Section 10.08 of the official rules of Major League Baseball covers the crediting of stolen bases and caught stealing. In section 10.08(g) the rules state that “No stolen base shall be scored when a runner advances solely because of the defensive team’s indifference to his advance. Score as a fielder’s choice.” Effective for the 2007 season a new comment has been added that instructs the official scorer to consider “the totality” of the circumstances of the game in determining whether to credit defensive indifference. This wider view that incorporates the game situation will allow scorers to award defensive indifference in circumstances they don’t today. One could imagine a DI awarded when a catcher and/or pitcher simply seem unconcerned with the runner and even when a half-hearted play is actually made on the runner but when the run represented is unlikely to affect the outcome of the game.
Over the years, as illustrated in the graph below, the prevalence of defensive indifference has been on the rise and so in one respect this move is certainly concurrent with the times. The large jump around 1988 and again in 2000 may in part reflect the quality our play by play data although it should be noted that in the partial (approximately 60%) Retrosheet game logs for the 1922 NL, 44 defensive indifference are credited. If the entire season were present that projects to a rate around 5%, or on par with the 2002 season making it just possible that defensive indifference is enjoying a latter day renaissance.