Purpose: The purpose of the study was to (1) investigate the rate of return to play among Major League Baseball (MLB) athletes after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR), (2) determine the impact of ACL injury on ability to perform baseball-specific planting and pivoting tasks (batting and stealing bases), and (3) to explore the effect of the injured side on these metrics.
Methods: ACL injury data from 1999 to 2012 were compiled, along with player performance statistics recorded for players with at least 30 games before ACL injury. Predictor variables included side of injury and outcome variables focused on batting average, stolen bases, and number of times caught stealing before injury and after surgery.
Results: Twenty-three of 26 (88%) players were able to return to at least 30 games after ACLR, although they experienced a decline of 21.2% in number of games played (P = .004). Those who had a ACLR for a rear batting leg injury averaged a 12.3% decline in batting average, whereas those who had ACLR for a lead leg injury had a 6.4% increase in batting average (P = .04). Side of injury was not predictive of stolen base metrics.
Conclusions: The overall rate of return to play among MLB position players after ACLR was 88%, although there was a 21.2% decline in the number of games played postoperatively. Injury to the rear batting leg resulted in a lower returning batting average compared with an injury to the lead batting leg. Side of injury had no effect on stolen bases or on the number of times a player was caught stealing.
Level of evidence: Level IV, therapeutic case series.
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