Baseball Tag Out Rules

Baseball Tag Out

Tagging runners out is one of the main ways in which defending teams record outs. Read on to learn about the rules used to regulate tagging runners out and how they impact the average game of baseball.


Tag Outs

A tag out is when a fielder, while holding the ball in his hand or glove, touches a base runner who is not safe on a base. The result is an out, the base runner is removed from the field, and an out is recorded for the defense. If the base runner steps off the bag at any point, he is unsafe and can be tagged out. However, the runner being tagged is called safe if the fielder drops the ball while making the tag. Instant replay is sometimes used by umpires to review a tag out to make sure the base runner wasn’t safe on base. Base runners will be called out if they try to avoid being tagged out by running outside of the base path or running lane, and on rare occasions base runners have even been called out for trying to slap the ball out of a fielder’s glove while they attempt to make a tag.

Missing A Base

baseball missing a base

Base runners must touch the bases in order of first base, second base, third base, and home plate in order to score a run. If at any point the base runner fails to touch a base, he can be tagged out by a fielder even if he is touching a base. For example, if a base runner fails to touch second base before reaching third base, but is safe on third base, the fielder can still tag him out.

Summary of Tag Outs

Anytime a base runner is advancing bases, he can be tagged out by a fielder who has possession of the ball. If a fielder has the ball and is near a base runner who is in the process of running between two bases, the fielder can simply touch the base runner with his glove, and the runner is out. This is called a tag out.

FAQ

What base can a player overrun and not be tagged out?

Out of first, second, and third base, the only base that a runner can overrun without being tagged out is first base. This is done by design, as players trying to beat out ground balls would find it extremely difficult to stop in place on first base after running full speed. However, the runner must also make sure not to turn towards second and head immediately back to first. If they fail to overrun first base in this specific fashion, they are eligible to be tagged out.

Does the ball have to be in a player’s glove in order to tag a player out?

Technically speaking, the ball does not have to be in a player’s glove in order to tag a player out. However, in order to tag a player out, the fielder must tag the player out with the ball. So, theoretically, a fielder can tag a player out by holding the ball in their bare hand, but if they were to tag a runner empty handed it would not count as an out.

Can you tag a runner heading for first base?

If the ball is live, fielders can tag out a runner headed to first base. This is a semi-common occurrence in situations where a throw pulls the first baseman off the base. They will catch the ball while off the base and make a swipe tag on the runner in order to tag them out.