We’ve all seen players tag up and advance when an outfielder catches a fly ball, but what happens when a baseball is hit and caught in foul territory? Can you tag up on a foul ball in baseball?
Yes, a runner can tag up and advance on a foul ball that is caught in the air by a defensive player. Just like tagging up on a regular fly ball, the runner must keep a foot on the bag until the ball lands in the defenders glove at which point the runner can advance and the ball is live.
This rule applies in the MLB, but it also applies at every level of baseball. Players from “coach pitch” all the way through high school and beyond. Runners can advance, and score, on a caught foul ball.
And because advancing on a foul out is perfectly legal, there are other aspects of a foul out that must be considered. For example, a player can also be doubled off if they are caught off the base when a foul ball is caught. In this article let’s take a closer look at advancing on a foul fly ball in baseball, and other things to consider surrounding this rule.
Can you Advance on a Foul Ball in Baseball?
While, no, you can’t just advance on any foul ball in baseball, if the foul ball is hit in the air and caught by a fielder, the runners do have the option of advancing. But just like a normal fly ball, the runners must tag up and keep their foot on the base until the ball lands in the defenders glove.
For foul balls that are not caught, as soon as a batted ball is called foul by an umpire, it is considered a dead ball until the next play begins, and runners cannot advance. But if the foul ball is hit in the air, and caught by a fielder, then base runners have the right to tag up and advance on the play.
Can you be doubled off on a foul ball in baseball?
It is important to note that if a player in the field catches a foul fly ball and a runner is playing off the base or was attempting a steal, that player can be forced out at the base he left if he does not tag up. In short, a foul ball that is caught by a defensive player is live and is played just like a regular fly ball, and a runner can be doubled off.
How Often Do Players Advance on Foul Balls in Baseball?
The most common occurrence of a runner tagging up on a foul ball is when a fly ball is hit to right field with a runner on second or third with less than two outs. The throw from deep right field to third base or home plate is one of the longest throws in baseball, and because of that, players will often try to advance.
Of course, it is most impactful when a runner is on third and has a chance to tag up and score. Just like what happens with a sacrifice fly, a runner on third can tag up and score, and when the ball is hit deep enough this is a real threat.
It is important to remember that if the fielder allows the ball to land in foul territory, it is a dead ball and no runners can advance. As we will discuss later, there are times where a fielder may choose to let the ball drop foul instead of catching it for an out.
In some major league parks, runners have the opportunity to tag up more often because of the size of the stadium’s foul territory. No matter what level of baseball you are playing or coaching, part of what you should consider when preparing for a game is the size of the park’s foul territory. This knowledge can help you put your runners on the right path and making the right decisions for when to tag or not to tag up.
Does it ever make sense for the fielder to not catch the foul ball?
There are very few times when a player should purposefully drop a fly ball, especially with the advent of the infield fly rule. However, there are times when a deep foul ball is hit with a runner on third base and less than two outs that it makes more sense for the fielder to drop the ball than to catch it and allow a run to score.
If the game is not on the line (meaning it isn’t an end-of-game scenario) most players will go ahead and take the out versus letting the ball drop. Catching the foul ball is almost always the best option.
There are scenarios at the end of a game, where, for example, the tying or winning run is on third with less than two outs, that a fielder may choose to let the foul ball drop if he knows he will not be able to throw the runner out at home. But in most situations, fielders will choose to take the out, even if it means the runner can advance on a foul ball.
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