You should be out if your broken bat interferes with fielding a ball in play

I have long been troubled by the sight of an infielder in baseball trying to field a ball when pieces of the hitter’s bat are flying out onto the baseball field. Usually things end up the way they should, with the routine outs becoming outs, and the hits becoming hits. But just the same I often see a fielder hesitating to approach the ball in these cases, and I don’t think they should have to. The fielder shouldn’t have to choose between assuring his safety from being injured by flying wooden shards and making the play. That’s why I’d like to see a rule change to prevent having to make that choice.

Some years ago in an online forum I suggested that in such situations, the batter should be called out for interference. Specifically, if the batter’s bat or any portion of his bat interferes with or impedes a fielder’s ability to field a ball batted in fair territory, this by the judgement of the umpires, then the batter is out. There are already interference rules in the books; this would just extend them in what I think is a sensible way, which in my view is consistent with the existing interference rules. I’m making the call for this change again. Hopefully it will not only help fielders stay safe, but may also reduce the brittleness of some bats in use, so that we see fewer broken bats in the first place. Right now, there really isn’t a deterrent to using bats that are prone to breaking; it’s time to create one.

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Jon Lester breaks record for hitting futility

Until today, nobody had ever gone more than 57 at bats into their career without a hit (at least in the last 101 years).  Having gone 0 for 2 today, Jon Lester has now gone 59 at bats without a hit; he’s 0-for-59 on his career.

Here’s the new top 15 list, by at bats, of hitless streaks to begin a career since 1914.

Name Team(s) Pos PA AB First hitless game Last hitless game Hitless Games RBI SO BB HBP SH SF
Jon Lester BOS-OAK-CHC P 66 59 6/16/2006 5/27/2015 25 1 35 1 0 5 1
Joey Hamilton SDP P 66 57 5/24/1994 6/3/1995 24 1 34 2 0 6 1
Ron Herbel SFG P 63 55 5/6/1964 5/11/1965 27 0 36 2 0 6 0
Marv Breuer NYY P 57 to 60 47 to 49 4/27/1940 9/4/1940 20 1 22 or 23 4 or 5 0 6
Luke Walker PIT P 56 48 4/18/1966 4/18/1970 27 2 29 2 0 6 0
Don Carman PHI P 53 48 9/13/1984 5/11/1987 28 0 21 0 0 5 0
Fred Gladding DET-HOU P 49 47 7/1/1961 7/5/1969 40 0 27 0 0 2 0
Chris Short PHI P 45 44 4/19/1959 6/24/1961 26 0 19 0 0 1 0
Randy Tate NYM P 47 41 4/14/1975 9/18/1975 23 0 22 1 0 5 0
Pat Jarvis ATL P 45 41 8/13/1966 6/12/1967 18 1 24 2 0 2 0
Miguel Batista CHC-MON P 43 41 8/11/1997 9/25/1998 24 0 26 0 0 2 0
Steve Stone SFG P 50 40 4/8/1971 5/16/1972 24 2 22 6 0 4 0
Roberto Hernandez CLE-TBR-PHI P 47 40 6/12/2007 6/18/2014 22 0 21 0 0 7 0
Denny Neagle PIT P 47 40 4/21/1992 5/16/1994 25 0 11 0 0 7 0
Mike Cuellar CIN-STL-HOU P 42 40 4/18/1959 4/25/1966 21 0 20 1 0 1 0

I do have posts on things other than Jon Lester’s hitless streak in the works, I promise.

 

Jon Lester on verge of record for hitting futility

In a post I made on opening day, I showed that, going back as far as Baseball-Reference.com has records (1914), Jon Lester was tied for the 22nd longest string of at bats to start a career without a hit at 36 (and tied for 19th when going by plate appearances at 43).  Now in the national league, he has quickly ascended these lists, going 0-for-18 on the season to take sole possession of third place on the list.  His 54 at bats and 61 plate appearances without a hit are exceeded only by second-place Ron Herbel , at 55 AB and 63 PA (in 1964 and 1965), and first-place Joey Hamilton, at 57 AB and 66 PA (in 1994 and 1995).

Jon Lester pitches tonight for the Cubs.  A hitless performance tonight puts him in second place, and may tie him for first.  I’m sure it’s not a record he wants, but perhaps it speaks to his high value as a pitcher.

UPDATE:  Jon Lester went 0 for 3, tying the record for most at bats to start a career without a hit.