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In baseball, a sacrifice fly is a batted ball that satisfies four criteria:

  • There are fewer than two outs when the ball is hit.
  • The ball is hit to the outfield.
  • The batter is out because an outfielder or an infielder running in the outfield catches the ball (or would have been out if not for an error).
  • A runner who is already on base scores on the play.

As addressed within Rule 10.09(e) of the Official Baseball Rules[1], a sacrifice fly is not counted as a turn at bat for the batter, though the batter is credited with a run batted in.

The purpose of not counting a sacrifice fly as an at bat is to avoid penalizing hitters for a successful tactical maneuver. The sacrifice fly is one of two instances in baseball where a batter is not charged with a time at bat after putting a ball in play; the other is the sacrifice hit (also known as a sacrifice bunt). However, a sacrifice fly still reduces a player's on base percentage, and a player on a hitting streak will have the hit streak end if he has no official at-bats but he has a sacrifice fly. Unlike a sacrifice bunt, which may be scored if a runner advances from any base to any base, a sacrifice fly is only credited if a runner scores on the play. Therefore, when a runner on first or second base tags on a fly ball and advances no further than third base, no sacrifice is given and the batter is credited with an out. Note that, although rarely occurring, if a runner tags and advances from second base (or, theoretically, from first base) all the way to home and scores (without an intervening error) the batter is credited with a sacrifice fly.

The sacrifice fly is credited even if another runner is put out on appeal for failing to tag up, so long as a run scores prior to the third out. In the case of a fly ball dropped for an error, the sacrifice fly is only credited if the official scorer believes the run would have scored had the ball been caught.

During a sacrifice fly, a runner can attempt to advance bases right as a fielder touches the ball. If the fielder bobbles the ball, the runner may still tag up, even before when the fielder has full control of the ball (before the fielder is credited with a putout). The rule works this way because a smart fielder can theoretically purposely bobble the ball and run with it at the same time towards the infield and only completely catch it when he is within a good throwing distance to home plate. As addressed in the Official Baseball Rules[2], this was put into the baseball rulebook so it prevented these fielders from intentionally bobbling the ball.

Records

The most sacrifice flies by a team in one game is five; the record was established by the Seattle Mariners in 1988 and tied by the Colorado Rockies in 2006[3] and then tied again in 2008 by the Seattle Mariners[4]. The most sacrifice flies by one team in an inning is three; the record was established by the Chicago White Sox in 1962 and was matched twice by the New York Yankees in 2000 and once by the New York Mets in 2005.[5]

Since the rule was reinstated in its present form, Gil Hodges of the Dodgers holds the record for most sacrifice flies in one season with 19, in 1954;[6] Eddie Murray holds the record for most sacrifice flies in a career with 128.[7]

As of the end of the 2008 season, players who have hit 115 or more career sacrifice flies:

  1. Eddie Murray (128)
  2. Cal Ripken, Jr. (127)
  3. Robin Yount (123)
  4. Hank Aaron (121)
  5. Frank Thomas (121)
  6. George Brett (120)
  7. Rubén Sierra (120)
  8. Rafael Palmeiro (119)
  9. Daniel "Rusty" Staub (119)
  10. Andre Dawson (118)
  11. Don Baylor (115)

Only two active players have recorded over 100; Gary Sheffield with 111 and Ken Griffey, Jr. with 101. [7]

History

Batters have not been charged with a time at-bat for a sacrifice hit since 1893, but baseball has changed the sacrifice fly rule multiple times. The sacrifice fly as a statistical category was instituted in 1908, only to be discontinued in 1931. The rule was again adopted in 1939, only to be eliminated again in 1940, before being adopted for the last time in 1954.

References

External links

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