If a runner is hit by a batted ball he is out and no judgment of intent is required unless he is hit by a deflected ball, or the ball has already passed all infielders, in which case the umpire must decide if he intended to be hit to interfere, obstruct, impede, hinder or confuse the defense.
A runner must avoid a fielder attempting to field a BATTED BALL. If he does not he is guilty. He may run out of the baseline, if necessary, if the fielder is fielding a batted ball. This is a fairly easy call. Rule 7.09(j) and 7.08(b). The fielder’s protection begins the moment the ball is hit. That protection continues as he completes his initial play. His protection ends if he misplays the batted ball and has to move to recover it. Contact with the fielder is not necessary for interference to be called.
The runner is out when hit by a batted ball before it passes an infielder. (Rule 5.09(f) and 7.08(f) and 7.09(k)). If it passes one infielder and another fielder who is on the outfield side of the basepath had a possible play on the ball, the runner could still be called out. This is a judgment by the umpire. The pitcher is not considered an infielder for this rule. If the ball passes the pitcher, and the runner is hit before the ball passes through or by an infielder, the runner is out. The runner is expected to avoid the ball. The interpretation to be made with regard to the phrase “a fair ball goes through, or by, an infielder, and touches a runner immediately back of him” (Official Baseball Rules 7.09(k) and 5.09(f)) is that this refers to a ball that passes through the infielder’s legs, or by his immediate vicinity, and strikes a runner directly behind the infielder.
If a runner is hit by a FAIR batted ball while he is in FAIR territory he is out with the above exceptions. This includes while he is standing on a base. The bases are in FAIR territory. If he is hit in fair territory, while on the base, before the ball has passed an infielder, he is out, except if he is hit by an infield-fly.
When a runner is called out for being hit by a fair batted ball, the batter gets first base. All other runners remain at the base they held at the time of the pitch, unless forced to advance by the batter being awarded first base.
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