Dropped third strike...why?

So the question was asked in the GZ about why Gallo was not charged with runners left on base when he struck out, and reached base on a wild pitch. The short answer is…individual LOB are runners left on base when the batter makes an out. So by definition, Gallo reached base, and all runners advanced, so he is not charged with runners left on base, even though none scored from his at bat, and he struck out. The question then came up whether a batter gets charged with LOB if he reaches on an error, but no runner scores. The answer is…I’m not entirely sure, but I don’t think so. But…a runner who reaches by virtue of a misplay by the defense is often treated differently statistically. For example, a batter does not get credit for a run batted in, if the run scores as the result of an error. Likewise, a run that scores via a wild pitch is considered earned, but a run that scores via a passed ball is unearned, even though it’s not scored an error. So reaching on an error or a passed ball may be treated differently with respect to individual LOB than would reaching on a wild pitch.

This also begs the question…why does the runner get to run on a third strike not caught in the first place? Lots of folks think that’s a pretty dumb rule. The answer is…It’s a vestige of the earliest days of the game that has survived into the modern era. Back in the day, the point of pitching was to put the ball in play. There was no such thing as strikeouts. They were considered unsportsmanlike and boring, boring to the point that no one would want to pay to watch a game where 10 guys struck out. Still, a particularly inept batter could bring the game to a halt, and no one wanted a game that lasted 2 hours with a bunch of slapdicks striking out. So they made a rule that after three swings and misses, the ball was in play, same as if the batter hit it. If it was caught, it was the same as a batted ball caught in be air and the batter was out. If not caught, the batter was bound to run and had to be tagged or forced out. Even though many changes to the game came, including three strikes your out, four balls you walk, this little remnant survived in its current form.

In summary, this rule was put in to speed the game up.


Interesting. Great article below with the rule’s history.


You know, the one thing I’ve never thought about but is covered in these rules is that the play is a force out, so technically you could make the play at any base. So in a bases loaded situation, you can force the runner out at home.

I wonder how many times that’s happened in MLB history.

More times than you probably think. Bases loaded, two out…swing and miss in the dirt, catcher blocks it, steps on home plate to get the force on the runner from 3B. Usually see this a couple of times per season on any given team.

I remember one particular time with the Astros many years ago, where I believe it was Benito Santiago of the Padres behind the plate. Despite it being a force, Santiago picked up the ball and tried to tag the runner coming from 3B and missed. Run scored. This is drilled into every catcher from an early age, so I’m assuming Santiago knew the rule, just lost his head in the moment trying to make a play.

This is correct, and I have seen it happen at home.

I was thinking about forces at bases other than first moreso than forces at home. That makes a lot of sense. As a first baseman, on strikeouts it was beat in my brain to always go to the bag. Just in case.

I don’t know how often a team gets a force at say 3B on that. Now that is probably pretty rare. I’m sure it’s probably happened in MLB…a runner forgets to run or how many outs or something…but I don’t recall ever seeing it.


The part of the history which was complete news to me was: in the early days of the game, the hitter ran to first only if he hit a fair ball. He was not out, no matter how many times he whiffed, and he never walked, no matter how many were out of the zone.

It was different back then. The point was to get the batter to put the ball in play. If a guy kept swinging and missing, the pitcher wasn’t doing his job.

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Yep, I read the first pitchers lobbed the ball up there so it would be hit. Inept hitters had unlimited chances.

Kinda like coach-pitch for kids, except they only get five pitches. I excelled at hitting bats.