June 22, 2023

Catchers Blocking the Plate in 2023 MLB Season

Three examples of catchers interference either being called or not called in the 2023 MLB season

Catchers Blocking the Plate in 2023 MLB Season

Catcher Legally blocks the Plate on Throw from Drawn-In Infielder

The Royals hosted the Reds on June 12, 2023. In the top of the 10th, the Reds had TJ Friedl on third base and one out with the score tied 4-4 when Jonathan India hit a ground ball to third baseman Maikel Garcia who threw home to catcher Sal Perez in an attempt to get Friedl. Plate umpire CB Bucknor called the runner out.

Reds’ manager David Bell challenged two parts of the play-the out call and the blocking of the plate by Perez. The Replay Official ruled that Perez did not illegally block the plate but determined that the runner was safe because the runner touched home plate prior to the catcher applying the tag.   This gave the Reds a 5-4 lead which proved to be the final score.

Ruleball Comments

  1. The reason why Perez was not charged with violating the home plate collision rule is because the batted ball was hit to a drawn-in infielder. In situations like that, or if a batted ball is a hard hit ball to an infielder, the catcher is not responsible to follow the restrictions as outlined in rule 6.01 (i) (2) because he may not have enough time to set-up in front of the plate.
  2. The broadcasters handled the reversed out to safe call well but struck out when discussing Perez blocking the plate in reference to rule 6.01 (i) (2). One broadcaster said, “Perez covered the entire plate and never gave Friedel a spot to slide.” Because the infield was drawn-in, Perez’s position was legal.
  3. When crew chief Jeff Nelson announced the decision to the fans and media, he should have given the reason for the safe call and explained why Perez did not violate the home plate collision rule. Crew chiefs need to do this more to enhance communication with the media and fans.

Catcher Legally Blocks the Plate on Throw from Pitcher 

The Nationals hosted the Guardians on April 15, 2023. In the top of the eighth, the Guardians had Andrés Giménez on third and Miles Straw on first with one out when Cam Gallagher bunted the ball toward the mound. Giménez broke to the plate as the ball was fielded by pitcher Thaddeus Ward. He threw home to catcher Keibert Ruiz who tagged Giménez.  Plate umpire John Tumpane called the runner out.

The Guardians challenged the play claiming Ruiz had illegally blocked the plate.

Ruleball Comment

  1. Like Perez in Play No. 1, Ruiz did nothing illegal and the call was upheld.
  2. When a drawn-in infielder or the pitcher makes a throw to the plate, the catcher is not expected to set-up in front of the plate because of the time factor. 
  3. This was a good no call. The rule is clearly covered in 6.01 (i) (2).

Catcher Illegally Blocks the Plate?

The Reds and Red Sox played at Fenway on June 1, 2023. In the top of the fourth the Reds had Spencer Steer on third base and Tyler Stephenson on second and no outs when Stuart Fairchild, facing Chris Sale, hit a fly ball to Alex Verdugo in right field. Steer tagged up at third base and headed home but Verdugo’s throw beat him to the plate, and he was called out by plate umpire Jim Wolf.

Reds’ manager David Bell challenged the play at the plate claiming that Sox catcher Connor Wong had illegally blocked the plate. The Replay Official upheld the call on the field. He could not definitively determine that the catcher was in violation of the Home Plate Collision Rule. The call on the field was upheld.

Ruleball Comments

  1. In my opinion, Wong illegally blocked the plate.
  2. The Red Sox catcher set-up properly in front of the plate but by stepping on the plate, he blocked the path of Steer who was attempting to reach home.
  3. IMO, the Replay Official went against what I believe was an MLB interpretation that prohibited a catcher from stepping on the plate unless of course the throw or hop takes him in a direction that stepping on the plate is unavoidable.

Rich Marazzi

Rules consultant/analyst:  Angels, D’backs, Dodgers, Nationals, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Red Sox, Rangers, Royals, Tigers, Twins, White Sox, Yankees, Bally Sports, YES, and NBC Sports Chicago.  

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