Them's the Breaks

Dynamics and fracture of Hunter Pence’s bat

If you didn’t see this Monday night, you probably saw a link to it later. It was the bottom of the third with the bases loaded for the Giants. Hunter Pence hit a broken-bat single through the infield that scored two earned runs and one unearned run on a misplay in the outfield. Giants went on to score two more runs in the inning and pretty much buried the Cardinals in the final game of their series.

What was remarkable about the hit was how Pence’s bat behaved.

One thing the author doesn’t analyze, but is important to the outcome, is how the multiple contacts imparted spin to the ball, which you can see in the breakdown — the first contact has the ball coming out with only a little rotation, but it increases with each contact. The result was a trajectory that curved away from the shortstop, who initially had leaned toward third base, only to have the ball go up the middle.

All of this is moot, though. Technically it was a dead ball, because you can only legally strike the ball once with the bat. The batter should have been called out, according to (my reading of) rule 6.05(h) But I’ll give the umps a pass for missing this one. (The Cards, on the other hand, may not be so forgiving)

2 thoughts on “Them's the Breaks

  1. The only issue in this debate is what defines a broken bat. If you read further past 6.05(h) you see the following:

    Rule 6.05(h) Comment: If a bat breaks and part of it is in fair territory and is hit by a batted ball or part of it hits a runner or fielder, play shall continue and no interference be called. If batted ball hits part of broken bat in foul territory, it is a foul ball.

  2. I interpret that as the bat splitting into distinct parts, unconnected to what the batter is holding. (The difference between that and dropping an unbroken bat is that the batter can control where a dropped bat goes.)

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