March 2015

Most baseball players return from ACL reconstruction, but play in fewer games

In the moment: Sports medicine

By P.K. Daniel

Nearly all Major League Baseball position players who undergo anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction return to play at least 30 games, but those who do return play in fewer games in the season after surgery, according to a study whose authors include the head athletic trainer for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

ACL injury data from 1999 to 2012 were collected and 26 position players identified who had participated in at least 30 games before their ACL injury. Twenty-three players (88%) were able to play in at least 30 games after surgery, but played 21.2% fewer games on average in the season after surgery than in the season before surgery. In a separate analysis, four of seven pitchers (57%) made a similar comeback after ACL injury. The findings were epublished in February by Arthroscopy.

In the position players, injury to the rear batting leg resulted in a 12.3% decline in batting average. But those who had reconstruction for a lead leg injury had a 6.4% increase in batting average. Side of injury was not associated with number of stolen bases or the number of times a player was caught stealing.


Fabricant PD, Chin CS, Conte S, et al. Return to play after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction in Major League Baseball athletes. Arthroscopy 2015 Feb 3. [Epub ahead of print]

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