What’s batting out of order in baseball?

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Baseball teams must provide a written batting order to the head umpire before a game. Violating this rule is known as hitting out of rotation. If a player bats out of order, the correct batter can replace them, but penalties may apply. The batting order is strategically important, with the strongest hitters going first. Batting out of order can be advantageous, but the risks may not be worth it.

Before an authorized baseball game begins, both teams must provide the head umpire with a written batting order. This list of eligible players is also shared with the game’s media, game announcers and players. Per Rule 6.01(a) of the Official Baseball Rules, this batting order shall be strictly observed unless team managers notify the head umpire of legal substitutions. Violation of this rule is known as hitting out of rotation or hitting out of rotation.

The act of batting out of rotation may be the result of miscommunication between a player and the manager of the team who established the batting lineup. The head judge’s roster is considered the official order, but sometimes the unofficial roster in the players’ bench is accidentally transposed. Fortunately, under the rules, any player who bats out of service can be recalled by the batting team if an error is discovered. The correct batter simply takes his place and takes over the strike and ball count.

A player may also assume he will bat in the same order as in previous games and inadvertently step up to the plate out of service. Again, if the error is discovered in time by the batting side, the player may be substituted for the correct batter in that order. If the irregular batter gets a hit or a home run, however, a complicated set of penalties can apply.

It is these potential penalties that can make the “hit out of rotation” rule very confusing for both fans and players. Normally, a batter who bats out of place, but is not noticed by either team is considered a legitimate batter and play continues, provided the defensive team either pitches a ball to the next batter or makes any other defensive play, such as worn out. The defensive team must object to the batter being out of service before the start of the next play, or the batter is allowed to remain on base or credited with a home run.

If the defense asks the referee for a decision, several things can happen. If Player A is followed improperly by Player C and the defensive objects, Player C may be removed from the bases and any scoring runs due to his efforts would be nullified. The correct batter who should have followed player A, player B, could be called out before going up to the plate. Ironically, the next correct batter in the order would be Player C, the same batter who caused the problem by batting out of turn in the first place. Player C would effectively be batting twice, even though the team would be penalized with one out.

There is a significant amount of strategy built into the batting order, with the strongest hitters going first and the weaker ones batting last. The first hitter is generally a strong base runner with a good batting average, but is generally not a power hitter. The best power hitter generally bats third, with a cleanup power hitter in fourth place. Strategically, batting out of order can be to a batting team’s advantage if the bases are loaded, and a power hitter may be able to clear the bases with a home run. Considering the penalties of serving out of turn, however, the benefits may not outweigh the risks.

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