Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Analysis of Blue Jays Plate Blocking Violation in Baltimore

Replay Review's decision to overturn HP Umpire Jeff Nelson's out call on Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk's attempted tag of Orioles baserunner Adley Rutschman based on MLB's home plate collision/blocking rule, thus deeming Baltimore's runner safe, scoring a run, brought the catcher blocking criteria to light nary one month since Toronto benefited from the same overturned call in Minnesota.

To review, Official Baseball Rule 6.01(i)(2) states: "Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as they are attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the umpire, the catcher without possession of the ball blocks the pathway of the runner, the umpire shall call or signal the runner safe. Not withstanding the above, it shall not be considered a violation of this Rule 6.01(i)(2) if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in a legitimate attempt to field the throw (e.g., in reaction to the direction, trajectory or the hop of the incoming throw, or in reaction to a throw that originates from a pitcher or drawn-in infielder)."

Accordingly, Replay determined that Jays catcher Kirk moved into the runner's pathway when it was not necessary—this was deemed a non-legitimate attempt to field the throw as New York judged that the catcher did not need to block the pathway of the runner in order to field the throw. As we saw in Minnesota, it appears the league office desires for catchers to wait until the last possible moment—or at least later than the movements we are seeing in these recent plays—before veering into the runner's path to field the throw.

On first glance, this appears to put catchers in a difficult position—especially as was the case with Kirk—because Rutschman was barely at the edge of the dirt circle at the time Kirk first took possession of the ball.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Replay overturn's Nelly's call, ruling the catcher illegally blocked home plate (CCS)


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