We are reader supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Also, as an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
Ever noticed how hitters can often hit numerous foul balls without being sent out? Wondering how many foul balls a hitter can potentially hit? Read on. We have all the information that you need.
So, how many fouls can you get in baseball? Well, as a hitter, you have an unlimited number of foul balls. While a player can have up to two foul balls classed as a strike, a player can never receive a third strike for a foul ball. Therefore, as long as a player continues to hit foul balls, they can never go out. They will only go out if the ball is caught from the foul ball, or they receive a third strike by missing a perfectly valid pitch.
Our experts have plenty of information to share with you about foul balls in baseball, so let’s discuss that. This way, you will know a little bit more about how this rule works, and whether you can use it to your advantage.
How Many Fouls Can You Get in Baseball?
Technically, a batter can hit an unlimited number of foul balls. However, there is one major caveat to this.
Each time the batter hits a foul ball and they have two or fewer strikes, then they will be given a strike. However, a batter cannot go out if they hit a foul ball and they are on their third strike. At this point, the batter can hit an unlimited number of foul balls and they will be safe. Although, this isn’t particularly recommended. Since the batter will now be sitting on a potential third strike, a single miss of the ball can send them out.
It is worth knowing that if the foul ball is caught by one of the players on the field, this would be an instant out for the player.
What is Classed As a Foul Ball in Baseball?
In MLB, there are four cases where a foul ball would be declared:
- If the ball lands in the foul territory. This sits between the home and first base, as well as the home and third base.
- The ball travels over the foul territory of first or thrid base.
- The ball lands in the foul territory beyond first and third base.
- If the ball travels through foul territory and it touches a player or an umpire.
The ball lands in the foul territory between first and third base.
Outside of the MLB, there may be additional rules that dictate whether a foul has been committed. In a ballpark game of baseball, hitting the roof or the fence may be classed as a foul ball.
The Benefits of Foul Balls to the Pitcher
The major benefit to the pitcher is the fact that after two foul balls, the batter will now be sitting on two strikes. This means that it is now a little bit easier to pitch them out of the game.
If repeated foul balls are being hit, then the pitcher may start to get a feel for the way the batter is working. If the pitcher is talented enough, they can shake up the way that they pitch in order to try and catch the batter ‘off guard’.
The Benefits of Foul Balls to the Batter
Once the batter has received two strikes, they are on the edge of being forced out of the game. However, there are still advantages to the hitter.
By allowing multiple foul balls, the batter can change up the position of their bat. Most foul balls are not intentional, but due to poor positioning of the hitter. The hitter is close enough to the ball to hit it, but ever so slightly out so they cannot get a decent shot off. The more balls that are thrown towards the batter, the more they can adjust their position to get off the perfect shot. Although, the pitcher is still going to be running the risk that they can miss the ball and get their third strike.
The main way the foul ball rule is used, however, is to try and tire the pitcher out. Pitchers only have so many quality balls in them before they need to be switched out. Constant foul balls will weaken the pitcher, and this can potentially make the balls easier to hit for the batter.
Why can you not receive a third strike on a foul ball?
It is to ensure that the competition is a little bit more evenly matched. Pitchers are at an automatic advantage against hitters, no matter how good the hitter is. The rules are there to put the players on a more even playing field. If you look at hits in the MLB, you will see that 60% of pitches are missed. This shows the edge that the pitcher has in the game.
When was the foul ball strike rule introduced?
In 1901. This is because many hitters had perfected the art of foul balls. This put the hitter at the advantage, and they were able to tire out the pitcher quicker. The two foul balls equating to two strikes helped to reduce the number of foul balls being hit. This resulted in the game being sped up, and the pitcher not being put at such a disadvantage on the field.
Should you try to tire the pitcher out with foul balls?
A player can try to tire the pitcher out, but they will be increasing the risk of a strikeout. It is something only worth doing if a player knows that they can successfully hit the ball and still ensure that it is a foul ball, and this can be difficult at amateur levels of the game.