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New rules for the 2023 MLB season: Banning of the shift, pitch clock added, and other rules the league should add or remove!

On Friday afternoon, it was announced that the MLB will have new rules for the 2023 season.

These potential rule changes look to increase the pace of play while also increasing offense. Here are each of the rules, including how they work.

Pitch Clock:

If you only read my articles, you may not know that I clip minor league games and post them to Twitter. I don’t (usually) go back and find the highlights, I actually clip them as they happen. Realistically, I watch at least two minor league games six nights a week, and more often than not, it’s three games. That doesn’t include the few weeks when the Blue Jays Low A affiliate is on MiLB TV.

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That’s to say I watch a lot of minor league baseball. The pitch clock is a big reason why it’s so easy to watch that many games on a nightly basis. Say that both a minor league game and a major league game start at 7:00 PM. It’s not rare for the MiLB game to finish around 9:20, while the MLB game ends at 10:30PM.

 

Per MLB Pipeline’s Sam Dykstra, the pitch clock shortens the game by at least 20 minutes, sometimes even 30 minutes in the case of High A.

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Here’s how the rule works: With the bases empty, the pitcher has 15 seconds to throw the ball, and 20 seconds to make the pitch with runners on. If the pitcher doesn’t pitch before the expiration of the clock, it’s an automatic ball. If the batter isn’t in the batter’s box by the eight-second mark and the pitcher starts his motion, it’s an automatic strike. Stepping off the rubber will reset the clock, but we’ll get to that.

While you and I love the sport of baseball, I think we can agree on the fact that a pitcher walking around the mound for 30 seconds before one pitch is very time-consuming. This is a good rule change.

Limited step-offs:

Tied into the rule above, the pitchers are only allowed to attempt two pick offs/step offs. The third attempt, if unsuccessful, will be considered a balk. On the one hand, this is to limit the circumvention of resetting the pitch clock, but on the other hand, the MLB wants to increase stolen bases.

I think in big moments, this rule is a little bit restrictive for the team on defense (say you’re leading by one run in the 9th), but at least it increases the pace of the game.

Larger bases:

I’m rather indifferent to this change. The base is increasing from 15 inches to 18 inches on all sides. MLB is hoping to avoid collisions at the bag, while also potentially increasing stolen bases. Honestly, the MLB should just do what college softball does and give the runner at first their own base, I think that would be funny.

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However, I don’t think it makes much of a difference. The only reason I’ve included it in the article is that I think this Tweet is pretty funny.

Give my guy Trevor Hooth a follow if you enjoy prospect/draft coverage.

Banning of the shift:

I’ll be forthright in saying that I despise this rule. Here are a couple of reasons why. 

The league is making a clear effort to speed up games. Do you want to know what the cause is for most of the MiLB games that go over three hours? Blowouts and long innings when teams can’t get outs. Instead of banning the shift which gets outs, hitters should have to adjust.

The shift, a perfectly viable strategy, has also given small market teams a chance. Take the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates, who with the use of the shift, broke a 20-year streak of finishing the season with a losing record. I can’t do it justice in an article, but check out “Big Data Baseball” by Travis Sawchik if you have any passion for advanced analytics.

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I wrote more in-depth about the shift back in March when the MLB and the MLBPA were close to coming to an agreement to end the lockout. You can read that article here.

What rules need to be added or removed:

Automated Balls and Strikes: The biggest rule I think the league needs to add is the automated balls and strikes. If you’re a Jays fan, you watched an idiot ump crew that didn’t understand the premise of a strike zone. All of those called “strikes” that were like 10 inches off the zone would be overturned to be a ball.

If you’re worried about the umpire union throwing a hissy fit, you can implement what the Florida State League is doing. They have umpires calling balls and strikes, but a batter, catcher, or pitcher can challenge the call (you have to be at the plate). In this case, if you are unsuccessful with three challenges, you can’t ask for another one.

Personally, I’d do three incorrect challenges per inning, or increase incorrect challenges to five or ten, but this works better having the idiot Jeff Nelson wanting the sport to be the Ump Show.

Seven inning doubleheaders: In my opinion, the MLB added one TERRIBLE rule and one solid rule when the COVID pandemic hit. The seven inning doubleheader is the solid rule. As much as I love baseball, I really don’t want to watch 18 damn innings in one day over a seven hour span.

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Not just that, but it’s incredibly taxing on the bullpen when you consider that the starter usually comes out after five or six innings. That means that there are usually at least six innings to cover with your bullpen, and that’s if all goes your way.

Just overall, I think the seven inning doubleheader is a solid rule that should come back. It works well in the minor leagues.

All new stadiums should be built with a roof: Just do it. You know in the first two months it’s going to rain/snow, and that hurricane season rolls around in September, so don’t be dumb and not plan on the rain coming. Looking at you, Minnesota, New York, and Cleveland.

Ghost runner: If you’ve gathered anything from this article, I hope that it’s that the league is incredibly contradictory. The Ghost Runner rule was added during the COVID season to cut down on long extra innings games. Added at the same time as the seven inning doubleheaders, somehow the stupid “runner starts at second in extras” stuck around. But sure, let’s keep the scheduled 18 innings in one day.

This rule is stupid. I hate it. It gives an unfair advantage to the away team as they can just throw out their closer in the bottom of the inning. It’s one thing if this was implemented in the 12th inning, but the bases should be emptied in extra innings.

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What’s more laughable is the fact that it actually didn’t even cut down on game time by that much.

It better not be around in 2023. 

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. I really hate the banning of the shift, but what I hate more is the ghost runner rule and stadiums not having a roof.


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