Miller: When using the on-deck circle makes absolutely no sense

From Sam Miller at on September 8, 2018, with mention of SABR member Mark Armour:

If you’re the on-deck batter, and the bases are loaded with two outs in a tie game in the bottom of the ninth inning, do you go stand in the on-deck circle?

There is, of course, no chance you will get to bat. You can’t. It’s impossible. The hitter will either make an out, and end the inning, or do literally anything else, and end the game. I don’t need to explain these facts to you. The question is, do I need to explain these facts to major leaguers?

There have been 31 such situations in the majors this year — the bottom of the ninth or the bottom of a later inning, in which the only two possibilities were an out or a walk-off run scoring. The most recent came on Labor Day. As Matt Wieters batted for the Washington Nationals, the on-deck circle was empty — but the relief pitcher Greg Holland’s spot was scheduled to come up next. Even if there had been only one out or no runners on, Holland would have been pinch hit for, and sometimes managers like to wait before sending a pinch hitter into the on-deck circle (to avoid giving anything away, for example), so we can’t really count that.

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Originally published: September 11, 2018. Last Updated: September 11, 2018.