Offhand Question for Baseball Junkies...

I never played or even watched much baseball, but I’ve grown to enjoy watching the Hogs’ games. A few times, I’ve heard the tv commentators imply that a batter is intentionally fouling off pitches, “waiting for one he likes”. Is that possible for a batter to “intentionally” foul off pitches, i.e., deliberately hit a sharp curve or 95 mph fastball so accurately as to make it land in foul territory where it can’t be caught for an out? Seems to me the batter is actually trying to hit the ball solidly, and the foul ball is an unintentional byproduct? I don’t know…just curious what some of you baseball gurus might know on this subject. Thanks in advance.

No batters don’t intentionally foul off pitches. But they do swing at pitches they know they can’t do much with if they have two strikes. Usually a foul ball is the best possible result in that Scenario. So they may be hoping to foul it off and get a better pitch. I suppose that could be considered intentional, but hitters don’t have time to formulate the thought, “hey I can’t drive that slider headed for the far corner of the plate, i’ll Just tap it foul and wait for another.” They just try to get a bat on it and hope for the best.

IMO you actually can intentionally foul off a pitch. You notice that some foul ball swings are pretty much just a flick of the bat, not making any attempt to make useful contact, just tap the ball to safety and wait for a pitch they can handle.

Matt Carpenter does it all the time.

You have to be skilled enough to do it.

You just can’t want to do it.

There are times they do protect from strike three with a late swing on a pitch away. They know it’s probably going to be a foul. Is it intentionally a foul? On some, yes. But more often it’s just a late swing when they get fooled.

The key word is “try”.

There are times, when the batter has two strikes, that he may see a pitch coming that he’s not sure is a ball or a strike, but doesn’t want to just take it and find out the hard way that is was a strike. In that instance, they will try to make contact without the intent of putting the ball in play - to foul it off and live for another pitch.

But just because they want to do that, it doesn’t mean that they are successful. Many times, they miss the ball - or, it is foul tipped and caught for the 3rd strike. Yet other times, it may be accidentally put into play as a ground ball or pop-up.

But, that’s the intent - to avoid a called 3rd strike and get another pitch.

You see ACCOMPLISHED Major League hitters do it often. There are not many at this level that can do it. You will see what looks like a half hearted swing. That could be from being fooled. You can usually tell by the body and who it is.

I’ll add another question to the thread. I often hear an announcer say that “he was bunting for a hit”. Now, I realize that a bunt is often a sacrifice, but that seems to imply you sometimes bunt for a sacrifice and sometimes you bunt for a hit. I have even heard the announces say that a player was not looking to sacrifice but was definitely looking for a hit.

My question is, why would you ever bunt with the intention of sacrificing? Why wouldn’t you always try to get a hit, get on base, and not waste an out?

Sorry if that is a silly and obvious question, but it has bugged me for a long time.

Well, an obvious example of “bunting for a hit” would be if the batter were bunting with no runners on base. And then, there are times when the defense may not be set up to defend a bunt directed in a certain direction, and a speedy batter may feel he can beat it out.

But to your question of “why would you every bunt with the intention of sacraficing?”, it would be in a position such as we were in yesterday’s game - tied in the bottom of the ninth, needing one run any way we could manufacture one to win the game. With a runner on first and nobody out, the defense is aware of this too and so will move their infielders in a great deal, making it almost impossible (unless they simply misplay the ball) to put the ball down and get a base hit (for the batter). However, a properly placed bunt can still move the runner on first to second - where a single will probably score him and win the game.

The other reason you attempt that, in that situation, is to remove the chance of a double play, which can easily happen if the batter is hitting away with a runner on first.

With the way they have shifted lately, Fletcher could bunt for a hit every time he bats if he keeps it close to the third base line. Usually when there are no outs and a runner on first, small ball teams automatically bunt even with the third and first basemen charging. They know they will get thrown out but a good bunt will advance the runner to scoring position. That is the sacrifice bunt. My puzzlement is why don’t they fake bunt on the first pitch and then swing away more often? With the third and first basement charging, you would think any old hit on the ground would have a great chance of getting through the infield.

Thanks for replying. In those scenarios, it makes more sense.

I think the last time I head the announcers discuss it, there was a more mundane situation. I saw no reason at that time to not try to get on base. But I see what you say.