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Baseball Automatic Strike Rules

Table of Contents


What is Automatic Strike in Baseball?

An automatic strike in baseball is a strike that may be called on a batter who refuses to take his position in the batter's box during the at bat. If the batter still refuses, he may be called out.

If a batter wants to step out of the batter's box he must request "time" from the umpire and get approval before stepping out. During this time, the ball is dead and runners can not advance bases.

IMPORTANT: The umpire in chief has the final say on making a call during a game.


In baseball, there are lots of rules for why a strike will be called on the batter. Primarily, the strike zone is used by umpires to call strikes and balls. However, in rare situations, an automatic strike will be called the batter.

baseball strike zone
PRO TIP: The official scorer will record an automatic putout for the catcher if the batter is called out by a strikeout.

Reasons for an automatic strike

Here is a complete list of reasons an automatic strike may be called:

  1. The batter refuses to take his position in the batter's box
  2. The batter leaves the batter's box while the pitcher is in the process of the pitch
  3. The batter unintentionally hits the catcher due to negligent swinging

Batter's Box Rule

According to the batter's box rule, a batter must keep at least one foot inside the batter's box during his at-bat. There are a few exceptions to the batter's box rule like during a swing, a checked swing, the batter is avoiding getting hit by a pitch, a timeout is called, or a wild pitch is thrown.


National League

In the National League, if a batter leaves the batter's box, delaying play for a second time in a game, the umpire will call an automatic strike. Depending on the league, a further consequence may be given to the batter by the league president.


Hitting The Catcher

An automatic strike will be called on any batter who hits the catcher with the bat while swinging. At the discretion of the umpire, a strike will be called if the swing and a miss hits the catcher on the backswing. No runners can advance on an automatic strike.