In the midst of the ongoing nonsense between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles, I decided to investigate the extent to which the Utley Rule – officially Rule 6.01(j), which dictates that runners must engage in a bone fide slide into second base on double play attempts – has impacted the game. From my perspective the Utley Rule is a good thing, but not everyone agrees. There is a great deal of consternation from old-school types and ex-players about the way things were in their day, and how this rule is another example of how soft players are these days. Somehow working to keep players safe and ensuring that the best players remain on the field is viewed as ‘soft’. Not sure I follow the logic. Regardless of all that hooey and applesauce, while I support rule changes that intend to improve player safety, it is important to understand how those rules might be changing aspects of the way the game is played on the field. For example, forcing players to slide properly into second base (and not blow-up the middle infielder in a ridiculous way), is good for the safety of middle infielders, but does it make turning double plays easier? More specifically, has the rate of double plays increased since the implementation of the rule? I sought to answer that question in my article at BP Boston this week.
Check out my analysis: Dustin Pedroia and the Utley Rule.