Ban on home plate collisions could be coming soon

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Home plate collisions like the one we saw between David Ross and Alex Avila in Game 5 of the ALCS on Thursday may soon be a thing of the past.

ESPN’s Buster Olney was told by team officials that they expect the topic of banning home plate collisions to be raised again in meetings this winter. While it’s no sure thing that a rule change is made for 2014, it sounds like it’s just a matter of time before they are eliminated from the game for good.

Given how quickly sentiment within the sport about collisions is shifting — particularly as information about concussions has come to light, including the cost of concussion-related lawsuits faced by the National Football League — some officials talk of change as inevitable and predict that it could come swiftly.

“At this point, I don’t know who would argue to keep it, or what their argument would be,” said one team official who believes general managers will address the topic at their meetings next month. “There is no reasoned argument to keep it [in the game].”

This is nice to hear, as plays like we saw between Ross and Avila — who both missed time with concussions this year — are unnecessary and dangerous. Avila ended up leaving Game 5 with a strained patellar tendon, but things could have been much worse. Here’s another look at the play:

Olney was told by team officials that the rule change will likely reflect how the play is used at every level below professional baseball, namely that the baserunner is given an avenue toward the plate and is not allowed to target the catcher. And that sounds reasonable enough. There are plenty of managers and executives on the side of banning home plate collisions, including Mike Matheny, Jim Leyland, and Bruce Bochy, so let’s hope logic and safety prevails. And soon.

Teams still don’t know if three-batter minimum rule will be in effect for 2020

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According to Athletics GM David Forst, Major League Baseball has still not informed teams whether or not the proposed three-batter-minimum rule will be in effect for the 2020 season, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The league and the players’ union came to an agreement back in March regarding a handful of rule changes with the three-batter-minimum rule among them. From the way it was discussed, it seemed like it was set in stone. If Forst is unsure, then the league clearly hasn’t done a good job of communicating that.

Slusser notes that the A’s are operating as if the rule will be in effect, as the club non-tendered lefty Ryan Buchter earlier this week. Buchter has a career 2.86 ERA with 235 strikeouts in 214 innings, but the bulk of that success has come against left-handed hitters. This past season 115 of the 198 total plate appearances (58 percent) against Buchter were taken by fellow lefties. He held lefties to a .728 OPS compared to .904 against righties. As a result, despite Buchter’s overall terrific numbers, the A’s felt the roster spot could be more effectively used with a different player given the proposed rule.

Some teams may not make the same assumption as the A’s. What if a team keeps its lefty specialist(s) on the roster or goes out and acquires such a player, not knowing whether or not the rule is in effect for the upcoming season?

Since it has been brought up publicly, the issue will likely be resolved quickly and we should all have clarity on the rules for the 2020 season.