The Ghost Runner Rule in baseball and related games, such as softball, stickball, and kickball, is essentially a solution for teams that are short on players. Imagine you’re in a situation where the player on base is also supposed to be the next batter. In normal circumstances, this wouldn’t be possible — a player can’t be in two places at once. This is where the Ghost Runner Rule comes into play. It allows the player to stay in the batter’s box and have an ‘invisible runner’ take their place on base. The ‘ghost runner’ moves around the bases according to the hits of the subsequent batters. The specific application of the rule may differ depending on regional rules or pre-game agreements.
Ghost Runner Rule in MLB
As per reports from CBS Sports and ESPN, Major League Baseball is keeping the Ghost Runner Rule in its rulebook for 2023 and the foreseeable future, a decision taken by the MLB Competition Committee. Initially introduced in the MLB amid the truncated 60-game 2020 season brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the rule has stuck around, eliciting a mixed bag of reactions.
The rule, in MLB, is primarily utilized during extra innings where a ghost runner is placed at second base. It enhances the likelihood of the batting team scoring quickly, accelerating the game’s resolution. By regulation, the last out from the previous inning becomes the runner at second. This rule has significantly influenced offensive strategies in tied games in the 9th inning, particularly in the MLB.