How was your week

Posted: September 10, 2022 by Sports Time Radio in sports

Yesterday Major League Baseball announced multiple rule changes that they’ll be making for the 2023 season. Let’s take a look at what they decided.

Pitch Timer: A Pitch Timer will improve pace of play and reduce dead time.  The Pitch Timer Regulations include the following provisions:

  • A pitcher must begin his motion before the expiration of the timer.  Pitchers will have up to 15 seconds between pitches when the bases are empty and up to 20 seconds between pitches with at least one runner on base.  Testing in the Minor Leagues involved 14 seconds with the bases empty and 18 seconds (19 seconds in Triple-A) with at least one runner on base.
  • A pitcher may disengage the rubber (timer resets) twice per plate appearance without penalty.
    • Subsequent disengagements result in a balk, unless an out is recorded on a runner.
    • The disengagement count resets if the runner advances; testing in the Minors had no reset until the following plate appearance. 
  • A hitter must be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with at least eight seconds remaining.  Testing in the Minor Leagues included nine seconds remaining.
  • A hitter receives one timeout per plate appearance.
  • Umpires will have authority to provide additional time if warranted by special circumstances (e.g., the catcher makes the last out of the inning and needs additional time to get into defensive position).

Defensive Shift Restrictions:A set of restrictions will return the game to a more traditional aesthetic by governing defensive shifts, with the goals of encouraging more balls in play, giving players more opportunities to showcase their athleticism, and offsetting the growing trend of alignments that feature four outfielders:

  • Lateral Positioning: Two infielders must be positioned on each side of second base when the pitch is released.
  • Depth: All four infielders must have both feet within the outer boundary of the infield when the pitcher is on the rubber.
  • No Switching Sides: Infielders may not switch sides unless there is a substitution.

Bigger Bases:With the goal of improving player safety, the size of first, second, and third base will increase from the standard 15” square to 18” square. 

  • Bigger bases are expected to have a positive impact on player health and keeping Major Leaguers on the field.

The Pitch Timer has shown success in the minor leagues.

  • Compared to last season, the Pitch Timer has reduced the average nine-inning game time by 26 minutes (from 3:04 in 2021 to 2:38 in 2022) while increasing action on the field.
  • Stolen base attempts per game have increased from 2.23 in 2019, at a 68% success rate, to 2.83 in 2022, at a 77% success rate.
  • In its most recent week of play, Minor League Baseball has averaged just 0.45 Pitch Timer violations per game.

As for the Shift rule, defensive alignments that feature four players in the outfield increased nearly 6x across MLB since the start of the 2018 season.

Hopefully larger bases will continue the trend that it showed in the minor leagues.

  •  Base-related injuries decreased by 13.5% in the Minor Leagues this season, including declines at every level of the Minors. 

Bigger bases will reduce the distance between first and second and between second and third base by 4.5”, thereby encouraging offensive Clubs to attempt to steal bases more frequently and generally to be more aggressive on the basepaths.

It will be interesting to see what kind of affect this has on an actual Major League game. I’m not sure if you remember this or not, but a few years ago MLB asked the umpires to enforce keeping hitters in the batter’s box to help speed up the game. Unfortunately, the umpires didn’t do a very good job of enforcing this rule and it didn’t do anything to help speed up the game. If the umpires decide to not truly enforce these new rule changes, then they won’t have any affect at all.

Let me know what you think of these rules’ changes. Do you like them? And do you think that they’ll actually speed up the games?

Don’t forget to look me up on Twitter @Burketime

  1. I think the timing on pitches might speed up the game a bit if it’s rigidly enforced. But I’m not so sure I like the restrictions on defensive realignments. If the batters didn’t swing for the fences every time, they could have easily foiled the shift by hitting the ball the other way.
    But we’ll find out next season whether this lends more offense to the game. There are too many strikeouts which can make the modern game of baseball quite tedious.


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