Yet Another Comment on Home Plate Collisions
I recently listened to Giants announcer Mike Krukow discuss one of the key plays of the 2012 World Series: Giants catcher Buster Posey tagging out Tigers behemoth Prince Fielder at home plate in the top of the second inning of Game 2. According to Krukow, Fielder was out on the play only because (Krukow believes) Fielder was trying to “light up” Posey at home plate, rather than sliding to the outside of the plate to score the run. Krukow claimed that Fielder has a history of running over catchers when the opportunity presents itself.
As you know, Posey was seriously injured in a home plate collision in 2011. When he returned to action, the Giants instructed Posey not to block the plate under any circumstances in the future because of his value to the team and its need for him to remain healthy.
Here is video of the play. Posey sets up outside of the base line by a couple of feet, receives the throw and makes a swipe tag at Fielder sliding by. Inexplicably, except for the possibility that Fielder was anticipating a collision and hoped to put his full 275 pounds into Posey, Fielder comes inside the base line before beginning his slide. If he’d stayed outside of the base line and slid to make a hand tag of home plate, Fielder is safe, no question about it.
In fairness to Fielder, Krukow, as a former Giant and long-time team announcer with an old-school attitude towards on-field wrongs, has a long memory of Fielder flattening Giants’ catcher Todd Greene way back in 2006. Another source I saw blame the next Tiger hitter Jhonny Peralta for failing to direct Fielder to slide away from Posey. However, Fielder’s collision with Greene almost certainly shortened the latter’s career, as the collision reportedly damaged Greene’s shoulder causing him to tear his rotator cuff in Spring Training the next season.