Recently instituted Major League Baseball rule changes linked with reduced fracture rate
Recently instituted rule changes by Major League Baseball to reduce collisions at second base and home plate may be associated with recent reductions in acute fractures, according to published results.
Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco used the Major League Baseball (MLB) Health and Injury Tracking System (HITS) database to assess changes in acute fracture incidence in MLB and Minor League Baseball (MiLB) players from 2011 to 2017.
According to the study, researchers identified 1,798 fractures (342 fractures in the MLB and 1,456 fractures in the MiLB) throughout the study period.
“Mean time missed per fracture was 56.6 days, with significantly less time missed in MLB [players] (46.8 days) compared with MiLB [players] (59 days),” the researchers wrote. “Acute fractures due to contact with the ground or with another athlete were significantly decreased after rule implementation at home plate in 2014 (22 [3%] vs. 14 [1.3%]) and at second base in 2016 (90 [7%] vs. 23 [4.5%]),” they wrote.
Starting pitchers missed “significantly more time” due to fractures per injury than any other position group, the researchers added.
The researchers concluded that interventions by the MLB to reduce traumatic collisions at home plate in 2014 and at second base in 2016 appear to be associated with the reduced incidence of fractures, and that similar interventions should be utilized in other areas of play.
“Further interventions targeted at reducing fractures sustained to the hand area during batting may be effective given the high prevalence of fractures to the hand due to being hit by a pitch,” the researchers wrote. “Fractures are a significant cause of time loss in professional baseball players. Detailed epidemiologic study may help guide areas of intervention and research to reduce fracture occurrence in these athletes,” they wrote.