 1st base bag. Double play or only 1 out?
If the runner refuses to leave the bag in this situation, when the 1st baseman touches 1st for the out, the other runner is out too, making it a double play. The 1st baseman wouldn’t even need to actually tag the runner, they have basically just given up an out without even trying to run.
If the runner refuses to run when forced, the umpire should call them out.
The instant the batter makes contact with the ball, the runner on 1st base is forced to advance, thereby creating a force out at 1st and 2nd.
Have a great day my friend and thanks for stopping by. ~Jeremy
Tiffany J. Moore says
Just don’t have any questions right now and of course, your post is very informative to me! I have just started playing this sport and I need to know about it as much as I can!
I’m glad you found the post about force outs interesting and informative.
Anytime you have any questions just stop on by and I will be more than happy to help.
Great to hear from you and thanks for stopping by.