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Out of Order

(a) A batter shall be called out, on appeal, when he fails to bat in his proper turn, and another batter completes a time at bat in his place.
(1) The proper batter may take his place in the batter’s box at any time before the improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and any balls and strikes shall be counted in the proper batter’s time at bat.

(b) When an improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and the defensive team appeals to the umpire before the first pitch to the next batter of either team, or before any play or attempted play, the umpire shall (1) declare the proper batter out; and (2) nullify any advance or score made because of a ball batted by the improper batter or because of the improper batter’s advance to first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batter or otherwise.
NOTE: If a runner advances, while the improper batter is at bat, on a stolen base, balk, wild pitch or passed ball, such advance is legal.

(c) When an improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and a pitch is made to the next batter of either team before an appeal is made, the improper batter thereby becomes the proper batter, and the results of his time at bat become legal.

(d) (1) When the proper batter is called out because he has failed to bat in turn, the next batter shall be the batter whose name follows that of the proper batter thus called out;
(2) When an improper batter becomes a proper batter because no appeal is made before the next pitch, the next batter shall be the batter whose name follows that of such legalized improper batter. The instant an improper batter’s actions are legalized, the batting order picks up with the name following that of the legalized improper batter.

Rule 6.07 Comment: The umpire shall not direct the attention of any person to the presence in the batter’s box of an improper batter. This rule is designed to require constant vigilance by the players and managers of both teams.  There are two fundamentals to keep in mind: When a player bats out of turn, the proper batter is the player called out. If an improper batter bats and reaches base or is out and no appeal is made before a pitch to the next batter, or before any play or attempted play, that improper batter is considered to have batted in proper turn and establishes the order that is to follow.

What does it mean
  • the "should have been" batter is called out if he misses his turn at bat, and the defense appeals
  • the "should have been" batter is only out if the entire at bat is missed.   If while the wrong batter is up, the proper batter realizes he should be up, he can complete the at bat with no penalty.
  • the batter who should be up after a "should have been" batter is called out for missing his at bat, is the batter who should have batted after the batter who was called out  (e.g., if the 2nd batter leads off the game, the #1 batter should be called out on appeal, which makes the proper batter up now, the #2 batter)
  • as soon as a pitch or play is made following the incorrect batter, he now becomes deemed to be the proper batter (e.g., if the #2 batter leads off, and then a pitch is thrown to the #3 batter,  the #2 batter is now deemed to have batted in the correct order - and therefore the #3 batter is now the correct batter)
  • there is also a really convoluted approved rule that can be invoked when the proper batter is on a base.  I have never seen or heard of this happen, but the ruling is that if the proper batter is on base, he is skipped and the following batter should be up.
What Should Players do 

  • If you are in the dugout, as soon as you realize that you are supposed to be up, call time and go to the plate.
  • If you are the improper batter and realize you are not supposed to be up, call time and point it out to your coach.  If you realize this while a pitch is on the way to the plate, take the pitch.  Make sure you don't put the ball in play, because as long as you're at bat is not complete, you can still correct this mistake.

  • If you realize the incorrect batter is up, do not alert the offense.  More than once I've heard a defensive player yell that the wrong batter was up.  Don't give them an opportunity to correct the mistake.

  • Try to make sure your players know the lineup, and have it posted somewhere in the dugout where they can easily see it.  Also, if you make double switches in the middle of a game, ensure your players know where in the lineup they will be hitting.   
  • When a 3rd out is made on a caught stealing, remind your batter that he'll still be up next inning.  
  • In tricky situations, make sure you are crystal clear on who is out - For example, if with 2 outs, a batter strikes out, while in the same play a runner is caught stealing - make sure the umpire, scorekeeper, and your batters all realize that the batter was the 3rd out.  The caught stealing didn't really happen!
  • If you are ever unclear on which batter is out for the 3rd out - don't be afraid to ask the Umpire.  For example, when on a steal of home there is batter interference - the runner is out for batter's interference.  But if there are 2 outs, then it's the batter that is out instead of the runner.  You don't necessarily need to know or remember these nuances.  Just remember that it can be tricky, and ask the Umpire to clarify who is out for the 3rd out, so that you know the proper batter to leadoff the next inning.
  • If you do get a player called out for batting out of turn, make sure you know who the proper batter should be, to avoid getting 2 outs in a row on improper batters.  (see end of this post for example of how this happened)
  • Coaches on defense - if you see an batter hitting out of turn, don't say anything until the at bat is over.  Once it is over, you need to appeal to the umpire, BEFORE the next pitch or play.
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