Understanding Baseball Collisions at Home Plate: Rules and Safety Measures Explained

Pat Bloom

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mlb home plate collision rule

In the world of Major League Baseball, few moments are as thrilling—and dangerous—as a collision at home plate. For decades, these high-stakes clashes between runners and catchers were a staple of the game, often resulting in serious injuries.

The 2011 season-ending injury of San Francisco catcher Buster Posey marked a pivotal moment, sparking a much-needed reevaluation of these perilous encounters.

By 2014, MLB introduced Rule 7.13 to enhance player safety, aiming to curb the most egregious collisions. The rule doesn’t mandate that runners always slide or catchers never block the plate, but it sets clear guidelines to protect players on both sides.

As you delve into the intricacies of these regulations, you’ll discover how they strive to balance the excitement of the game with the well-being of its athletes.

Overview of Baseball Collisions at Home Plate

Baseball collisions at home plate occur when a baserunner collides with the catcher while attempting to score and the catcher is trying to tag them out. These collisions are controversial due to concerns about player safety and the rules that govern such plays.

History of Collisions

Collisions at home plate have been a part of baseball for over a century, often resulting in injuries that impact players and teams.

Notable incidents include San Francisco catcher Buster Posey’s fractured fibula and torn ankle ligaments in 2011 and Pete Rose’s collision with Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star Game, which left Fosse with a fractured shoulder.

These events prompted MLB to update the rules for home plate collisions to improve player safety while maintaining the excitement of the game.

Impact on the Game

The introduction of Rule 7.13 in 2014 marked a significant shift in how home plate collisions are handled. The rule aims to reduce injury risks by prohibiting catchers from blocking the runner’s path without the ball.

Replay reviews play a crucial role in enforcing this rule, sometimes leading to disputes and overturned calls. For instance, Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli was outraged when a block call was overturned during a game against Toronto.

While the rule has sparked debate about its impact on the game’s fairness and excitement, it has undeniably prioritized player safety by minimizing dangerous collisions.

MLB Rule 7.13 Explained

MLB Rule 7.13, known as the “Posey Rule,” was introduced in 2014 to enhance safety regarding home plate collisions. It aims to protect catchers and baserunners by setting guidelines for their interactions during plays at the plate.

Origin of the Rule

MLB Rule 7.13, also known as the “Posey Rule,” emerged after a severe injury to Buster Posey during a 2011 game. After Scott Cousins of the Marlins collided with Posey, fracturing his fibula and tearing ligaments in his ankle, the league reassessed player safety.

The necessity for a rule change became evident, especially after other collisions like Pete Rose’s infamous hit on Ray Fosse in 1970. By 2014, MLB introduced Rule 7.13 to protect catchers from unnecessary injuries while still retaining the excitement of plays at the plate.

Catcher’s Position

The catcher cannot block the runner’s path to home plate unless they possess the ball. If the catcher sets up in foul territory without the ball, this violates the rule, making the runner safe.

Runner’s Path

Runners must attempt to slide into home plate if a play is imminent. Intentionally deviating to collide with the catcher results in the runner being called out.

Replay Reviews

Umpires use replay reviews to ascertain whether the catcher was illegally blocking the path and whether the runner made a genuine attempt to reach the plate. This process has caused controversial decisions, but it’s integral to enforcing Rule 7.13.

Disputed Calls

Some plays, like a recent one involving the Padres and Rangers, have highlighted the complexities of enforcing the rule. In that instance, the call was overturned due to the catcher’s improper positioning.

Compliance and Controversies

Compliance with and controversies surrounding MLB Rule 7.13, also known as the “Posey Rule,” have been significant topics within the baseball community since its implementation. Let’s delve into these aspects:

Notable Incidents

Several high-profile incidents have underscored the importance of enforcing Rule 7.13 and protecting players:

  • Buster Posey (2011): Posey’s season-ending injury following a collision at home plate highlighted the need for rule changes to enhance catcher safety.
  • Alex Avila (2013): A collision during the American League Championship Series resulted in injuries for Avila, further emphasizing the risks associated with home plate collisions.
  • Blake Sabol (2023): In a recent game, Blake Sabol’s play at home plate against the Padres led to a controversial call overturned upon replay review, sparking debate about the rule’s application and fairness.

