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August 24, 2017

Flu-Like Symptoms

The Rise and Fall of Rule 9.16(i)

by Rob Mains


On Monday, I discussed the quirky Rule 9.16(i). Major League Baseball Rule 9.16, Earned Runs and Runs Allowed, covers the allocation of runs to pitchers for scoring purposes. Subparagraph (i), added in 1969, states: “When pitchers are changed during an inning, the relief pitcher shall not have the benefit of previous chances for outs not accepted in determining earned runs.”

This creates the possibility of runs charged as earned to a pitcher but not to his team, a unique instance of a counting stat for which the team total may not equal the total of all players.

For example, in the Yankees-Pirates game on April 22, with two outs in the top of the eighth inning, Jacoby Ellsbury reached third base on an error by Andrew McCutchen. Antonio Bastardo relieved Felipe Rivero. Bastardo allowed Ellsbury to score on a wild pitch before allowing back-to-back doubles to Aaron Hicks and Chase Headley. Ellsbury’s and Hicks’ runs were unearned for the Pirates (since they occurred after the third out should have been made), but Hicks’ run was earned for Bastardo due to Rule 9.16(i). The Pirates as a team allowed six earned runs in that game. Pirates pitchers allowed seven.

Last season, 17 of the 30 teams had earned run discrepancies (team total not equal to the sum of its pitchers). How common is that, and what are the typical discrepancies?

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