What is a Force Out in Baseball? – Baseball Rules

A. Coatess

Written by

A. Coatess



Sean Hunter

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what is a force out in baseball

With all the combination of baseball plays, it can get quite confusing for the audience to make sense of what is happening.

For this article, let us explain what is a force out in baseball.

The force out happens when a defensive player puts out a runner by touching the base before the runner does. The runner gets called out without being actually “tagged” out.

Explaining the Force Out

The meaning of a force-out is briefly explained in rule 2, section 24 of baseball regulations.

Forceout baseball is a type of play that forces a runner to be out due to several circumstances. The terms force out and force play refer to the same thing, and these terms will be used interchangeably in this article.

By definition, force play is carried out by the defensive team, who makes their opponent runners lose their capacity to occupy a base. This is possible if they get the ball after the batter successfully hits it to the infield.

The force base is the plate that should be the next base after the successful pitch. But, the defensive team can strategize to make sure that they occupy the base first before the runners can advance.

If the defensive team gets on the plate before the runner does, the runner has nowhere to go! Hence, they will be called out.

As the runners try to move from the starting bases, the infielders also move simultaneously to prevent the runners from occupying the next base. The infielders can step on the bases before the baserunners do, causing the force out.

Given this set of situations, the most common place where the force play baseball happens is at first base. The batters are usually put out if the defensive infielders catch the ball and occupy the second base before the batter runs safely to it.

Force Out Scenarios in Baseball


The baseball rules force out and the way it happens are indeed confusing in their straightforward explanation. Plus, the pacing is too fast when you see it happening in the game, and you might not realize what is happening!

To simplify the explanation of force out in baseball, here are the three most common scenarios you will encounter. We will explain them as single-outs, double plays, and triple plays.

1. Single-Out Scenarios

The batter hits the ball; it flies and lands in the infielder’s hands. If the defensive team wants to put out the batter, they can do a force out. But it will be a grueling task! Teamwork must be ensured.

So, what the team will do is they will try to occupy the base before the batter does. The defensive team must pass around the ball and beat the runner to the first base.

Consequently, the batter is forced out.

If the first base is already occupied by a runner even before the pitch starts, the defensive team can choose whether to single out the runner or the batter.

So, the defensive will try to pass around the ball and occupy either the first or second base to prevent the runner or the batter from calling it safe. Without a base to secure, they will be called out!

2. Double Play Scenarios

With double play, two players can be called for the force out. The batter will hit the ball, and everything will happen very quickly from here.

The shortstop can throw the ball onto the infielder, who attempts to get to the second base before the runner does. If they do, that runner is out as he can no longer secure any base.

But it will not stop here. The defensive player at second base can throw the ball to another infielder so that he will try to grab the first base before the batter gets there. If the first base is secured and the batter fails, the batter is called out.

Again, this happens so fast, and team coordination is a huge factor. Double play means that the runner and batter both get forced out.

3. Triple Play Scenarios

If single and double plays can happen, triple plays are also possible! Here, what would happen is that three players will be called out. So think of it like having three bases secured first by the defensive team before any runners call it safe.

This is very rare. Imagine, the double play is already swift. What more for a triple play!

4. Scoring on Force Outs

Baseball is also a sport that keeps track of scores. One of these is the run, which is granted when players advance on the first, second, and third base and even return back to their home plate.

With a force out, runs cannot be scored. When doing this play, the fielders will just focus on forcing out a batter or runner. Their top priority would not be on achieving a run.

Do Not Confuse Force Out With Tag Out!


The confusion in baseball also stems from the similarities in the terms. Baseball force out vs tag out are two different things! Let us differentiate the two.

The tag out is all about physically tagging the runner. Once the fielder has the ball, he will aim to touch the runner to call him out, even without either of them touching the base.

But force out is called when the fielder steps on the base before a runner does. Technically, the runner could not advance and will be “forced” to be “out.”


Baseball is exciting if you get to know the nitty-gritty details of how the spectacular plays happen!

What is a force out in baseball? It is a quick and strategic way to force a runner or batter out by occupying their subsequent bases before they do. The defensive team can have a single out, double play, or triple play as they try to achieve a force out.

After reading this article, you would hopefully have a great amount of knowledge to apply to your next matches! Become a keen baseball junkie by learning as much as possible about the game mechanics

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