Response from Teams and Players

Managers, players, and teams have expressed varying responses to the enforcement of Rule 7.13:

  • Bob Melvin (San Diego Padres): Expressed frustration after a controversial call ruled Blake Sabol safe, describing it as one of the year’s worst calls.
  • Bruce Bochy (Texas Rangers): Criticized a decision that reversed an out call against his team, highlighting the contentious nature of enforcing the rule.
  • Rocco Baldelli (Minnesota Twins): Voiced displeasure after umpires ruled Gary Sánchez had blocked the plate, overturning an apparent game-winning out against Toronto.

Impact of Rule 7.13 on Game Safety

The impact of MLB Rule 7.13, commonly known as the “Posey Rule,” on game safety has been significant since its introduction. Let’s explore both its improvements and ongoing concerns:

Improvements and Successes

MLB Rule 7.13, introduced in 2014 and known as the “Posey Rule,” has significantly improved player safety at home plate by decreasing bone-jarring collisions.

Named after Buster Posey’s 2011 injury, the rule mandates catchers to avoid obstructing the runner’s path without the ball, aiming to prevent similar incidents.

The rule’s success is reflected in reduced injury rates for catchers, including fewer severe ligament tears and fractures.

Ongoing Concerns and Critiques

Despite its benefits, Rule 7.13 has sparked debates and critiques within the MLB community. Managers and players argue that the replay review process creates inconsistencies, leading to contentious calls.

For instance, Blake Sabol was declared safe in a game against the Padres after an initial out call was overturned, which drew criticism from Padres manager Bob Melvin and Rangers manager Bruce Bochy.

Controversial calls involving players like Gary Sánchez and Jonah Heim add to the tension. While the rule aims for safety, its execution often leaves teams frustrated, struggling to balance protection with fair play.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is MLB Rule 7.13?

MLB Rule 7.13, also known as the “Posey Rule,” was implemented to enhance catcher safety by preventing dangerous collisions at home plate. It requires catchers to avoid blocking the runner’s path without the ball.

Why was MLB Rule 7.13 implemented?

The rule was introduced following several injuries to catchers, including Buster Posey, to improve player safety and reduce the risk of severe injuries from collisions at home plate.

How does the rule affect gameplay?

Catchers must give runners a clear path to home plate unless they have possession of the ball. This reduces dangerous collisions and promotes safer play at the plate.

Have injuries decreased since the rule’s implementation?

Yes, there has been a noticeable decrease in severe injuries at home plate since the rule was implemented, enhancing overall player safety.

What are some criticisms of the Posey Rule?

Critics argue that the rule’s enforcement can be inconsistent, particularly in replay reviews, leading to contentious calls and debates over its fairness.


Baseball collisions at home plate have long been a contentious issue but MLB Rule 7.13 has made significant strides in enhancing player safety. The rule’s implementation has notably reduced severe injuries and highlighted the importance of protecting catchers like Buster Posey.

However, debates about its application and fairness continue within the MLB community. While inconsistencies in replay reviews remain a concern the overall impact on player safety cannot be overlooked.

As the league continues to refine its approach balancing safety with fair play will be crucial in maintaining the integrity of the game. Regular updates and clarifications to the rule are essential to address evolving game dynamics and player feedback.

Ultimately, these measures foster a safer playing environment and uphold the competitive spirit of baseball.

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Pat Bloom

I lead Washington University in St. Louis' baseball team, emphasizing skill development, strategic play, and sportsmanship. Our rigorous training and competitive spirit cultivate discipline and teamwork, preparing athletes for success both in baseball and academics. We embody the determination and sportsmanship that define our university's athletics. LinkedIn

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